Nurses are the backbone of the medical industry. Without their presence, patient care would suffer greatly, but being that we live in an ever evolving, technological world, the way that nurses are equipped to care for patients is constantly changing. As new healthcare tech is introduced, nurses and practitioners are enabled to serve their clients in better ways. Efficiency and effectiveness are always at the top of the list of priorities when such technology is developed.
The number of hours and lives that go into the creation of these helpful machines and systems is massive, but the rewards are even greater. Being that technology is constantly impressing itself on the way that healthcare works, administrators, doctors, and nurses need to keep pace with these changes.
Here are 5 ways that nursing technology is revolutionizing patient care.
Genetics and Genomics
Genetic and genomic testing is already being utilized in many ways throughout the scientific medical community, cancer detection is just one example. These technologies also enable a level of prediction by identifying gene mutations present in a patient that might cause a risk for the development of future diseases such as cancer, sickle-cell anemia, and cystic fibrosis. The ability to measure the likelihood of a person as being a carrier of those genes helps to inform the patient and care providers of how such genes can be passed on in childbirth.
The same technology can be used in prenatal screening while in utero. There are a few professionals that believe that with this technology the healthcare industry as a whole could begin to make a significantly important transition from primarily one of treatment (care given after a diagnosis) to one of prevention. These genetic diagnostics technologies allow for astoundingly insightful observations into individual patients. If and when the presence of a disease is found, treatment can be given long before anything develops.
Also known as additive manufacturing, this technology allows for objects to be built, layer by layer (sometimes microscopically) until the planned part is built. Here is just one example: Doctors and engineer who experimented with this technology in the Netherlands in 2013 built a synthetic, prosthetic lower jaw bone which was then implanted into an 83-year old woman. At Cornell university a similar process was used to create a mold for a new ear that was then injected with a collagen and cartilage based gel. 15 minutes later there was a reproduced ear available to use as a prosthetic.
This tech has come a long way since 2013 and is now being used for the creation and replacement of tissues and organs. Made from a patient’s own genetic material, these parts are well suited for reception in the host body. The implications are fascinating and turn the body into a system of possibly interchangeable parts, much like a worn down car.
Remote Monitoring Systems
The creation of remote monitoring services is not a new idea per say, but the variety of devices now available for use on a daily basis is quickly becoming standard not just in healthcare, but culturally. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, apps, while some of these are just popular additions to an individual’s goal of a healthy lifestyle, the same technology is becoming standard in healthcare.
For people with more chronic conditions like diabetes, stroke, and heart attack victims, and more the presence of tech which allows for the tracking and recording of in-time medical data can mean the difference between life and death. Healthcare providers are not just using these to keep people alive but to offer better informed, proactive choices which act as a preventative measure to declining health.
A great example of this is in helping those with inhalers: a simple reminder helps patients to maintain a consistent schedule for drug dosages.
Robotic technology is also not a new idea and the presence of its use in healthcare is continuing to shift patient care. There are plenty of ways this will happen, but one of the most present concerns in healthcare— that of workforce shortages in the midst of rising elderly patient care— has already begun. A high quality of care, not subject to human limitations of need for sleep and sustenance, is a significant factor to pay attention to. The potential effects of robotics used as direct service providers are enormous.
There are plenty of these robots already in testing and development, and while production may take time, they are already in use for mental health care. In Japan, one such robot, named Paro, has been produced by the thousands. The movements of the machine, which are dictated by physical interactions from the patient, are meant to be therapeutic primarily for the elderly and autistic children.
In another realm, robots are being more frequently employed as couriers who can deliver medications, information, and supplies. Patients may not ever have to leave the safety of their homes.
Electronic Health Record Keeping
Health records kept electronically are near standard nowadays, but the service continues to evolve with technological advancements. These electronic health records (EHR’s) are collections of patient data from the multiple providers that have seen and treated the patient over their lifetime. Being that this ERH data is available 24 hours a day helps to provide vital data no matter the situation, routine or crisis based. The sharing of this data across offices streamlines patient care.
No matter where you look today, technology is affecting health care in a positive way. The adoption and implementation of new, evidence based practices are helping nurses and simultaneously revolutionizing the healthcare industry for both providers and patients.