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As advancements in technology
continue to impact the health care industry, nurses are on the frontlines changing the way patient
care is administered. “Staying up to date with changes in
nursing technology is no longer just important for nurses, it’s a part of the
job,” said Natasha Zurcher, MSN/ED, RN, CPN, adjunct faculty member at Kaplan University’s School of Nursing.
According to Zurcher, technology trends in
diagnostics, treatment, and documentation are changing the way nurses interact
with patients and creating a need for better understanding and acceptance of
technology in the nursing industry.
Before the extensive application of technology in health
care, nurses relied heavily upon their own senses (sight, touch, sound, smell)
to monitor patient status and changes. Over time, technology has introduced
equipment to replace some of these human observations. Zurcher points out that many of today’s advanced
instruments are increasing efficiency and improving patient safety. “As our
equipment becomes smaller and more sensitive, we are able to monitor patients
quickly and often, and with greater ease. In addition, computerized recordings
of these processes allow for better access to data used in diagnosis and
treatment,” said Zurcher.
According to Zurcher, portability of diagnostic and
treatment equipment offers improved comfort for patients as many procedures can
be accomplished at the bedside or even at home. “Improvements in battery life and
portability can contribute to shortened hospital stays which reduce costs and
can contribute to improving patient attitude,” said Zurcher. Recent studies have
shown that a positive attitude can help improve health outcomes
for patients in certain circumstances.
Technology advancements, including portability
improvements, have changed many nursing careers by contributing to the
increasing amount of patients participating in the delivery of home health care. “More patients are coming home with
technology and may be in need of home health care support as well as assistance
with using newer equipment,” said Zurcher. “Opportunities for nursing careers
in home health care are met by nurses who have a greater understanding of home
care equipment and technology,” she added.
The advantages of home
health care are numerous, including better outcomes, improved
quality of life, and cost savings benefits.
Over a decade ago, technological advancements made it
easier to record information, and many health care organizations began to
incorporate computers and computer-based systems into the health
workplace. As part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, health care organizations across the nation are transitioning to
electronic health records to build an interoperable national data
infrastructure. For nurses,
this means that electronic charting is becoming the norm. “Historically,
handwriting legibility and record tracking issues have been a concern in the
medical field. Today, due to an increase
in electronic charting, previous issues due to paper and pen documentation can
be eliminated, resulting in better patient safety, cost savings and improved
care,” said Zurcher. Training and
compliance in the field of electronic documentation is becoming a business
within itself. Zurcher cites the rising field of nursing informatics as an
important addition to the nursing industry over the past decade.
Due to the changes in
nursing technology, Zurcher said that many seasoned nurses are finding the need
for support in order to change over to a more technologically based system. In
acute care facilities, the need for regular training of current employees as
well as seamless transition of new employees can be significant. Especially in
larger hospitals, some of which employ over 1,000 nurses at any given time,
training and compliance issues are constant. Often larger institutions have
whole departments dedicated to nursing informatics.
“At Kaplan University, we
understand the demand placed on nurses to be experienced in technology. Our curriculum is designed to help nursing students become confident with basic
technology navigation,” said Zurcher. “Becoming confident in an online setting
as a nursing student can be the first step to becoming a productive member of
today’s high-tech nursing industry,” said Zurcher. Click here for more information about Kaplan University’s
The Rise of Telemedicine in Nursing
Nursing Informatics: What Is It?
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