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Technological advancement is speeding up, and its increasing application touches nearly every industry and ecosystem. Nursing is no exception. From nursing education to the introduction of AI and robotics into nursing practice and care provision, technology is creating sweeping changes to nursing. These advancements will significantly influence the future of nursing and could usher in a new, more sophisticated, and more effective healthcare environment that will benefit nursing professionals and patients alike.
Instructing the Next Generation of Nurses
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the health and education system upside down – including that which trains and accredits our nurses – upside down. Very suddenly, and for an extended period of time, remote learning was the only option for many nursing students and faculty to continue or finish their education programming. Because of technology’s current state, much of the world’s nursing programs and education was able to continue virtually and remotely. However, significant challenges were encountered. They required those in the nursing field to act with strategy, adaptation, innovation, and technological skill.
In a post-pandemic world, it is probable that many of the technological applications that were necessarily applied during the pandemic may remain part of nursing instruction in the future. Providing remote instruction presents advantages that some higher education nursing programs will opt to keep. It’s important, thus, for nursing educators to learn technological best practice for teaching nursing students effectively via remote or digital learning.
Technologies that will likely remain a part of nursing education and grow in use include remote learning systems (online classrooms, chats, and digital assessment platforms); mobile technology (harnessing student mobile devices for monitoring learning or providing digital tools for curriculum or practice); and more. Plenty of resources exist for nursing educators that want to learn how to get the most out of current and developing technology for their nursing students and programs.
How Tech Will Continue Improving Patient Care
Technological changes aren’t limited to nursing education. There are a number of ways technology has already significantly changed the nursing process.
- Using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has become a standard in medical care provision environments. EHRs allow all a patient’s medical history to be accessible via a digital file. Because digital devices (such as iPads, laptops, and floor or department workstations) are becoming commonplace in most medical settings, nurses often have instant access to information that would have previously been difficult or impossible to retrieve at a moment’s notice. This improves the level of care nurses can provide and the accuracy and efficacy of the decisions they make surrounding patient care.
- Applying hands-off technologies like automatic IV dispensers and other ways of automating routine or scheduled tasks can reduce workload on nurses and allow them to concentrate on patient interaction and other responsibilities.
- Telehealth platforms allow for some types of care provision to be executed remotely via digital or video conferencing systems. This provides convenience for patients by removing the travel necessary to go to the doctor, and is especially helpful for patients without transportation or who don’t easily get out of the house. Using telehealth systems also benefits nurses in that it removes some of the back and forth and movement necessary in a traditional in- or outpatient setting, allowing them more time to spend with each patient.
The Benefits of AI & Robotics in Nursing
Artificial Intelligence (AI) applies digital software to perform tasks more efficiently and effectively than is sometimes possible by a human brain. Robotics extends digital augmentation to the physical, linking sophisticated software with physical implementation. Both branches of technology are already beginning to reshape nursing practice and healthcare provision:
- Artificial intelligence can be applied to patient diagnostics, data analysis, and care plan decision-making. AI allows medical professionals access to analytical capabilities that far surpass those of the human mind, increasing decision effectiveness and making data-driven care strategies much more possible.
- Virtual reality technology can utilize AI and machine learning to simulate real-life scenarios nurses may face while providing care. Utilizing these training tools helps prepare nurses to take practiced and effective action in high-stress or difficult situations.
- Robots and robotic implements are quickly being integrated into the healthcare system in a variety of ways. Interactive robots can be used to greet patients as they enter medical spaces, measure vital signs, or perform routine tasks that can alleviate nurses and allow them to concentrate on more complex tasks. Robotic arms and surgical instruments are being applied to some types of surgeries and operations, allowing for programmed movement and higher levels of precision than are sometimes achievable by humans.
As technology continues to advance, the ways in which it can be applied to enhancing nursing practice and healthcare as a whole will only improve and increase. Applying technology to patient care is transforming nursing and creating substantial benefit for nurses, patients, and healthcare providers alike.