Technology is revolutionizing our lives in many ways, and medicine is no exception. Science fiction predicted cures for cancer and superhuman abilities via cybernetics; these are still as far away as the flying car. However, here are four ways technology is transforming the nursing field. All of the technologies discussed here are already being implemented in some form.
Online Education Both Ways
The internet has been transforming education. You see more people shifting to home schooling because kids can access virtual academies, while sites like Khan Academy replace tutors. Adults are utilizing online educational resources as well. Nursing degrees and bridge programs like those offered through Regis College Online are now routinely accepted as equal credentials to a brick and mortar school. You also find nurses and other medical professionals completing continuing education credits online through their Regis MSN-DNP Degree.
Online education is allowing nurses to reach out to their patients, too. It is now routine for wellness programs to have one on one coaching sessions regarding diet, diabetes management or other chronic conditions occur online. The patient may be on the phone or having a teleconference with the nurse. This reduces travel costs for nurses and saves time for their patients.
Goodbye Clipboard, Hello Tablet
Nurses still carry records with them as they visit patients, but it is much more likely to be a tablet computer for accessing electronic health records than a clipboard with written notes on it. The tablet provides instant access to information, the ability to email reports immediately and captures signatures and notes to a common repository to ensure that information isn’t lost. A side benefit of this shift is that it allows nurses to show patients videos or images at the resolution they can see and send recommended links or order pamphlets that the patient should review.
Big Data and Nursing
A number of tools are being developed to mine data and present actionable recommendations to users. We aren’t quite at the point where the average nurse can review someone’s fitness monitor data and recommend shifting one’s workout routine by 15 minutes while drinking another glass of water each day.
However, Big Data is impacting the medical profession. We’re already seeing systemic analysis of patient records to flag potential cases of prescription drug addiction and likely cases of patients not complying with medication regimens.
RFID or radio frequency identifiers are altering the nursing profession in a number of ways. Embedded RFID chips in one’s badge to provide access without a key is one common implementation.
Software and hardware systems are being rolled out to track when and where nurses are based on RFID; this data is used for everything from attendance verification to trying to determine more efficient facility layouts. RFID chips in medical inventory speed up the process of running inventory, especially for controlled medications and surgical tools.
The internet and technologies like online education and RFID are completely transforming nursing as we need it. The nurses of tomorrow will not only have to be well verse in these new technologies, but will greatly benefit from them as well.