In my days as a practicing registered nurse, technology felt like something that just got in the way of doing the real job of looking after patients. The perception of technology held by my fellow RNs was that it was forced on them by an IT department and that ultimately it was more hassle than it was worth.
Today, things have changed. Nurses are truly embracing technology and, in many cases, I'd say they that they are pioneers of its use across the healthcare sector. Just one example is the benefits offered by the flexibility of using tablets and two-in-ones for patient care settings outside of the norm of a hospital or clinic.
A couple of years ago we put together a video here at Intel showing a nurse transcribing hand-written notes from a home visit on what would now be deemed to be a bulky laptop. Suffice to say that in just a short space of time mobile solutions have come so far. Writing notes on paper while with the patient then heading back to the office to input them into the appropriate clinical systems on a desktop is, thankfully, a thing of the past.
Nurses now captures notes in real-time on a mobile device during a homecare visit in a way that the patient is comfortable with and finds unobtrusive. Where nurses used to hold a pen and paper they now hold a tablet, phablet or two-in-one which helps maintain that all-important, trust-building eye contact with the patient.
All of this is possible because of advances in the computing power of mobile devices. To put this into perspective, it’s likely that the tablet carried by a nurse today has more computing power than the desktop of just a couple of years ago. Combine that performance with the anywhere-anytime, security-enhanced access to clinical applications via the cloud and you have nurses who do their jobs more efficiently and reduce the number of errors resulting from duplicating steps to document patient information.
We want to see patients engaging more in taking good care of themselves too. Mobile devices are helping patients better understand their condition, whether that be through showing x-rays or illustrating responses to treatment in graphical forms. Education is a crucial part of the modern nurse's role and I'm happy to say that this part of the job is much easier today than it was when I was practicing.
We've only scratched the surface though, as when we look ahead to the opportunities presented by wearable technologies which can send information to a care team instantaneously, we start to see the true benefits of virtual care. As the population grows and people live longer, this virtual care will become increasingly important, if not essential.
I'd love to hear how you are using today's technologies in your role - how are mobile devices helping you care for your patients more efficiently and effectively? What is the one feature that you couldn't live without? And what capabilities do you need moving forward?
Leave a comment below or tweet me via @intelhealth - let's keep the conversation going so that we can build the future of nursing together.