Technology in nursing is advancing. Are you?

Here’s a rundown of the types of technology that nurses are using today.

Technology in nursing is advancing. Are you?

Today's nurses are working with sophisticated medical devices.

Today’s health care workplaces require nursing and technology to go hand-in-hand. It’s all around, all the time—whether it’s electronic health records, computerized infusion pumps, digital drug delivery systems, or any of the other technologies that are now being used in hospitals and other health care settings.

But all these new computer systems can be intimidating to nurses, especially if they’ve been away from nursing for several years and have to get up to speed on a number of new systems all at the same time.

Cheryl D. Parker, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, President of the American Nursing Informatics Association—“an organization of professional nurses and associates who are committed to integrating nursing science, computer science, and information science to manage and communicate data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing and informatics practice”—has some advice for them:

“Stop resisting change. Change and technology are constants in today's world, and longing for the 'old days' is a waste of time,” says Parker. “In my 40+ year career as a clinical nurse and informatics nurse specialist, I have seen so many nurses fight change when—with half the amount of energy, they could learn what they needed to know and move on.”

Nursing tech types

Here’s a rundown of the types of technology in nursing being used today:

Clinical information systems: This is an umbrella term that refers to an information system designed for collecting, storing, manipulating, and making available clinical information important to the health care delivery process. “It may be a single system such as a radiology or lab system, or multiple systems such as the electronic health record,” says Parker.

These systems bring together an organization's patient records, lab results, pharmaceutical data, medical research resources, and other information, providing nurses and other health care professionals with integrated tools to help them input, retrieve, and analyze data.

Electronic Health Records (EHR): Digital patient records provide instant access to a patient's medical history, improve communication between health care professionals, and offer flags/alerts to prevent conflicts over prescriptions and tests.

Today’s nursing students are well versed in EHRs by the time they graduate, says Marissa Bartmess, BSN, RN, a student in the BSN to PhD nursing program at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “With each clinical experience at a hospital, we were trained with electronic health records. I received some sort of EHR training every semester,” says Bartmess.

Medical devices: Devices such as infusion delivery systems and ventilators often have “electronic brains” that assist nurses by flagging problems and helping to avoid errors.

“Some systems can analyze a variety of subtle changes in patient data that could indicate the beginning of a potentially life-threatening event and alert the nurse and/or physician immediately," Parker says.

In certain specialties, nurses are working with even more sophisticated medical devices. Nancy Colobong Smith, MN, ARNP, CNN, National Director of the American Nephrology Nurses Association, was the lead nurse on the first FDA human trial of the wearable artificial kidney (WAK), a device that helps to make dialysis and easier, more frequent, and more portable for patients.

“There are perspectives that nurses bring from their experience at the bedside while caring for, teaching, and supporting patients in caring for themselves,” says Colobong Smith. "These perspectives are valuable and enrich the creation and development of new technology." 

Mobile devices and apps: Smartphone-based hardware and software technologies can help nurses communicate via voice/text, access the EHR and other applications, research conditions, monitor patients, inform clinical decision making, provide education for health care professionals, and serve as a barcode device to check medication doses.

Ambulatory care nurses are using digital technologies to allow patients to receive timely care at their convenience, whether at home, work, or in assisted-living facilities, says Debra Cox, MSN, RN, CENP, Past President of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing.

“For example, nurses are providing video visits to patients to assess wound-care progress, providing cognitive behavioral therapy coaching for depression recovery, and facilitating interdisciplinary rounding with a dialysis patient and family at a distant clinic site,” says Cox.

Drug retrieval-and-delivery systems: These utilize several technologies, including barcodes and automated dispensing machines, to ensure that patients receive the correct medications and dosages.

“Technology doesn't get tired and forget to check a dosage against the patient's weight,” says Parker. “I have been a registered nurse for over 40 years, and I would certainly not want to go back to the old days. Having barcoding technology to serve as my second pair of eyes to ensure correct medication delivery is something I wish had in years past.”

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 systems without leaving a patient’s bedside. The systems can operate wirelessly and connect to applications and databases containing care guidelines and other clinical resources.

Join today's nursing workforce

The future is already here, especially when it comes to health care. New advancements in nursing technology allow you to do your job better while also boosting your own professional development. Are you ready to find a job that puts you at the forefront of medical innovations? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of nursing jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. New technologies can often mean new job opportunities. Don't get left behind when there's so much to look forward to in nursing.