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  • The Awesome Tech That Will Underpin the Future of Nursing

    Published on March 18, 2020

    Technology has played a transformative role in nursing over the last few decades, as it has with healthcare as a whole. The role of technology in modern nursing is multifaceted, enabling nurses to work more efficiently and reliably, as well as reducing barriers to their training and career progression.

    Anyone with a passion for tech, and a desire to help people should seriously consider a career in nursing. Nursing is no longer a low-tech profession; in fact, modern nursing is at the cutting edge of many technological developments. From artificial intelligence and machine learning, to bioengineering artificial organs, nurses will be on the front lines of many of the most important technological developments over the next couple of decades.

    Electronic Systems and Care Provision

    With the portion of the US population who are utilizing healthcare services growing by the day, it is becoming increasingly difficult to reliably keep accurate data on everyone. Digitizing records has helped considerably in this regard, eliminating much of the human error and logistical problems that were inherited physical paper records.

    There are advances being made in these areas all the time, and these advances are being reflected in improvements in patient care:

    • Electronic records: Electronic records are more reliable than paper records, and they are easier to transmit over long distances. Furthermore, electronic records can easily be exchanged across borders, meaning that if patients are injured while they are overseas, their records can easily be sent to the relevant health authority.

    Many of these records are also being used in order to train machine learning algorithms. These algorithms are an important part of the modern healthcare and nursing landscape. It seems likely that they will be taking over a significant amount of the diagnostic work in the future.

    • Improving patient comfort: Ensuring that patients remain comfortable throughout the duration of the hospital stay is a vital consideration for any nurse. But with nurses across the US finding that the patient load is growing, it isn’t as easy as it once was to tend to the needs of each individual patient. Fortunately, there are now smart beds that are able to alter their physical structure just enough to ensure that patients aren’t adversely affected by remaining prone for too long.
    • Training and working remotely: An ongoing challenge for the nursing industry is to keep recruiting enough nurses to satisfy demand. The demand for nurses is increasing across the United States, but there are unfilled vacancies everywhere. Anything that we can do to encourage more people to pursue a career in nursing will benefit the entire healthcare system, and therefore the entire population. Technology now makes it possible for nurses to complete nursing qualifications, starting with a registered nursing degree, online.

    In fact, a nurse today could complete an accelerated BSN nursing program online and then go straight into working remotely, dispensing advice and assisting patients through telemedicine services.

    Better Communication Across Healthcare Institutions

    Efficient communications between health care institutions are essential for ensuring that health care can be delivered equally well across the entire country. Without the effective transmission of data between institutions, and reliable means of establishing contacts between them, patients will receive less quality of care from hospitals who do not know them.

    • Messaging and collaboration tools: Anyone who has worked in the US Healthcare system long enough can tell you that there is a frustrating lack of standardization throughout the industry. This is a situation that is slowly changing over time, but not nearly as quickly as many other people would like. There are now a number of messaging and collaboration tools on the market that are designed to enable teams of nurses who do not already know one another to work together efficiently.

    These tools go hand in hand with the growing number of similar tools that have been developed for internal use within hospitals. These include smartphone apps that healthcare workers can use in place of the outdated pager.

    • Portable testing: The ability to test patients away from hospital beds, or indeed hospitals themselves, helps to relieve pressure on an already strained system. There is now a whole host of portable testing technology available to us, enabling us to identify various conditions in the field. With concerns about a potential pandemic currently worrying the CDC, portable testing technology is going to prove vital in ensuring that people who are potentially carrying a highly infectious disease do not end up spreading it throughout a hospital full of sick and vulnerable people.

    Machine Learning

    There are a lot of misconceptions about exactly what machine learning is, and what it will enable us to do. In order for machine learning to be able to help us solve a problem, we have to be able to collect a huge volume of relevant data that we can use to train the algorithm. In the case of healthcare, there is a huge amount of data being generated on a constant basis. While respecting patient privacy is important, using this data in an anonymized way enables us to significantly improve our understanding and capabilities of various medical conditions.

    As the most common frontline workers, nurses will be at the forefront of these data-gathering efforts. What’s more, once data is converted into results via training machine learning algorithms, nurses will be at the forefront of delivering the benefits of those efforts to patients. For example, machine learning has been shown to be able to accurately predict a range of health conditions using nothing more than an image of someone’s eye.

    Technology has a number of roles to play in the future of nursing, to the benefit of nurses and their patients. Nursing is a fantastic career option for anyone who wants to be on the front lines of using technology to improve people’s lives and potentially save their lives. The future of nursing is going to involve an ever-increasing amount of technology, especially as automation takes over.

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