Nursing is in the midst of revolutionary changes. There are many forces which is driving the changes in nursing and healthcare. The explosion of medical technology has led to myriad lifesaving and life-enhancing inventions, including spare body parts ranging from knees to thumbs and dramatically improved sensors and diagnostics giving benefits like Portability and mobility, Evidence-based practice, Emphasis on safety and quality, High times for high-tech, Robots in the OR. Here’s a rundown of a few areas where technology is making a big impact. Computer-assisted surgery has moved to the next level. Robots have elbowed their way onto the operating-room bed and into the perioperative team. Although too expensive to use for every surgery, robots have proven their mettle in complex procedures and those that require manipulation in a tight area.
New health care technology is also creating opportunities for nurses. More and more aspects of the profession are electronic: Test results, X-rays, blood work, and ordering medication. An array of new technologies — mobile devices, electronic medical records, cloud computing, and teleconferencing — invite nurses to be digitally ambitious.
Nurses will also confront the growing costs of health care. For example, a major challenge is how to curb the large expenditures for chronic disease patients in hospitals. One proven way is to treat patients before they need a hospital visit. New at-home monitoring programs, where nurses see patients on live webcasts, will soon play a larger role in patient care. Because these emerging tools are at the forefront of more cost-efficient care delivery, nurses who can adapt and implement technology will become sought-after leaders.
Patient behaviors are also evolving in a digitalized world. Patients are using online resources to research and treat their symptoms. Health and wellness are consistently among the most searched-for topics on Google. Nurses will need to double as health technology librarians, directing patients to trustworthy websites and useful applications.
New technology won’t preclude traditional care, but it will open up more creative options to teach patients about their health. Nurses will no longer be limited to one-size-fits-all safety pamphlets. Patient education can become more personalized, with hundreds of new medical apps, from glucose monitors to basal body temperature trackers.
Medical advancements and information technologies of the twentieth century have not only changed the face of the nursing – they have become part of the intricate fabric of the field.
Take a look at these ten nursing trends to get a clear picture of where nursing is headed in 2016.
Health Information Privacy
One of the ways in which technology affects patients and nurses alike is the advent of electronic health records. Those hospitals and physician’s offices that have not yet switched to this type of medical record are surely on their way to doing so. While electronic health records can make patient data easier to share and can improve outcomes, it also put private information at risk for theft. This means nurses will have to stay vigilant themselves and with staff training in 2015 to ensure that electronic patient data is safe and secure.
Electronic IV monitors
There was a time when IVs had to be administered with a nurse’s constant attention to ensure a steady flow. Manual IVs were highly sensitive to a patient’s movement and the flow of the IV could be sped up or slowed to a crawl by a subtle movement. To prevent this, nurses had to directly administer an IV from beginning to start. With the advent of IV pump infusion and electronic monitoring, nurses are freed up to initiate an IV and allow a machine to monitor and regulate the process. If there is an error, the system tries to correct it, and otherwise contacts the nurse via remote monitoring.
The sphygmomanometer is simply a fancy term for electronic blood pressure cuffs that also measure heart beat rate automatically. Gone are the days when a nurse had to measure blood pressure manually. According to one nurse, this is the technological change that makes the biggest daily difference.
The portable defibrillator
Manual CPR can only do so much and for the longest time this was the only method available to many nurses for reviving someone’s heart. Now, even school nurses stand a fighting chance to save the life of a person whose heart has failed. The few minutes after heart failure are critical, and the portable defibrillator allows for immediate resuscitative action.
Sturdy, portable IT devices
Tablet computers and mobile wireless computer stations are now a standard part of the day-to-day methods of delivering care to patients. Charts are updated continuously, in real time, providing nurses with immediate access to essential patient information.
Ultrasound devices provide nurses working with pregnant patients the ability to see inside the womb. Ultrasound has been nothing short of revolutionary in the field of Women’s Health and pregnancy, allowing nurses and doctors to noninvasively identify the health of the baby throughout pregnancy. Now, with the advent of 4-D ultrasound, unprecedented detail is available for diagnosing fetal well-being. In addition to pregnancy monitoring, sonogram technology also offers many other new diagnostic advances such as the ability to easily identify cancer tumors in the bladder, and to tell whether the liver is enlarged.
Patient remote monitoring
In addition to high-tech and ultra-sensitive vital signs monitoring equipment, web cams and other technologies make the close monitoring of multiple patients much easier, changing how environments are staffed and operated.
RFID-enabled devices make monitoring hospital assets easier, ranging from drugs and equipment to records and patients. They also enhance safety and security with less effort and lower long-term cost.
Drug management technologies
High-tech systems of medication retrieval and delivery, such as bar coding and verification, have greatly reduced the potential for dangerous error. Infusion equipment advances have made the delivery of slow-administer drugs much easier, with computerized machines able to control dosages and rates.
The availability of individual and off-site learning opportunities and degree programs, via specialized software and online classes, allows for more rapid career advancement.
The ability to interact with nursing professionals throughout the world, through such means as video conferencing, offers advantages and opportunities like never before, both in terms of the further development of the nursing profession and the continued improvement in patient care outcomes.
Moving forward together
Nursing has become more complex in ways that couldn’t have been imagined a generation ago. Now there’s an imperative to be not just a great caregiver but a great innovator too. The demands of health care are calling for a new generation of thinkers who want to be agents of care innovation. It’s a profession for the intellectually curious, lifelong learner.
As we move forward, nursing will continue to evolve with new hospital structures, fancier gadgets, and political challenges, the heart of the profession stays the same But some of the basics won’t change—basics such as advocating for patients, seeing how all the pieces fit together for the patient and, most importantly, caring for the patient as a human being.