Technology impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives, from shopping to banking and
driving to work. Today, it’s an increasingly common feature of healthcare provision as well. Research shows that technology has huge potential when it comes to improving the safety of patients, reducing avoidable medical errors and speeding up repetitive processes. Used correctly, these new innovations can save the healthcare industry money while at the same time enhancing patient outcomes. Although it can never take the place of human clinicians, and adoption of this new technology can be a challenge, providers will increasingly turn to innovative patient care technology as it makes their job easier and keeps safety standards high.
A consistently reliable asset in medical settings
Medical professionals are willing to work alongside technology because it’s not simply a novelty addition to their practice. Gadgets, devices and apps proved their worth during the COVID-19 crisis, when telehealth and wearables became critical solutions in a difficult situation. These innovations, along with other forms of tech, delivered excellent results, earning the trust of nurses and ensuring their place in the future of healthcare. Healthcare technology was available before the pandemic, but its constant use during this period meant that both doctors and patients became more familiar with the benefits of remote monitoring, patient portals and smart gadgets. Now more than ever, medical professionals and patients are confident in the power of technology to improve care and make its provision more cost-effective. So, how is that being done in today’s clinics and hospitals?
Checking in from home with telehealth
Telehealth is one of the most accessible forms of healthcare technology. It makes professional care available to people in remote regions of the US and areas where it is a struggle to visit a provider in person. Patients can get in touch with their nurse over the phone, on a video call or through an online messaging service. Some nurses will also use specially designed apps to support their patients and write prescriptions. This can be useful for patients who are living with long-term conditions. It means they do not have to visit a hospital and expose themselves to the risk of infection. However, it’s also a popular choice for busy patients who appreciate the convenience of a virtual check-up. Remote appointments work in the same way as any other consultation; they involve a discussion of the patient’s symptoms, the giving of a diagnosis, the ordering of tests and prescribing medication.
Telehealth allows people with chronic conditions to self-manage safely and delivers care to people who are experiencing health inequities based on where they live. Therefore, access to telehealth reduces hospital stays and helps people become less reliant on emergency rooms. As such, it delivers better outcomes for all types of patients, lowers waiting times and cuts costs.
Supporting a better educated, high-performing workforce
The constant advances in healthcare mean nurses and physicians need to keep up through continued learning. This ensures they can meet the required industry standards and use the technology that’s available to provide exceptional care. As well as learning about medical innovations, pursuing additional certifications or courses in higher education is great for nurses who want to advance their careers.
Many choose a nurse practitioner route because it’s a role with so many different areas of specialism, from neonatal to women’s health and family care. If you’ve wondered where do family nurse practitioners work and are considering a career in this role, the Texas Woman’s University online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program is a great place to start. The course is designed for working nurses with a BSN degree. It includes three clinical placements and can be completed in just two years of full-time study. Upon graduation, you could take up a position in a hospital or a physician’s office, but this advanced qualification will provide access to many different medical environments.
Constant condition management with remote patient monitoring
Individual patients, nurses and the entire US healthcare system benefit from remote patient monitoring. This practice involves gathering data from patients who are wearing enabled monitoring devices when they are outside of a healthcare setting. The data gathered by ECG patches, heart monitor watches and spirometers, for example, is sent to practitioners in real-time and can be used to provide more precise, useful treatments. Nurses can measure a person’s blood pressure, sleep quality and temperature, and then adapt their care plan accordingly. By enhancing the practice of virtual care, remote monitoring can simplify communication between the provider and the patient, encourage self-management and lower the overall cost of a person’s care.
Collaborative technology allows nurses to share data quickly
Communication and collaboration platforms allow clinicians to deliver better care for patients, especially those who require a multidisciplinary approach to their treatment. Using a combination of cloud-based, desktop and mobile tools, practitioners can quickly discuss patient outcomes with other professionals in real-time without having to meet in person.
Collaborative apps and software make it easier for nurses to send and receive information to colleagues. This means they can work together effectively to design a plan of care and get a better outcome for their patients. Whether they are in a different hospital, state or nation, departments are not isolated from each other. As a result, excellent quality care can be coordinated far more quickly. Using shared patient health records and medical databases, professionals can locate the information they need within a few clicks. The decisions they make are properly informed, and even complex treatments can be delivered more swiftly. By collaborating to diagnose and treat a patient quickly, the quality of care is continually enhanced and costs are reduced.
Patient portals encourage people to attend appointments
Each year, patients who miss their medical appointments cost the industry billions of dollars. There are various reasons why people fail to turn up once they have booked a slot, but technology can address the problem in several ways. Patient portals are used in many hospitals and nurse offices to keep practitioners in closer contact with their patients. This software can help patients manage various aspects of their care, from repeat prescriptions to receiving test results and obtaining medical information. Patient portals make it easier to schedule an appointment at a convenient time and will also send reminders to ensure people know when they will be expected. Furthermore, as the process is completely automated, an AI handles each interaction and leaves nurses free for patient care tasks.
