Technology has vastly transformed health care in recent decades.
Advancements in areas such as telemedicine, laser surgery, and big data have changed the landscape of patient care—reducing risks, improving outcomes, and saving time and money. Health care professionals who understand how to use new technologies are able to provide better care, says Capella University staffer Adele Webb. Nurses who can stay on top of tech trends are going to become sought-after leaders, she adds.
A lifelong nurse and an assistant dean in Capella’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, Webb works with external partners, like businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies, to help ensure that the university’s educational offerings align with employer needs. That means Webb has to stay on top of health care trends—and one of the biggest trends is increased use of technology. “It’s an exciting time,” she says. “Much of what’s happening in tech is improving quality of care while decreasing costs and saving time, which is a rare and valuable combination.”
Here are three major tech trends important for nurses:
1. Tech can help nurses manage information.
With the transition to electronic health records over the past decade, nurses now have greater access to patient histories. Real-time access to electronic health records means nurses spend less time puzzling out past notes and are less likely to make errors deciphering handwriting. Because they have access to all reports available to clinicians, they are less likely to perform duplicate tests.
2. Tech can help nurses assist patients remotely.
Telemedicine has been around for at least a decade, allowing nurses to check in with patients at home via video link. But increasingly, patients are used to wearing “smart technology” on their wrists, Webb notes, and such devices could potentially be linked to wireless monitoring systems that nurses can use to track health information like blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight, and other metrics. Rather than driving to rural areas to make house calls or shuttling between facilities to make routine checks, nurses may eventually use smart technology to save time.
3. Tech can help nurses use data to improve patient outcomes.
Today’s algorithms can sift individual and group data to help nurses and other health care providers identify potential risks and best treatment practices. Predictive analytics can even be used to spot anomalies in certain populations. Nurses who know how to ask the right questions and cull the right data can make more informed choices regarding patient care.
“Real-time data and predictive analytics are helping nurses make more definitive decisions,” Webb says. “Data can be used to assess patient conditions and potential treatments more exactly. It’s definitely the way of the future.”
How can you prepare for tomorrow’s tech trends in nursing? “I think the main thing you need to think about is the educational institution you’ll attend,” Webb says. “What do they offer for technical training? Will you have access to major medical centers that have the latest technology? You have to take responsibility for finding the right program—one that will expose you to tomorrow’s tech.”
Learn more about Capella University’s online nursing programs.