The Pros and Cons of Technology in Nursing

evolution in healthcare

How Can Nursing Education and Nurse Leaders Help Prepare Nurses For Technology

Technology is changing the world at warp speed. For many years, Nurses have dealt with technology first-hand with a rapid evolution in health care. Electronic records, medication prescribing tools, tele-health, online appointment scheduling and mobile laboratories are just a few of the healthcare technologies that Nurses and healthcare providers deal with on a daily basis. 

Is Tech in Nursing Improving Patient Care? 

Advances in technology have shown improvement in quality of care and improved standards in hospitals even though one can argue that nurses and healthcare providers are spending more time with technology and less time with their patients. For example, if a healthcare provider is charting on an EMR in a patient’s room, the healthcare provider patient connection is thwarted by the technology standing in between them. The nurse’s focus is now the technology and not so much the human being. 

Pro’s And Con’s 

Technology in Nursing has many benefits: faster communication, efficient charting, increased patient safety, faster lab results and improved scheduling are just a few. Physical exertion is decreased while productivity is increased. However, some disadvantages include malfunctioning equipment, power outages, lack of attention to detail and security breaches on privacy. 

With the advancements in telehealth, nurses and advanced healthcare providers can provide health information and care to patients in rural settings from a distance. That said, telehealth also carries several disadvantages such as limited physical examination, potential for technical problems and again security breaches as well as regulatory and industry barriers. 

Privacy overall is a major concern. Since communication in the healthcare setting can be rapid and emergent, there is a lot of room for error. The Joint Commission standards have also been redefined, and they now allow texting of orders and patient information, if the clinician is compliant with a secure texting platform and maintains safety measures to ensure order accuracy. Similarly smartphone applications are handy, but should be carefully chosen for confidentiality as well as efficiency. 

Implementing peer-reviewed software allows data encryption of stored patient information, remote wiping to destroy data in the event of loss or theft, secure encrypted data transmission over WIFI, and coordination with facility-specific standardized clinical communication tools. 

Safer And Efficient Staffing 

“Between nurse burnout and a looming nursing shortage, post-acute facilities, which lack the HR and operational resources that larger hospital organizations have, have major issues with staffing,” states Chris Caulfield RN, NP Chief Nursing Officer and Co-Founder of Intelycare Nurse Staffing. Chris calls himself and Intelycare a disrupter to the traditional healthcare staffing space. “We provide a seamless solution for our busy facility clients to request shifts through an easy-to-use platform, while also providing back-end functionality that incorporates data science-driven learning, messaging, matching and pricing component that helps to fill shifts with nearby nursing professionals. We continually learn from our users based on preferences, ratings, pay rates, reliability, and request patterns to make the staffing experience better for the facility, the working experience better for the nurse, and ultimately, make the experience better for the patient who needs well-rested nursing professionals. We are rapidly expanding and plan on entering another 10 states in 2020 and have nationwide coverage in 2021.” With the ‘gig’ economy more flexible jobs are created for nursing professionals.  

Tech Companies Incorporating Nurses 

“Amazon, Walmart, and Microsoft have locked into Nurses as thought leaders,” states Dr Dan Weberg. Dr. Weberg is an expert in nursing healthcare Innovation, Technology and human centered patient design, and head of Clinical Innovation for Trusted Health. He further states that ‘many tech companies and or startups have no idea what nurses do. Nurses are embedded in the chaos and the complexity of healthcare and can add greater value in the healthcare technology sector.’  

Technology is being utilized as a major form of communication for nurses. More and more healthcare facilities are opting to use smartphones which enable for better and more efficient communication using texting between clinicians. It also allows for better access to information. 

The Real Question? Will Nurses Be Replaced By Robots And AI?

It reads like a dystopian novel or a film. Robots invading the hospital sector and taking over patient care. Suddenly a soulless, lifeless, silicon monster that evokes a sense of fear and makes you even sicker bursts into your hospital room. A cyborg is now your healthcare practitioner spouting dialog that sounds like “I’ll be back. If it bleeds, we can kill it. Hasta la vista baby!” Until they are attacked and overwhelmed with a dialogue of data from the EMR system also known as the data monster! While that may not be a likely outcome, the thoughts are worrisome for patients and nurses alike.

By 2050 1 in every 5 people in the world will be 60 plus years old. Riken and Sumitomo labs in Japan have created a ‘robotic nurse bear’ that lifts patients, rolls them over in bed, and carries them to safe places. Although a great invention that will inevitably decrease nursing injuries, nothing can replace a human being’s connection. 

AI (Artificial Intelligence), the intelligence demonstrated by machines, is supposed to work and react like humans. But, will AI and robots actually take over the nursing world? 

No matter what, Nurses and other members of the clinical team will be impacted as the use of AI and robots grows. As AI use increases, roles WILL change, as WILL the relationships with patients and families,” states Dr. Bonnie Clipper DNP, MA, MBA CENP, FACHE Innovation Evangelist Speaker & Best-Selling Author. “We need to remain the humans in the loop in this scenario and be the compassionate, empathetic, translators, and care partners necessary for patients and their families to understand the value of AI and US in the same equation. The more we can think about this in terms of the entire care team, instead of just one discipline, the more likely we are to adopt true human-centered ways to use AI as a force multiplier and work to improve patient care. The real question is are our leaders up for it? 

How Can Nursing Education And Nurse Leaders Help Prepare Nurses For Technology

Future nurses and nursing education needs to be geared toward learning new technologies that may not yet fully exist. Leadership skills that will be required of nurses to appropriately respond to emerging technologies include being able to adapt to and use technology to facilitate mobility, communication and relationships: having expertise in knowledge information, acquisition, and distribution, and understanding and using genetics and genomics. 

“Being a coach, cheerleader or change agent to help nurses use and understand new technology is imperative,” states Jeanne Vanella CNO (Chief Nursing officer) at Bernoulli Inc. University and Children’s hospitals are at a greater risk for implementing technology. She further adds that fiscal and cultural barriers can impede technology use and the most money a healthcare organization will invest in are EMR’s. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

We’ve reached the era of the Star Trek age in healthcare technology. In order for nurses to live long and prosper in this new era they have to be flexible and adaptable to learning. Nursing schools and healthcare facilities will have to meet the educational needs and challenges that technology pose with proper education, coaching and leadership. Nurses need to also bridge the gap and join forces with tech companies educating on the importance of the human perspective in patient care. 


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