Technology is changing jobs that used to seem safe from automation and robotic penetration. As the world wonders what generative AI will mean for white-collar jobs that once seemed entirely insulated from the possibility of automation, there is a quieter technological revolution taking place within the healthcare system.
Nurses and doctors are now expected to understand technology in a way that once was not necessary. But, in an era where hospitals are leveraging data like never before, and robotic surgeons and nurses are rapidly moving towards proliferation, a degree of technological competence is necessary.
What tech skills do nurses need to both thrive professionally and better assist their patients?
In this article, we provide a sweeping overview of what tech-related skills modern nurses need to be successful.
First, is Nursing Right for Me?
It’s a very valid question, particularly for people who have watched the news, and can’t stop reporting on what has been dubbed “the mass resignation.” Nurses quit all over the world because the job turned out to be not quite what they expected.
In fact, almost half of all new nurses quit within the first five years of the job. Do these people know something that you don’t?
Sure. They know that it’s a hard job. Much harder than a person pouring over school books can understand. This nursing shortage has been in the making for decades for exactly that reason. Old nurses retire. Not enough people come up through the ranks to take their place.
If you want to be successful in nursing, you do need to be able to tolerate long hours, challenging work, and difficult situations that constantly test your emotional fortitude.
These have always and will always be challenging aspects of the job. If there is any consolation at all, it’s that technology does make the work a little bit easier. While nothing can completely soothe the emotional, mental, and physical challenges of nursing, technology is making some tasks simpler, while also improving patient outcomes overall.
Below, we take a look at several key tech skills that every nurse should have.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring technologies make it easier than ever for healthcare professionals to check in on their patients. Some of these devices are simple and common. For example, fitness trackers are wearable health devices that provide constant health-related data to their users.
Other devices are more complex. Glucose and heart monitors are now both capable of transmitting information directly to healthcare workers, allowing for more comprehensive monitoring.
In the hospital setting, remote patient monitoring technology allows nurses to get constant updates on all of their patients, even when they aren’t physically with them.
Smart hospital beds are even able to transmit valuable insights into the patient’s vitals, letting nurses know immediately when a significant change has taken place.
Nurses must be able to work with remote monitoring technology to improve patient outcomes.
Hospitals use data for a wide variety of applications. This can include everything from determining treatment plans to figuring out more efficient ways to optimize the hospital workflow. The extent to which nurses must interpret data can vary significantly.
However, it is worth noting that there are certain types of nurses (informatic) who work very specifically with the numbers to optimize operations. While this is currently a relatively new position, it is expected to grow substantially in prominence over the next few years.
Healthcare is taking place online now more than ever. Patients with minor questions or problems can now communicate with their healthcare providers through online chatting or even video calls. This service makes it easier for people to get care, regardless of their mobility, while also optimizing the workflow at hospitals.
Doctor’s offices can operate much more effectively when they aren’t getting bottlenecked by smaller cases.
Nurses should be aware of what it takes to provide high-quality remote care.
This one may sound silly, or even self-explanatory, but it’s actually of extreme importance. As healthcare becomes increasingly more virtual and technologically driven, the amount of personal information in the “cloud,” increases.
This has been the case ever since electronic health records became the norm. It used to be relatively easy and straightforward to keep patient information safe and secure. The files were physical objects. They were kept in a room you could see. And lock.
Not anymore. Now, patient privacy depends very literally on the competence of the patients themselves and the healthcare workers who take care of them.
Very small mistakes can have very big ramifications, and bad actors tend to target hospitals for two reasons.
- It’s lucrative: Personal health information has significant value on the black market. People will use the information contained in electronic health files to steal identities, allowing cybercriminals to profit significantly from acts of theft.
- It creates fear: When hospitals are targeted by cybercriminals, it’s often more about creating fear and unease than it is about the actual records that are being stolen. Cyber terrorists have the same objectives as their physical counterparts. They want to spread fear and confusion. Something they can accomplish easily by making people uncomfortable using the healthcare systems that are designed to take care of them.
All it takes is one slip-up from a healthcare worker to result in a significant breach. Nurses can help by regularly refreshing their understanding of cyber security protocols, and by carefully following the protocol set in place by the hospital.
As with all of the tech skills described in this article, best cyber security practices are all about continuous learning. If there is one thing you can count on from tech, it’s that it will change constantly. Nurses who want to keep their skills relevant must be willing to change with it, gaining new insights and learning how to use the most modern tools effectively to better serve their patients. It’s not always easy or fun, but it’s necessary to stay relevant in a constantly evolving digital landscape.