Innovations in tech are changing healthcare as we know it

20th September 2018
Lanna Cooper

Nurses work long, demanding hours to meet the needs of today’s ever-expanding patient base. Technology, however, can help nurse practitioners work more efficiently so that they can spend more time with their patients. Eventually, this could shorten hospital stays, improve patient satisfaction and reduce practitioner burnout.

Author: Ryan Ayers.

When used appropriately, technology can help practitioners refocus on the human aspect of caregiving. With the help of powerful new innovations, nurse practitioners could have more time to educate their patients and deliver quality service. They’d also have more time to engage with patients, form meaningful connections with them and serve them with compassion.

New technologies will most certainly help the newly emerging collective of nurse-managed clinics fulfill the needs of underserved populations. Furthermore, innovative technologies are enabling these practitioners to reach out to patients in new ways, and all stakeholders - patients, family members and caregivers - will soon benefit from the many rewards made possible by the latest crop of medical devices and equipment.

Still, it’s important that care providers don’t get lost in the emerging whirlwind of technological innovation. What matters the most is making the best use of technology so that practitioners can deliver the best possible care.

Most practitioners welcome new technologies
Recently, the networking website LinkedIn surveyed more than 600 nurses. The study revealed that many nurses have a positive view of new technology. Eighty two percent believe that it produces positive patient outcomes. Although, many stated that working with new medical equipment currently requires more work hours.

Despite this generally positive view of technology, 25% of the nurses believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have a negative effect on caregiving. Conversely, 5% of respondents believed that AI could have the greatest positive effect on the practice of medicine.

Overwhelmingly, 75% of the nurses identified Electronic Health Records (EHRs) as having the greatest positive effect in the workplace, while 19% believed that EHRs will have a negative effect. Also, 36% of respondents stated that new technology will result in the need for many staff members to retrain. At the same time, 64% believe that the new technology skills will advance their careers.

Transformations in the field
The paradigm that face-to-face caregiving is the best practice may soon be overturned by technology. Rising healthcare costs, the growing talent shortage and an expanding aging population are making this model of healthcare increasingly unsustainable.

As a result, innovations such as telehealth may soon be mandatory for helping care providers meet the public's growing demand for services. Already, elements of patient care have shifted to patients via technology, allowing healthcare organisations to reduce costs and labor demand.

The Accenture management consulting firm recently explored the impact of virtual healthcare in the United States by examining three scenarios that consisted of annual patient visits, continuous patient management and self-care. According to their results, virtual health innovations could generate value in these three areas of approximately $10bn over the next few years.

By using virtual health technology to augment caregiving and extend clinical capacity, the savings would come without expanding the current workforce. In addition, patients would become more engaged in their own care and personalised treatment plans would become more commonplace.

More providers are embracing technology
Relatively new innovations are improving treatment accuracy and helping care providers maintain the integrity of medical records. As a result, patients and healthcare organisations are embracing new technologies such as wearables, data analytics, smartphones and other smart electronic devices.

Now, organisations expect nurses to work with technology to view, record and see patient information as well as look up treatment information when needed, and across the nation, practitioners are educating themselves in working with these new innovations. Additionally, many facilities are embracing new technologies to reduce administration costs and save time.

Regardless of these advances, for nurses, caregiving is about the patients. Still, technology has ushered in a new age of medicine. For example, patients can now press a pain button and a nurse will receive a notification via smartphone almost immediately.

This allows the nurses to quickly administer medicine to relieve a patient’s pain. This efficiency helps practitioners to deliver better pain control and reduce the risk of requiring stronger medication at a later time to relieve patient discomfort.

Despite these many advancements, the nursing profession is only at the precipice of the coming technological revolution. Nevertheless, advancements in communications and technology have done a great deal to streamline the art of caregiving. Nurse practitioners, for instance, can provide individuals with healthcare information and - in some cases - prescriptions.

Patients also can now use toll-free numbers to contact care providers to ask medical questions. These kind of high tech, telehealth and other advancements are helping to reduce the number of emergency room visits every day and will change the healthcare landscape forever.


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