medical-technology-nursing

How Technology has Changed the Role of Nursing

medical-technology-nursingFor many years now, professional nursing has held a unique place in the American health care system. Nurses make up one of the largest health care professions in the U.S. with more than 3.1 million nurses working in diverse fields and settings.

Although most nurses work in health care settings like hospitals, a nurse’s expertise expands well beyond the hospital walls. Working on their own and alongside other healthcare professionals, nurses promote the health of families, individuals, and communities.

Nurses have always played an important role in healthcare settings. However, their role has changed a lot over the years. In the past, nurses had extraordinarily little formal medical training. In fact, nurses learned the medical skills they needed from their mothers or other women in the nursing profession.

Today, the nursing profession has changed for the better. Not only are there extensive training programs available for nurses, but this role now comes with a level of prestige that was not there before. And this is not the only thing that has altered. Technology has also played a huge role in changing this profession for the better. Keep reading below to find out about the history of nursing and how technology has changed the role of nursing:

How Nursing Has Changed Over Time

Time has done a lot for many career paths. However, the nursing profession has seen more changes than most. Here are some of the ways the nursing profession has changed over time:

Training – in the past, nurses were not required to have any formal education. However, nowadays nurses are no longer able to care for patients without passing the correct certification first.

Setting – many years ago, nurses would take care of people in their homes or on the battlefield. Although some nurses still care for patients in their homes, nowadays, most nurses work in a hospital setting.

Responsibilities – nursing responsibilities have come a long way from the early days when they used to look a lot like a household chore list. The change in responsibilities for nurses stems from several changes in the profession, including the changing views of women, more comprehensive training, and the growing demand for medical professionals.

Culture – in the 20th century, nursing culture was known as being mainly made up of females who had a small amount of medical knowledge. While nursing culture has not changed completely, it has changed a lot over the years. In fact, research suggests that more men than ever are choosing to train in this profession.

Patient care – patient care is more important than ever before. The advancements in technology have created an environment that makes patient care more helpful and efficient for patients. These advancements have altered almost every industry in the U.S. and the medical field is no different.

7 Tech Advancements that Have Changed Nursing

Technology continues to influence the nursing field in some exciting ways. There was a time when the most impressive technology you would see in a hospital was a pulse oximeter or a pager. However, this has now changed. New technologies can now be found in almost every area of the hospital. Here are some of the technological advancements we have seen in the last few years:

Portable monitors – nurses no longer have to spend long periods of time at a patient’s bedside monitoring their vitals. Portable monitors give nurses the freedom they need to monitor their patients even when they are busy with other things. These monitors provide nurses with information such as electrocardiography, respiratory rates, and oxygen levels. They can even alert medical professionals if a patient requires attention. Evidence suggests that portable monitors can reduce the number of deaths in a healthcare setting.

Smart beds – Smart beds allow nurses to monitor patient movement, weight, and vitals. This can reduce bed sores, misdiagnosis, and injuries.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) – the days of paper charts are long gone. In fact, over 96% of hospitals in the U.S. now use EHRs to store patient data. And EHRs are likely to evolve over the next few years to allow for a better transfer of information between medical professionals and providers. In the future, EHRs will allow professionals to manage a patient’s whole health.

Online education – there is currently a huge demand for nurses in the U.S. and this is only going to increase over the next few years. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2026, there will be over 438,000 positions available for RNS. This number does not even include other positions such as FNPs. Fortunately, online universities such as Marymount University are helping to provide the technology to meet this demand.

Diagnostic tools – in the past, most diagnostic tests required some type of invasive procedure, such as a blood test. However, new technology is now changing this. Technology is being used to eliminate or reduce the invasiveness of these tests.

Treatments – nurses now have access to a range of technologies that help them treat patients. From wound care machines to tech-driven drug delivery systems, there are lots of things to help them do their job. Over the next few years, other technologies such as gene therapies and 3D printing will also be introduced to the profession.

Communication systems – lots of hospitals in the U.S. use smartphone apps to communicate with one another. These apps not only allow medical professionals to send and receive real-time information about patients, but they also allow medical professionals to alert other professionals when they are needed. Wireless communication technologies are also being used in hospitals and healthcare settings. These technologies let healthcare professionals access lab results, x-rays, and other patient information no matter where they are.

The Benefits of Nursing Technology

Here are some of the benefits of nursing technology:

Improved care and efficiency – the use of information technology has made patient care more reliable and safer in most circumstances. Most nurses and doctors working on the front line now have access to handheld computers on which they can record important information and data about their patients. This data can then be shared instantly with other professionals. This has transformed the level of efficiency and care a patient can expect to receive when they are being treated in the health care system.

