The nursing community is all the talk nowadays since they rose to the top as heroes during the pandemic. They have become one of the most important and sought-after professionals in the world, with more research being conducted in favor of progressing the industry.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Nurse Practitioners Board, digital health and technology will enable nurses to carry out their responsibilities more effectively in the future. The digital age is upon us and at a point where it can be used to improve patient care and provide easier access for people to get the medical assistance they need. Let’s discuss the seven new digital health and medical innovations that nurses can expect in the next few years.
Telehealth Services Will Allow Patients to Access Direct Care
Telehealth has been a concept since the late 1950s where American doctors would host a consultation through a television monitor. This technology has since evolved to become one of the greatest innovations in medical care. With the pandemic, the need for telehealth services has increased at a rapid rate. People are either too ill or too afraid to leave their homes for basic medical care. A large majority of patients that nurses deal with have skin rashes, the common flu, and infections. With telehealth, these cases can be diagnosed much quicker while the patient remains at home.
There are more apps now that allow patients to connect directly to a nurse of their choice to showcase their symptoms and discuss treatment options. If the patient requires a doctor, the nurse would be able to advise accordingly.
Mobile Integration as Nurse Aids
Using similar technology as telehealth apps for patient consultations, mobile devices belonging to nurses can use specific apps to help with patient care. Apps include ones that can monitor a patient’s respiration rate by listening to their breathing. The app can help nurses if a stethoscope is not on hand. More medical facilities are allowing nurses to use their cell phones to connect directly to a patient’s monitor to keep track of their health when they are not around. If the monitor picks up that the patient has stopped breathing or that their heart rate is increasing, the nurse is notified immediately to attend to the patient.
These methods of utilizing technology for the betterment of patient care are only going to improve as more advancements are made. It is clear that technology has a unique way of making nurses’ jobs easier while improving patient care. More simplified apps such as these will be designed to attend to a variety of patient conditions that keep nurses so occupied all the time. The future of mobile integration is just one of the many innovations to be expected.
Artificial Intelligence To Assist Nurses
AI was once a thing of science fiction, but not anymore. In Japan, they have designed nurse robots that assist human nurses complete day-to-day tasks. Nurses are not just responsible for patient care, they are also required to restock supplies, fetch medical equipment, and sometimes change bed linen. These tasks can now be handled by efficient robots to free nurses to take on more important tasks, such as monitoring drips and vital signs. It is expected that as the technology evolves, robotic nurses will be able to carry out more of the responsibilities of human nurses and provide direct patient care.
Already, simple AI technology such as automated IV drips and pumps has been implemented. These devices regularly monitor the drip feed and dosage being supplied to the patient. Software and medical technology allow nurses to change these settings remotely so that patients don’t need to call for assistance. The IV pumps can be set to individualize patient needs such as automatic nutritional feedings at specific times of the day, or when multiple medications need to be administered at inconsistent intervals.
Higher Education Will be Mandatory
With all the new technology and digital advancements expected in modern nursing, educational requirements will need to be adjusted as well. Nurses will be expected to qualify at a much higher level and to do it in a much shorter period. This means that the standard bachelor’s for Science in Nursing will need to be accelerated for nurses to become registered in less time. Their clinical hours will increase to allow for more practical exposure so nurses can gain knowledge and experience. These programs can be accessed at facilities like Marymount University where the practical component is included.
These accelerated programs will also have an updated curriculum to include the adoption of medical technology and digital health. Nurses will be required to be tech-savvy and capable of operating various devices. This is a positive outcome for nurses to look forward to because it will allow them to advance in their careers at a much quicker rate than has been possible until recently.
Smart Beds to Track Movement and Vitals
The medical field has already proved its innovative possibilities with the current technology nurses have access to for treating patients and monitoring their care. The more information that nurses have regarding patients, the more comfortable and safe an environment the nurse can provide. While nurses monitor vital signs such as heartbeat, blood pressure, and weight, this has to be done routinely throughout the day and night. The role that nurses play means that they are constantly busy and running around between multiple patients. This has increased the awareness that nurses need more assistance in their daily responsibilities, which has led to the smart bed that tracks all patient vitals and movements so that nurses don’t have to.
This breakthrough idea is a reality in some countries, which monitor a patient with a constant in-room device that the nurse can access. These smart beds are equipped with the technology to change the position of the bed for more comfort and to adjust medical supplies and equipment as needed. The major reason for this idea is that the smart bed can identify minor adjustments in the patient’s vitals or patterns in their sleep and heart rates that could lead to a new diagnosis or better treatment of a condition.
Wearing devices on our wrists to monitor health is nothing new. The fitness industry has been using them for years to allow athletes to track their workouts and improve routines. This technology is being integrated into modern nursing to play the role of a nurse’s assistant. Not only are heart rates, sleep cycles, and breathing patterns monitored, but they are also recorded in the patient’s file digitally. This allows nurses to gather important information throughout the patient’s daily bodily functions. With wearables they are more mobile than smart beds, however, direct digital monitoring removes the possibility of human error completely. The data is taken directly from the patient’s device where no room for error can be made.
This technology captures information much faster than any human being can, allowing nurses to continue caring for the patient physically. Doctors can also use the information gathered to make faster treatment decisions and identify discrepancies that might allude to other conditions that aren’t easy to see without testing the patient’s blood.
Integrated Hospital Command Centers
Not only are nurses in high demand but hospital beds, rooms, and supplies are always in vital need. In the past, it has been extremely difficult for hospitals to manage room admissions when they don’t have an accurate account of how full the facility is. Similar to smart homes that regulate your music and temperature, hospitals are employing integrated command centers that centralize the whole building. Sensors and monitors are placed in each room including supply closets and operating theatres. When a room is occupied, the digital system is immediately updated so that nurses know which rooms are available. When stocks start to run low on medication and gauze, the command center notifies the nursing staff.
This simple idea is revolutionary in-patient care, specifically the different transitions, such as blood tests and imaging scans. Integrated command centers help to facilitate the nurse’s job more easily and allow the hospitals to operate at maximum capacity without putting patients in harm’s way. Nurses are responsible for daily tasks such as admitting patients, securing specialists, and operating rooms. Delays with patient admissions and discharge, as well as the booking of important surgeries, are performed far more efficiently when the whole facility is centralized to one control area that every nurse can access.
As the healthcare industry continues to expand and evolve with technology, so will the nursing profession change as well. These seven innovations are only just the beginning of what technology has to offer in the future of modern nursing and patient care. Registered nurses will always be vital key players in the industry but there has been an increase in the awareness that this profession needs innovation to advance patient care. Nurses are at the forefront of the current global medical crisis and with this exponential evolution in the nursing community, the field will still be progressing for some time.