By 2018, seven out of 10 healthcare institutions in the world would have invested in some form of technology to offer better care to its patients. Technology options include smartphone applications, remote monitoring devices, virtual care technology, and wearable fitness devices. As healthcare industry embraces new-age technology, quality of care enjoyed by patients is likely to increase even as costs come down.
Over the next 25 years, wearable devices are expected to help users save up to $200 billion on healthcare costs. In such a scenario, it is not surprising for physicians and nurses to use modern technology and devices to become more efficient and offer better care and treatment to their patients.
To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by Adventist University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.
Ten Tools that Nurses Use
While the physician hold primary charge of the patient’s health, nurses perform various important tasks like setting up appointments, tracking the vital signs of the patient, dressing and redressing wounds, following the medication schedule, and completing various administrative tasks related to the patient’s treatment. An efficient nurse must have these ten tools and accessories at his or her disposal at all times.
The stethoscope may be synonymous with doctors but these can be very useful for nurses as well. They can use it to listen to the patient’s heart, intestines, the flow of blood in the veins, and carry out a preliminary assessment accordingly
Another useful resource to keep in hand is the medical reference book containing information about prescription medications, general advice about patient care, and guidelines related to clinical procedures.
Dressing wounds properly during a medical emergency or replacing dressing on time can minimize the risk of infections and speed up the healing process. Nurses should keep sanitary items like cotton balls, sterilized masks and gauze in hand along with a pair of about nursing scissors.
With demand for nursing care rising steadily, nurses cannot afford to fall prey to even ordinary ailments like the common cold. They will require over-the-counter medication for minor ailments before they become serious and impact their ability to take care of the patients.
The nurse must take precautions to ensure he or she does not become a source of germs and infection for the patient. Alcohol swabs or a hand sanitizer should be kept in hand for staying clean at all times. Further, a hand lotion will help keep the hands soft and fresh.
Finally, a flashlight will help the nurse inspect the patient’s eyes and mouth without any hassles. A small notepad and a pen will be useful for noting observations, accepting instructions from the physician, and having a written record of the vital signs of the patients. A Functional, waterproof and lightweight wristwatch must complete the ensemble of every professional nurse.
Nursing Tools of the Future
As the health industry embraces newer technologies and devices, old-fashioned accessories and supplies by nurses are likely to be replaced by better, smarter, and more efficient tools as well.
The ubiquitous health record folder that gives an overview of the patient’s vital signs and health condition at a glance is likely to be replaced by an Electronic Health Record. Such records will reflect changes on a real-time basis, which means doctors, pathology experts, and other nurses would be in a position to remotely access patient information through any electronic device.
Instead of pagers, nurses will be using smart phones that, apart from facilitating instant communication, serve as a versatile research tool as well. Nurses can access medical references online, take notes, perform calculations, and complete various other tasks related to ordinary nursing duties with a touch on the phone’s screen.
The conventional calendar used to track patient appointments will be replaced by Virtual Assistant applications installed in mobile devices and smart phones. These apps can be used to track appointments, set reminders, post updates, and facilitate real-time communication between the nurse and the physician on all scheduling matters.
Conventional medical accessories like thermometers and blood pressure devices will soon be replaced by Smart Glasses that will track the patient’s condition through smart technology. Nurses will now be in a position to collect the required data by simply looking at the patient. This will facilitate faster diagnosis and more efficient treatment, and reduce scope for errors—mechanical and human.
Finally, the pedometer can be discarded for wearable devices like Fitbit, iWatch, and Jawbone. Nurses can receive data collected by such devices and assess the patient’s health remotely. These accessories can also be used by nurses to improve their own physical health and fitness, which will help them perform their duties in a more efficient manner.
Numbers Back Technology
Recent studies and surveys show that nurses have already begun embracing technology for improved performance of their duties. A survey covering more than 1900 nurses revealed that more than 65 percent of the respondents used mobile devices in course of common work-related duties.
Two out of every three nurses use mobile devices for at least 30 minutes in every shift while one out of every five nurses uses these devices for at least two hours in every shift. Close to half the nurses confirmed being encouraged by their organization to search for and access online medical references as a part of their clinical research duties.
While blindly relying on online medical references can be risky, just 15 percent of health organizations discourage nurses from accessing online references or require them to do so only as the last resort. This clearly indicates that nurses, physicians, and healthcare organizations alike are embracing technology, despite its limitations and risks. Greater reliance on online resources will only serve to improve its accuracy and reliability.
From devices that facilitate remote monitoring of the patient’s health to technology that enables nurses to assess the condition of patients faster and better—technology is pervading each and every aspect of the healthcare system.
As technology improves and as devices become more sophisticated and reliable, nurses will become more efficient and more skilled even as patients enjoy better quality of care. Organizations will benefit by having a more-skilled workforce along with significant cost reductions as well.
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