Emerging healthcare technology is impacting the way nurses approach patient care. During a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) online program, nurses have the opportunity to explore these applications and the resulting influence on day-to-day practice. Here are five tech trends to look for and the anticipated benefits for nurses and patients alike.
1. Digital Whiteboards
Digital whiteboards are an excellent way for nurses and healthcare providers to communicate with patients and their families. Prominently positioned in patient rooms and at nursing stations, these boards relay critical information such as allergies, meal and activity schedules, daily goals and names of key members of the medical care team.
Patient whiteboards have traditionally required someone, usually the patient's nurse, to manually update the information, but digital whiteboards are streamlining the process. By delivering real-time information directly from the electronic health record, this modern option saves nurses time and minimizes errors while still deepening patient engagement and improving care.
2. Continuous Monitoring Technology
Equipped with a contact-free monitor under the mattress and at bedside, the continuous monitoring technology created by EarlySense can track patients' respiration and heart rates more than 100 times per minute as well as movement and positional changes. The frequent measurements alert nurses to subtle fluctuations in vital signs, attempts of at-risk patients to get out of bed, and the need to reposition bedridden patients. Interventions can then be initiated before deterioration, fall injuries or pressure ulcers occur.
According to a 2014 study by the Harvard University Medical School, a 33-bed medical-surgical unit found that beds equipped with these monitors reduced lengths of inpatient stays by 9%, decreased code-blue events by 86% and led to a 45% reduction in lengths of intensive care stays when patients were transferred from the monitored unit.
3. Radio Frequency Identification
Radio frequency identification (RFID) uses radio waves to collect, store and manage data. The data is usually housed within a barcode or chip and read by a scanner or other sensor. Many patient wristbands are RFID enabled, allowing nurses to scan them at point of care and retrieve a patient's medication history and allergies. In some facilities, medications are tracked with RFID through the entire life cycle — from ordering to dispensing to administration at patients' bedsides — to improve patient safety and inventory control.
Nurses' identification badges are often embedded with an RFID chip, which is used to quickly locate staff and grant privileges such as access to specific areas of the facility. Equipment and supplies are inventoried via intricate bar code systems that track their whereabouts, helping nurses efficiently pinpoint the location of critical items in the healthcare system.
4. Automated Infusion Pumps
Automated infusion pumps deliver fluids, nutrients and medications intravenously. The pumps administer everything from antibiotics and saline to chemotherapy and parenteral nutrition, and are used in nearly every clinical outpatient and inpatient setting.
Often called smart pumps, these devices have preprogrammed settings that alert nurses when an option outside typical safety parameters is selected or when risk arises of an adverse reaction. Some smart pumps communicate electronically with the patient's medical record, pulling dosage information directly from the chart and saving nurses time while also reducing human input errors and improving patient safety.
A chatbot is an interactive computer program that communicates with patients via automated texts or emails. Chatbots like Conversa's Conversation Platform™ respond to user input and are being used to screen incoming triage, educate patients about upcoming procedures or provide support following hospital discharge.
Chatbots seek to improve patient compliance, outcomes and access to care while simultaneously reducing costs and eliminating routine medical staff duties. Nurses may be involved in chatbot program design and implementation and thus able to provide more effective care based on the increased flow of communication with patients.
Embracing Tech Trends
Whether dispensing medication or tracking vital signs, nurses should be prepared to utilize technology in various capacities. Adoption of promising tech trends can lead to more efficient and targeted patient care as well as streamlined nursing responsibilities. An online RN to BSN program covers many of these trends and how they incorporate into daily practice.
Learn more about the UNM online RN to BSN program.
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