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How Nursing Has Changed With Technology
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and changing the way that we shop, socialize, and learn.
The most promising changes, however, are in the healthcare sector, where new technology could offer faster diagnoses and more personalized treatments, helping us to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
How Nursing Has Changed with Technology
Modern hospitals are high-tech, efficiently-run machines designed to improve patient care and allow healthcare professionals to do their job more efficiently.
Some of the most exciting and game-changing medical technologies to land over the last few decades have included:
Electronic Health Records
The electronic health record system was a game-changer for healthcare organizations. These systems contain all medical records and allow for easy storage and rapid access.
To understand how much of a difference these systems make, you only need to look back a few decades, before the world went digital. Back then, all medical records were kept on paper and stored in filing cabinets. They were cumbersome, messy, and unsecure.
It was also difficult for healthcare organizations to share a patient's medical record.
Thanks to electronic health records, everything happens with the click of a button and there's no need to maintain stacks of paperwork.
Electronic IV Management
IV management is another area that has greatly benefited from digitization. Before these systems were implemented, nurses regularly checked IVs and performed necessary adjustments to make sure they were working properly.
It was time-consuming and meant they were often tasked with monitoring a single patient when they could have been performing other duties.
Electronic IV pumps allow nurses to automate this process, giving the patient adequate care and attention without physically watching over them for the duration.
Automated External Defibrillators
The defibrillator was invented way back in 1930 and it was first used on a patient in 1947. These days, Automated External Defibrillators or "portable defibrillators" are found in a variety of medical settings, as well as transportation hubs, shopping malls, airports, and sports stadiums.
In 2021 at the European Championships, one of these machines helped to save the life of Danish soccer player Christian Eriksen. The midfielder collapsed from a heart attack and thanks to the fast-reactions of the referee, players, and medics, as well as the use of defibrillation, his life was saved.
Automatic Blood Pressure Cuffs
The automatic blood pressure cuff or "sphygmomanometer" monitors a patient's heart rate and blood pressure. It has replaced manual hand-pumped cuffs and reduces the time that nurses spend checking vital signs.
Ultrasounds allow medical professionals to monitor the health of unborn babies, but that's not all, as these machines are also used to check for soft-tissue injuries, organ damage, cancer, and more.
First used in the 1950s, these machines have potentially saved millions of lives and are one of the biggest medical technologies of the last century.
What Technologies Will Be Used in Nursing Care in the Future?
As noted above, there have been some incredible advancements in medical technology over the last few decades, but the biggest changes are yet to come.
The following emerging technologies are being incorporated in medical facilities across the United States and could offer a number of benefits for nurses and their patients.
Telehealth is a futuristic technology that has already been implemented in clinics and hospitals around the world.
Telehealth uses video conferencing technology to connect healthcare providers to patients. It means that vulnerable patients don't need to leave their homes, contagious patients don't need to linger in waiting rooms, and patients in rural areas can get professional help at home.
Telehealth promotes patient safety and provides improved patient outcomes, which is ultimately the end goal of all medical technologies.
Machine Learning and AI
Machine learning is a process by which large amounts of data are given to a computer system to teach it about patients, nurses, and healthcare in general.
For instance, if you add millions of records from patients who have suffered heart attacks, including their lifestyle/dietary habits and whether or not they survived for the proceeding 10 years, the system can learn which habits are more likely to cause heart attacks and which ones could help to improve a patient's prognosis.
These systems are already being used in education, recruitment, and marketing sectors, and they could soon become ubiquitous in nursing education and patient care.
Wearable tech is getting more and more advanced with each passing year. Commercial smartwatches can make emergency phone calls, detect when the user has fallen, provide geo-location, and even track a wearer's heart-rate and conduct ECGs.
With a little help from a healthcare professional, these devices can be used to monitor the health of vulnerable patients, including individuals with dementia, vision problems, and a history of heart disease. Caregivers can track a patient's health and location without a face-to-face appointment.
The daily duties of a registered nurse vary from the complex to the mundane, including everything from administering medications and making diagnoses to carrying around trays and disinfecting surfaces.
But that might not always be the case.
Robots that carry essential equipment, clean, and disinfect surfaces, and even support lonely patients are currently in development. These robots are being created by a number of different companies all over the world, including Aethon, Simeks, Diligent Robotics, and Xenex.
Summary: How Nursing Has Changed with Technology
The origins of nursing can be traced back thousands of years, but nursing as we know it today began with Florence Nightingale during the mid-19th century.
Since those early days of providing bedside care by lamplight, nursing has evolved into one of the biggest industries in the world.
Modern nurses have a wealth of tools and technologies at their disposal. Their job is still demanding, and as the population grows and gets older, that's showing no signs of slowing down, but these technological advances have changed the nursing profession for the better, and this is just the start.
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