Technology in Nursing
Allan Hoffman | Monster Tech Jobs Expert
September 08, 2008
The technology involved in nursing today would likely surprise even the most devoted gadget freak. Nurses must increasingly master a host of complex technologies, from “smart” medical devices to tablet PCs.
“There’s no way to get around it,” says Carol Bickford, PhD, RN, BC, a senior policy fellow in the department of nursing practice and policy at the American Nurses Association. “You need to know the tools, and new ones are coming in right and left.”
Nursing Technology Types
The technology nurses encounter on the job falls into two broad categories — clinical and other information systems, and smart medical devices, often with integrated computer chips and screens. Specific technologies include:
• Clinical Information Systems: These systems bring together an organization’s patient records, lab results, pharmaceutical data, medical research resources and other information, providing nurses and other caregivers with integrated, PC-based tools to help them input and retrieve information.
• Electronic Health Records: Patient records in this format provide instant access to a patient’s medical history, improve communication between caregivers and offer flags and alerts to prevent conflicts over prescriptions and tests.
• Drug Retrieval-and-Delivery Systems: These utilize several technologies, including bar codes and automated dispensing machines, to ensure patients receive the correct medications and dosages.
• Tablet Computers, Wall-Mounted PCs and Mobile Carts: These computer-based tools allow nurses to enter and retrieve information housed in a facility’s information system without leaving the bedside. The systems can operate wirelessly and connect to databases containing care guidelines and other clinical resources.
• Medical Devices: Devices such as infusion delivery systems and ventilators often have “brains built into them,” says Joyce Ramsey-Coleman, vice president of nursing and patient-care services at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. These electronic brains assist nurses by flagging problems and helping to avoid errors.
• Personal Digital Assistants: PDAs with add-on software can help nurses research conditions and check medication doses.
Furthermore, wireless technology integrates information from disparate sources and delivers data faster, so nurses don’t need to be tied to a specific workstation to get the necessary information.