A Nurse’s Perspective On Using Technology To Improve Patient Care
By Brianna Zink, RN, MSN, account manager, Infor Workforce Management for Healthcare.
When we look at the healthcare industry over the past 15-20 years, it is clear that drastic improvements have been made because of technology. For example, neurologists can now assess patients experiencing symptoms of a stroke remotely, using a specialized computer system. Wearable devices can track a patient’s vital signs and heart rhythm, alerting both the patient and their care team should any warning signs appear.
Furthermore, technology deployed throughout hospitals and healthcare systems has steadily improved the efficiency of caregivers and allowed patients to return home following an illness, injury, or surgery quicker than ever. Technology has also improved many ways healthcare providers work. These include a broad spectrum of activities, such as the ability to access a schedule, make changes from a mobile device, ensure appropriate supplies are where they need to be and determine when they are needed in order to provide the best possible patient care.
However, from a nurses’ perspective, there has been both a variety of successes and failures using technology in healthcare. Traditionally, everything from documenting patient care, to creating staff schedules, to ordering supplies was done on paper. On the other hand, some hospitals take a much more digitized approach, where every task performed seems to require the assistance of a computer and everything feels much faster paced.
At first glance, the hospitals that adopt all kinds of technology seem to make many improvements in patient care. Overall, it seems that patients have their needs tended to much quicker as a result of the technology solutions. For example, rather than someone tracking down a patient’s nurse when the patient needed assistance, the nurses could easily be reached by a phone that was always clipped to their waistband. The electronic medical record would automatically alert the caregivers if a medication was due, or if the patient had abnormal lab results or vital signs. The daunting task of filling out supply checklists so any supplies that were recently re-ordered had disappeared were no longer a time waster and the changes were amazing.