How nurses can utilise technology to improve patient care

20170227110000, Azzida Dzaher
The importance of technology in patient care
Technology is an important aspect of patient care and can lead decreased medical costs in the long term as well as improved patient safety. In the coming decade, there will be several more medical innovations that will significantly influence the nursing practice.

In response towards this care evolution, having basic knowledge and being able to make use of technology have now become mandatory for all nurses.

Nursing technology at a glance

In order to keep up with current development in medical advancements, nurses are expected to be competent users of technology. They may not need to be as good as informatics nurses or other medical positions who are required to be proficient in technology, however, nurses in general are required to possess basic skills such as performing general functions of computer and software, entering data into electronic records, and other kinds of applications that will help nurses develop several technology skills (The Cutting Edge, 2014). Here are some of the popular technologies that are becoming more commonplace in nursing units.

1. Electronic Health Records

Electronic Health Records (EHR) is used to track patient’s health history that is generally made up of records from various healthcare locations, such as hospitals, clinics, and public health agencies (Huston, 2014). This computerised record is accessed on a daily basis, thus patients’ medical histories can be immediately accessed and their progress can be traced in one centralised database. The effectiveness of this technology can be seen through its fitted safeguards as important in assuring patient health information confidentiality and security is preserved.

2. 23-gene blood test

The evolution of technology has replaced invasive tools with less invasive tools for diagnostics and treatment. Howard (2011) found a new blood test known as 23-gene blood test that can be used to diagnose heart disease, instead of using diagnostic angiogram; this blood test was able to detect the presence of blood proteins that was linked to heart disease. The latest trial has shown that this blood test was 85% accurate in detecting potentially harmful blockages among patients, concluding that it has a high level of accuracy.

How technology is improving patient care

Realising that documenting or writing patient’s order on a paper can increase medical errors, a clinical software known as computerised physician/provider order entry (CPOE) was introduced. This technology allowed clinicians to write patient orders electronically instead of on paper. With CPOE, care providers can avoid any typo errors in orders, in turns, reducing medication errors based on imprecise data record (Huston, 2014).

With the latest updates of smart phone apps, nurses are able to stay connected with every member in the healthcare team. Hence, nurses can have quick access on information related to human anatomy, diseases, drugs indications and interactions and more. This is more practical than have to carry around heavy books, or stepping out to search for information.

Often, how technology is improving patient care is not clearly understood. Hence, in this section, some points and elements in role of technology in improving patient care are discussed.

To overcome and reduce the risk in medical errors, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) compiles and keep up all the patient’s health information in one convenient and accessible record (Wortman, 2015). When the information from the EHR has reached the care provider’s smartphone, this allows more support for informed care decisions, thus avoiding misunderstanding and conflict within the team.

Combat medication errors while enriching patient care

Medication errors can occur at any caregiving stage, and the possibility of making mistakes in documentation is higher when patient care is being shifted to another nurse or provider. Wrongly prescribing medications or orders can be devastating; through EHR and CPOE, nurses and other providers able to avoid those errors by having clear and accurate transcriptions (Wortman, 2015).

Technology can contribute to patient-centered care delivery, including making communication between providers and patients more secure. This indirectly prompted patients to get involved in their care decisions, and eventually develops patient-nurse trust and increased patient compliance (Wortman, 2015).

Technology indeed improves patient care, presents more effective solutions and treatments, and saves lives. Nurses who need to implement various technologies into their daily work must be well-tech users and stay willing to keep up with the latest technology. MIMS

Read more:
The many roles a successful nurse plays
Nurses: 5 tips for providing good patient education
The undeniable benefits of mobile technology for the healthcare worker

Sources: OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-18-2013/No2-May-2013/Impact-of-Emerging- Technology.html#Huston