I cannot think of any aspect of our lives where technology is yet to be applied. Everything from our food, to the workplace and even to the dating scene has been revolutionised by technology. Nursing has not been left behind. While there are currently many emerging technology trends in healthcare, here are three that nursing should embrace to stay relevant and on ahead of the innovation curve.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the development of computer systems which can perform tasks that are ordinarily done by humans. With artificial intelligence in place and advancing in prominence, nursing will continue to become more technologically complex, while also needing to maintain empathy, compassion and touch. Patient care outcomes are improving as services are now faster, more accurate and more efficient.
Many monitoring, screening, and assessment related activities are now being executed through AI, by using advanced algorithms to analyse patient information and data, such as lab results, vital signs, heart rhythms, etc. AI is not contained to acute care or hospital settings as we are even seeing AI show up in long-term care.
For example, a Toronto skilled nursing facility is utilising an artificially intelligent robot to monitor signs of dementia in the residents. With all these technologies and more in development, nurses should learn about these emerging technologies in order to embrace them in the workplace. Embracing AI will continue to become more important in nursing, as well as in all healthcare-related disciplines.
The measures of success will include improving patient outcomes, the patient experience and hopefully improving the way that nurses practice. Using emerging technologies to reduce redundancies, dangerous or risky tasks and activities and improve the multitude of busy work that nurses perform is a welcome endeavour. This is a way to use AI to engage nurses for their true gifts of critical thinking, care coordination and the human factor that is so necessary for healing.
Robots are increasingly being used in healthcare settings, whether care robots or service robots. In Japan, cute robots that look like giant teddy bears are being used to give extra care to the elderly and help with safe patient handling. This use of robots reduces the risk of injury to nurses and can even improve the experience for patients or residents by providing for a smoother transfer or mobility experience.
A side benefit of these types of robots is that while they aren’t yet able to replace a nurse, they can free up time spent on the transferring of patients, which could allow nurses to spend time on assessments, direct patient care, coordination or patient education.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that integrates digital information into the real world. One example where augmented reality is creeping into nursing and health care overall is through the use of holograms, which are less expensive than cadavers, as a means to allow professionals to practice various medical procedures, including surgeries and procedures. Nurses can now practice in a virtual hospital before actually interacting with real patients. Locating a patients’ arteries and veins has never been easier. Augmented reality can also be used to stimulate different emergency scenarios so that nurses can refine their situational emergency management skills.
Keep an eye on the rapid evolution and incorporation of these tools into the patient care world. The impact on nursing will be significant. More seasoned Boomer nurses who may be less comfortable with technology will continue to be challenged to learn and catch up, while at the same time this will prove to be an engagement tool for Millennial and iGen nurses who are tech natives and are excited by incorporating more technology into the patient care arena.
What other emerging technologies do you think will impact nursing?
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