Innovation in healthcare is only getting started, and as clinicians, vendors and partners work together to design the next tool, it will only continue to improve. As we celebrate National Nurses Week, let’s shine a spotlight on the need to consider the point of view of a nurse in designing technologies that will improve the way they work. Here are some thoughts – from a nurse’s perspective – on what would make health care technology even more effective:
- Design technologies specifically for nurses – While technologies designed for all caregivers can be useful, it’s important for technology to consider nurses’ specific workflow needs. For example, nurses are assigned specific patients, so a granular view of a handful of patients is a lot more effective than a global perspective of all the patients in the unit. Nurses are also among the first to adopt and implement new technologies, which can be time consuming and take away attention from patient care. Tools that allow nurses to intuitively find the data they need on their specific patients will be the most useful to helping us navigate specific challenges and provide more targeted treatment.
- Make mobility a priority – The role of a nurse is inherently mobile – moving from bedside to bedside, accompanying patients, looking for clinicians, going to procedures – and all while prioritizing patient care. Innovation that allows nurses to access the right data and take action no matter where they are in the hospital can be a game changer. For example, we already have applications that allow nurses to receive alerts on smart phones, access the patient’s vital signs, and take action on the spot. If a nurse can’t get to a patient immediately, then she can escalate the alarm to a clinician using the smart phone, without having to leave the patient she is working with. Technologies that continue to fit into a nurse’s mobile workflow will be the most effective.
- Provide actionable insights – It’s no secret that nurses are overwhelmed with information and alerts, making it difficult to respond to updated patient information. When I first started in nursing we had only five alarms, which were triggered only in the most severe of cases. Today, nurses at a central station can receive more than 23 different types of patient alarms for a total of up 350 alarms per patient per day. These alarms can be critical to provide nurses with a warning that intervention is needed, but too often, the alarms lack appropriate context. The more access nurses have to actionable data, the better their ability to make an informed decision. Technology is advancing to trigger alarms only when absolutely necessary, and new tools are providing more context around alarms so that nurses have more details on a patient’s condition and can take immediate action.
Nurses are among the leading users of healthcare technology (for example, they’re the largest users of EHRs) and we need to make sure the technology supports them well in their role. Not only will improved technology make nurses happier, it will also improve their workflow and efficiency, leading to better quality patient care.