Gaining insight through smart beds
Smart beds represent an extremely high standard of care and are becoming more commonplace in hospitals across the US. They allow nurses and other medical professionals to track a patient’s movements, vital signs and weight without having to disturb them. Some also contain pressure sensors, which allow nurses to monitor a person’s respiration levels and sleeping patterns.
Furthermore, by alerting nurses when patients are getting up, these beds can ensure people avoid falls and don’t end up having to stay in the hospital for even longer. As well as optimizing patient safety, smart beds increase efficiency in a ward by freeing medical professionals to take care of other patient-facing tasks. The technology inside smart beds also allows them to be adjusted at the touch of a button, so instead of buzzing for a nurse, patients can change the bed’s position and get comfortable by themselves.
Consistently accurate dosing with automated IV pumps
Nurses can use automated IV pumps to set the dosage of each drip that is given to a patient. They can also set up an IV pump for patients who are relying on a drip for their nutritional needs, and the software will ensure a meal is provided at the right time. Compared to delivering a hand infusion, this is a more efficient process, as manual IVs can take a lot of time to set up. First, the correct dosage must be established, and then the IV must be monitored regularly to ensure it is performing properly.
Automated pumps are not fixed into one position in a hospital. Instead, they can be moved around as required and customized for use by each patient. In emergency and intensive wards, this makes them especially useful, as fluid administration can be set up in minutes, and the team can then get on with delivering critical care. As well as ensuring that patients receive the right medication and the correct dose at the right time, automated IV pumps take pressure off busy nurses, who can attend to patient care tasks elsewhere.
AI and big data help nurses customize treatment plans
Using vast amounts of data gathered from diverse sources, such as electronic health records, medical studies and national statistics, AI can collate and present usable reports. This information is used to predict patient outcomes and suggest treatments that have worked for people with factors in common. This allows nurses to be more successful when designing a care plan, helping to lower the risk of a condition becoming worse and even preventing re-hospitalization. AI can also take over some of the more intricate and repetitive medical tasks, such as image analysis. It can spot and interpret inconsistencies that a human might miss, so a medical professional can make a diagnosis and begin a course of treatment as soon as possible.
Prescribing software reduces the risk of medication errors
Hospitals are always looking for ways to upgrade patient safety and prevent avoidable errors. Indeed, the healthcare system pays out billions each year ,and thousands of patients lose their lives due to medical errors. Even when the worst-case scenario does not unfold, patients can suffer harm or injury due to prescribing mistakes. Technology can take the pressure off nurses and support better outcomes for patients in several ways.
Primarily, it minimizes the risk of a medical professional prescribing a drug that is unavailable, incorrect or a duplicate of a prescription a patient already has. As digital prescriptions are printed, there is no issue with unreadable handwriting and there are fewer delays in receiving care. Furthermore, prescribing software can identify drug allergies, dosing accuracy issues and drug-on-drug interactions, and then notify a nurse practitioner before the prescription is sent.
Caring for patients through portable monitors
Remote patient monitoring, which involves using smart tools such as pulse oximeters, digital stethoscopes and Bluetooth thermometers, allows nurses to analyze a patient’s condition without being at their bedside. Patients who are having their vital signs monitored in this way have more freedom in the ward and in the hospital. Rather than having their levels checked in bed every hour, this task can be done while the patient is in the facility’s café with their family or while they are dozing. As well as improving the patient’s experience of staying in the hospital, portable monitoring technologies support busy nurses who are frequently called away to help a physician or to attend a medical situation on the ward.
Improved planning with centralized command centers
Centralized command centers help nurses improve their patient’s experience and health outcomes through advanced quality control and coordinated care. They are the gold standard of traditional bed control centers, featuring innovative software that enables nurses to use real-time analytics and boost efficiency. By coordinating various departments in the hospital and connected facilities outside, nurses can serve more patients by maximizing the bed capacity of their ward and reducing unnecessarily long stays. This technology can also be utilized in the management of clinical supplies and the sharing of equipment.
Empowering patients and practitioners
Technology has undoubtedly become an important asset to the healthcare system. Advancements in wearables, the use of AI and telehealth mean that clinicians are able to manage the care of their patients more accurately and efficiently. Almost every aspect of delivering care has been refined and enhanced, from predicting patient outcomes to preventing disease. Now, in tandem with technology, practitioners aim to deliver optimal care as well as getting patients on board with these innovations so that they can feel more in control of their health.