Nurses Week 2016: Technology To Make Your Job Easier

International Nurses Day is a time to say Thank You Nurses. Thank you for your hard work, thank you for your compassion and thank you for the endless care you give to patients. It’s this unwavering focus on patient care that we must keep in mind when developing and implementing technology for nurses both in the hospital and community. The most valuable technology we can give to nurses is that which is almost invisible to - yet improves - their workflow, simplifies complex tasks and enables them to deliver even better care – in essence, technology must make the job of a nurse easier. I want to take today, International Nurses Day, to highlight a couple of technologies which have the potential to deliver on all of the above.

Nursing goes Digital

I know from experience that the best decisions are made when a nurse has the most accurate and up-to-date information on a patient’s condition. And when that accurate information can be gathered and accessed in an intuitive and more natural interaction using technology it’s a win-win for nurses and patients.

I’m excited by the potential offered by Intel’s RealSense 3D camera which can be found in a range of devices such as 2-in-1s, the likes of which are already being used by nurses to record vital signs and access EMRs. For example, imagine being able to accurately track all 22 joints of a hand to assist with post-operative treatment following hand surgery.

For community nurses, mobility is key. Holding the most up-to-date information when visiting patients in the home ensures mistakes are kept to a minimum and all parties involved in the care of the patient, from community nurses to specialist clinician, can make evidence-based decisions. 2-in-1 devices help nurses to stay focused on the patient rather than reams of paperwork, while also helping patients better understand their condition and improving buy-in to treatment plans. The real benefits are in simplifying and speeding up those processes which ensures nurses deliver the best possible care.

Big Data for Nurses

When we think of Big Data it is all too easy to think just about genomics, but there are benefits which can clearly help nurses identify serious illness more quickly too. Take Cerner for example, who have developed an algorithm that monitors vital information fed in real-time from the EMR. The data is analysed on a real-time basis, which then identifies with a high degree of accuracy that a patient is either going to get, or already has, sepsis.

Clearly, given the speedy nature with which drugs must be administered, this Big Data solution is helping nurses to simply save lives by identifying at-risk patients and getting them the treatment they so desperately need. Watch this video to find out more about how Intel and Cloudera allow Cerner to provide a technology platform which has helped save more than 2,700 lives.

Intelligent Care

The rise of the Internet of Things in the healthcare sector is seeing an increasing use of sensors to help simplify tasks for nurses. For example, if sensors can monitor not only a patient’s vital signs but also track movement such as frequency of the use of a toilet, it not only frees up a nurse’s time for other tasks but also begins to build an archive of data which can be used at both patient and population effort.

In China the Intel Edison-based uSleepCare intelligent bed is able to record a patient’s vital signs such as rate and depth of breathing, heart-rate and HRV without the need for nurse intervention. There are positive implications for patient safety too, as sensors can track movements and identify when patients might fall out of bed, alerting nurses to the need for attention.

And when I think of moving towards a model of distributed care, this type of intelligent medical device can help the sick and elderly be cared for in the home too. WiFi and, in the future, 5G technologies, combined with sensors can help deliver the right patient information to the right nurse at the right time.

Investing in the Future

Having highlighted two examples of how technology can help nurses do an even better job for patients I think it’s important to recognise that we must also support nurses in using new technology. Solutions must be intuitive and seamlessly fit into existing workflows, but I recognise that training is needed. And training on new technologies should happen right from the start of nursing school and be a fundamental part of ongoing professional development.

While International Nurses Day is, of course, a time to reflect and say Thank You Nurses, I’m also excited about the future too.