IT, Healthcare, and Its Implications For the Future of Nurses
The healthcare industry has in no way been unaffected by the rapid changes in technology we have witnessed over the last few decades. How nurses administer care – and the level received by patients – has vastly improved as a result of this technological revolution. Every aspect, from the way a nurse takes a history, to how medications are monitored, has been made simpler and safer thanks to computerization. Some of the most notable changes seen by nurses over the last decade alone include:
- Electronic Health Records – It is hard to believe, but less than 10 years ago the vast majority of health care centers were still using paper records. Today, almost all have upgraded to using EHR, allowing for better communication between the various providers a patient may see. This alone makes for a better healthcare system for patients, as well as better efficiency for nurses and other health care providers.
- Mobile Health – Thanks to wireless technology and medical applications, a patient can self-monitor at home, and send the results right to their physician. mHealth is one of the fastest growing technologies available to healthcare providers, a growth that is expected to continue well into the next decade. Nurses around the world are using mHealth to freely access information in an instant, while patients are using it to send their latest blood pressure reading taken at home straight to their physician.
- TeleHealth – The use of TeleHealth is seen more in rural parts of the country, where the accessibility of healthcare is more challenging. A video chat with a doctor can help them get a diagnosis they need and accessibility to prescription medicine that otherwise would have been nearly impossible to receive. TeleHealth is making it possible for anyone to get higher levels of medical care, no matter where they live.
- Locating Applications – Efficiency in medicine helps to keep costs down, while still providing quality care. Data monitoring tools that locate devices in real time are helping larger facilities like hospitals keep track of instruments, tools, and even staff. This is especially helpful when dealing with mobile, high-tech, medical instruments that are in high demand for diagnosis and treatment.
- Wearable Tech – Gadget developers have been attempting to break into this field for years, and one of the few areas where they find overwhelming success is in the healthcare sector. Devices that can monitor heart rate, assess breathing patterns, or even read pH levels on the skin are becoming invaluable to physicians for monitoring the health of a patient once they have been discharged.
- Communication – The accidental release of confidential data has been a concern in the healthcare industry, especially when it comes to communications between patients and other providers. Luckily there are now platforms that can be used in conjunction with text messaging that protect any information that is shared, while still expediting its sharing. This has led to better efficiency, without putting confidential information at risk.
IT and the Creation of New Job Opportunities for Nurses
Technology in healthcare has had a positive impact on patient outcomes and efficiency, and it has also opened up new opportunities for nurses. With these advances comes the need for qualified individuals to assess the need and monitor its use. If you are a nurse who is also tech savvy, you now have the chance to combine your two passions, and be an integral part of this next revolution in health care:
- Clinical Applications Analyst – Someone qualified needs to be able to connect the flow of information via tech devices. Your job as an applications analyst will be to look at the communications between patients, doctors, and other support services and find ways in which they can be improved without breaching any confidentiality. Your clinical knowledge as a nurse is invaluable for this position, as you can accurately prioritize the information that is being transmitted.
- Clinical Informatics – There is a tremendous amount of data to be culled in a health care institution, and the clinical informatics’ job is to sort through it all to find its significance. Not all is exceptionally useful, and it will be up to you to help decide which is going to have a bearing on patient outcomes.
There are thousands of variables in medicine, and the need to sift through them all in order for IT to be effective. In the coming years, nurses will see a profound impact being made at all levels of patient care as communication tools continue to expand and improve the healthcare industry.
We’d like to thank The Network Support Company, an IT company that provides Healthcare IT Computer Networking Services and other services, for their expert insight for this article.