There’s no doubt that technology has become increasingly imperative in today’s world, and that it’s changing the way that we live our lives every day. Now, more than ever before, technologies in healthcare are taking the spotlight. There are many options for nurses when it comes to personal and portable devices that make it possible to pack a departments’ worth of tools comfortably in the pockets of your scrubs uniform. Innovations and solutions in medical technology are being developed to improve almost every aspect of the healthcare system, and the following digital health tools are some of the most common among today’s nurses for good reason.
Personal Digital Assistants
Nurses frequently require quick and easy access to resources while on the spot in order to provide the most comprehensive and safe care. That being said, they also frequently face intensive workloads, staffing shortages, limited or inconvenient access to the appropriate technologies and resources and an array of other factors that inhibit their ability to provide this level of effectiveness at the point of care.
Fortunately, hardware devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) exist to provide improved access to electronic resources when and where they’re needed. In turn, these digital tools allow for more effective and efficient care. PDAs can include devices like:
- Electronic personal planners
With the advancement of information technology in healthcare and the newfound ability for patients to access their health-related information online has come more-informed patients than ever before. This has urged nurses to not only utilize PDAs but to sharpen their online researching skills in order to prepare for and avoid any lack of confidence when dealing with patients who’ve utilized the Internet to access this information.
Telehealth, especially when video-based, encourages timely and effective collaboration and communication that might otherwise be unachievable. Telehealth services are an efficient method for simplifying processes like routine checkups, prescription refills, screening patients and a lot more to allow healthcare facilities to prioritize things like treatment and prevention. To achieve this, Zoom works to connect the entire healthcare ecosystem, including:
- Professionals to patients
- Patients to their families
- Professionals to other professionals
Video-based telehealth services and solutions are an innovative component in providing access to care, as well as delivering it. Real-time connection to care supports the overall wellness of the population and ensures that remote communities and those with limited access to care can get it. During times of pandemic, lockdown, oversaturation, and staffing and funding shortages, telehealth can be not only highly effective but necessary.
Portable Diagnostic Devices
Portable diagnostic devices make it easier and faster for a nurse to care for a patient. These devices allow nurses to check up on and care for patients in less time and in less invasive ways by removing the need to relocate them from room to room and machine to machine. Examples of some of these powerful pocket-sized diagnostic devices include:
- Portable Otoscope — These can be extremely beneficial for small or obstructed ear canals, as they can feature built-in nano cameras, providing a clear image or video that can be further assessed on a computer monitor.
- Portable Blood Pressure Monitor — New-age blood pressure monitors are being offered in light pocket-sized versions that can provide measurements in half the time, which allows professionals more opportunity to work out prevention and treatment options.
- Tricorder — Quickly running and recording ECG, blood oxygen level, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, step count and more, the tricorder can efficiently measure an incredible amount for a single device.
Almost all of these devices have the ability to connect to a smartphone or another PDA in order to store results in a digital log, compare readings to previous measurements and share readings with other professionals. With portable diagnostic devices, even non-physician healthcare professionals have the ability to perform basic examinations wherever they are and transmit the data instantly for analysis, allowing for diagnosis and care in remote areas.
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As medical technology continues to advance, there’s a need for nurses and other healthcare professionals to advance with it. Not only do digital professional development program and tools allow current and aspiring nurses the chance to pursue their education online (like a MSN, DNP and PhD) when traditional learning methods aren’t accessible, but they are extremely beneficial methods for nurses to develop essential technology skills. To get the training to start or advance their careers during times of inaccessibility such as the COVID-19 pandemic, many nurses have turned to platforms such as:
- Online programs and courses
- Online databases
- Electronic journals
By utilizing these options, today’s nurses can grow more comfortable with medical IT before having to utilize it in the field, gain the necessary tech skills required by nurses in today’s healthcare landscape and, of course, develop their professional skills — all while being offered the flexibility to do so on their own schedule and keep the rest of their life on track.
With the amount of technology developed for their use, along with how beneficial their use can be, making use of certain nursing apps is a must! Whether it is for personal use to avoid nurse burnout or for professional use to improve performance, apps make up some of the best resources being offered to today’s nurses.
Apps for screening staff and patients (in particular for COVID-19 screening) are among the most popular and can be used to cross-check and validate the personal information of someone entering the facilities, as well as indicate:
- Recent travel
- Contact with an infected persons
- Symptomatic displays
- Recent test results
- Vaccination status
Through these types of screening apps, nurses and other healthcare professionals gain easy access to standardized guidelines and questions to determine the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Once this process is complete, as seen in most of the medical technologies listed, these apps will store this information for further analysis or future reference.
The advancement of wearable technology, as well as the growing desire for people to take control of their own health, has influenced nurses to take advantage of the many benefits offered by wearable devices these days. Wearable devices can be used with various apps and programs for various purposes, but they are most commonly used by nurses looking to take their health into their own hands and track their:
- Heart rates
- Exercise amount and quality
- Sleep amount and quality
- Respiration patterns, stressors and abnormalities
Wearable devices can be found in many forms. From a smartwatch accessorizing a pair of long sleeve scrubs to a smart pendant sitting on a smock neck scrub top, these devices are not just functional but fashionable too. Along with this, sensors for these devices are often directly embedded into the corresponding environment like shoes, chairs and mattresses. A smartphone is typically used to store any information collected, and it can at that point transfer it for long-term storage or more detailed examination.
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Excelling with the Proper Tools
Though they’re not a digital health tool, it’s important to note that a quality nursing bag or pair of scrubs will be the most essential tool of all. Without being able to efficiently carry and easily access all of these devices, the point of them is rendered null! The proper scrubs will mean the proper amount and types of pockets for your needs, instrument loops, stretch panels and, of course, tech-compatible attachments.
Technology is imperative in today’s world and, with rapid innovations and solutions in medical technology shifting the landscape, a pocketful of tech could mean lightening your handful of work.