Decreased human error – new technologies can reduce the chance of human error. Nurses who work in understaffed wards or those who work long hours are more likely to make mistakes. With new innovative technologies, routine procedures are made easier and take less time to complete. For example, nurses can now use automated IV pumps to measure the amount of medication given to a patient. This is not only safer for patients, but it also creates a quicker process for changing dosage and drip amounts.

Positive impact on nursing shortage – burnout is one of the main causes of a shortage of nurses in the U.S. Prolonged physical and mental exhaustion can cause nurses to feel broken, which leads to nurses taking time off work or leaving the profession for good. Innovative technologies in telehealth can help reduce the burden on nurses as fewer nurses are required to provide adequate care to a patient. Telehealth can also be used to reach patients in geographical areas where there is a lack of healthcare professionals. Telehealth helps professionals address these shortages by offering remote care to patients. Not only does this improve outcomes for patients, but it can also reduce costs for the healthcare system, as fewer people will attend ER to be treated.

Make medical breakthroughs at a faster rate – thanks to technology, scientists now have access to an online resource of patient notes. They can use the information collected by doctors and nurses to study trends and make medical breakthroughs at a faster pace.

Better treatment for patients – one of the most tangible ways that technology has changed health care is the increase in accessibility of treatment. The health care profession has never been more driven and effective than it is today.

Improves disease control – over the past few years, numerous software programs have been developed to help doctors and nurses categorize illnesses, their causes, and symptoms into a database. Professionals and researchers can use these resources to track, retrieve and utilize this valuable data in the fight against diseases. Research has shown that these databases can improve healthcare outcomes for patients.

Reduce the amount of paperwork completed – software plays a huge role in reducing the amount of paperwork that has to be completed. Reducing the amount of time spent on paperwork allows practitioners to improve the quality of care they offer their patients.

Greater transparency in the health care system – technology can be used to improve transparency in the health care system.

The Drawbacks of Nursing Technology

Although there are numerous advantages of technology, and it has changed the role of nursing for the better, there are also a few drawbacks. Nurses need to be aware of balancing the benefits of these technologies against the cost to ensure equitable care. Some of these drawbacks include:

Less person-to-person interaction between professionals and patients – many people believe that technology threatens the person-to-person interaction between patient and nurse. In the past, nurses would spend most of their time talking to patients and their families. However, this is slowly changing. Nurses are spending more time than ever typing information into computers. While this is seen as a more efficient and trustworthy way of taking care of patients, it inevitably reduces the amount of time nurses spend with their patients.

Security threats – like most other computerized information, EHRs (Electronic Health Records) are stored in the cloud or as some type of big data. This makes them extremely susceptible to being hacked. Although many people believe that cybercrime is not common within hospital settings, this is not the case. Hackers access patient data and sell it on the black market. All it takes is an inexperienced employee to accidentally click on malware and the whole system will be in danger of being compromised. Hospitals and other healthcare providers could end up paying huge fines if any sensitive or private information is accessed by a hacker. Thanks to this, many hospital settings think twice before storing their information in the cloud.

Generational divide – research suggests that baby boomers make up over 50% of nursing staff. Most people in this age group are not tech-savvy and may struggle to get used to new technologies. In fact, evidence suggests that rapid technological advancements are one of the main reasons why older nurses retire.

Although there are a few drawbacks to technology, the benefits and rewards it offers are essential and exciting for the advancement of the healthcare profession.

How Technology is Impacting Nursing in 2020

Technology has changed the medical landscape for the better. The days of manually filing and meticulously charting records are long gone. With new technologies such as electronic recordkeeping and telehealth, medical professionals now have access to more information than they ever had in the past. This helps nurses to communicate more effectively and efficiently.

Although many nurses are not keen on the new technology being introduced, saying it reduces the amount of time they spend with their patients, over 82% of nurses agree that it can improve patient outcomes. Not only that, but the new technology available in the healthcare system can also help add time back to their day. Hopefully, this will reduce the number of nurses suffering burnout or leaving the profession for good.

Can Nurses be Replaced by Technology?

Although technology is unlikely to replace nurses in the near future, it is hard to know what the future looks like for the profession. One thing is for sure – nurses will continue to incorporate ever-evolving technology into their daily lives. This technology allows them to administer medicine more efficiently, monitor a patient’s vital signs, and care for more patients each day.

The ever-changing technological advancements in nursing are the wave of the future in healthcare. New innovative technologies in AI, EHRs, apps, and software development are increasing in popularity as more healthcare settings integrate them into their systems. While there are several disadvantages that come with technology, it’s clear that when used correctly, information technology can improve the role of a nurse.

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Mar 10, 2021 @ 6:40 pm

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