Over the last 30 years, technology’s impact on nursing and other medical fields has greatly improved healthcare provision. With the new technologies like electronic records systems, manually filling records and charting are dwindling. Technology has increased the productivity of medical staff. It has also influenced the nursing field by enabling registered nurses to communicate more effectively and to improve their efficiency. To keep up with the emerging technologies, nurses need to keep learning new skills throughout their careers.
Technology has led to new ways to diagnose and treat patients. Moreover, nurses are able to communicate using emails and attend virtual meetings using mobile devices and laptops. Nurses also work with physicians who use robotic devices to perform surgeries.
Technology’s impact on nursing practice.
Technology is greatly influencing the nursing field. With the evolving technologies, the nursing field has experienced positive and negative changes.
Some of the positive effects are:
- Improved accessibility.
- Decreased human error.
- Improved provision of nursing care to patients.
- Better Recordkeeping.
The negative effects of technology on the nursing field are:
- The threat to human life.
- General divide.
- Data and security threats.
Technology’s positive impact on nursing.
1. Improved accessibility.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have greatly influenced the nursing field. An EHR is an electronic version of a patient’s medical history, that is maintained by the provider over time. It may include all the key administrative clinical data relevant to the patient’s care under a particular provider. This clinical data includes information like:
- Progress notes.
- Vital signs.
- Past medical history.
- Laboratory data and
- Radiology reports.
EHRs help to support other care-related activities. This can be directly or indirectly through various interfaces like evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting. Moreover, EHRs improve patient care by improving the clarity of medical records. This makes data easily accessible to healthcare providers.
2. Decreased human error.
Emerging technologies have the ability to decrease the chance of human error. Using routine procedures, mistakes done by nurses who are understaffed, or the nurses who work for long hours can be avoided. For example, using automated IV pumps to measure the dosage of medication given to patients reduces human error and makes the medication process quicker.
EHRs help to reduce duplication of tests or delays in treatment.
3. Improved provision of nursing care to patients.
Evolving technologies especially in telehealth can help to mitigate the burden put on nurses since it takes fewer nurses to provide adequate care.
Telehealth also presents nurses the opportunity to reach geographical areas that are identified as having health professional shortages. This includes locations in more rural regions that lack reasonable numbers of healthcare professionals; telehealth helps address these shortages by effectively providing care to patients remotely.
4. Better recordkeeping.
Record keeping in medical facilities has evolved from the manual filing of paper records to electronic record systems.
Advantages of using EHRs.
- Reducing the incidence of medical error by improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records.
- Making the health information available, reducing duplication of tests, reducing delays in treatment, and patients well informed to make better decisions.
- Reducing medical error by improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records.
Technology’s negative impact on nursing.
1. Pose a threat to the human element.
Nurses have the role of establishing a relationship with their patients and families. They are responsible for explaining medications taking vitals and helping patients with their daily needs. Some of the emerging technologies threaten this nurse-patient relationship.
2. Generational divide.
Rapid technological advances are a major cause of older nurses retire.
In the nursing field, baby boomers (term used to describe a person who was born between 1946 and 1964) staff lack tech-savvy skills and are slower to adapt to the new devices.
3. Data and security threats.
Data stored in electronic health records systems are more susceptible to cyberattacks. With the recent advancement in technology, cyber threats have increased rapidly. If a hospital worker accidentally clicks on malware, the whole hospital system can get compromised. This may cause patient information theft or even death in case the attacker switches off the life-support machine systems in the medical facility.
Hospitals that have a breach in data or EHR, pay hefty fines depending on the severity.