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    Trends Changing the Industry

    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. 

    Nursing Trends in Diagnostics and Treatment  

    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.

    Electronic Documentation 

    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.

    Tomorrow’s Nurses Experience Technology Today 

    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 nursing programs.

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