The Future of Nursing
The future is here, and may be in your local hospital. Dr. Joyce Gentry, Associate Director Nursing Program at Columbia College, shared what she sees as the next advances in technology for the nursing industry.
Real time locating systems (RTLS)
Hospitals tend to be large, and tend to have a lot of equipment. This can create efficiency problems if equipment can't be located quickly. "These [RTL] systems typically use radio-frequency identification tags, ultrasound or infrared technology to tag and track medical equipment," Dr. Gentry said. "Sometimes referred to as RFID devices, they can be used for tasks such as locating the nearest wheelchair or blood pressure machine, centrally monitoring equipment maintenance cycles and streamlining patient flow and bed management."
Patient Locator Devices
In addition to monitoring where equipment is, Dr. Gentry shared "patient locations can also be monitored, which can help improve response times; admitting and discharge processes; and workflow between other departments such as laboratory services, physical therapy and environmental services." Patient locator devices also help increase patient safety. Nurses who work in mental health or neurology wards can use them to locate patients that may have wandered away or into restricted areas.
Electronic Health Record (EHR)
Paper records are becoming a thing of the past with the introduction of EHR systems. These systems allow medical professionals to store patient information electronically, making it much easier for medical teams to access. "EHR systems are rapidly becoming the gold standard in healthcare settings, replacing outdated paper records," Dr. Gentry said. "In addition to providing instant access to patient medical histories and records, EHRs can also improve coordination between all members of a patient's care team, alert caregivers to potential prescription drug interactions and flag test results and other items for follow-up."
3D printing is still uncommon enough to consider it new, though that is quickly changing. The printers have been used to make car parts, rocket parts, and yes, even body parts. However, there's a lot more the nursing industry may do with 3D printing. "This technology has been around for a couple of years and some areas of healthcare have embraced it," Dr. Gentry said. One such area is prosthetics. Traditionally, prosthetics are expensive and time-consuming to make. With 3D printing, both the time and the cost are considerably reduced, making it far easier for people to get the prosthetics they need.
If you're consider a nursing career, be sure to investigate what other advances in technology are affecting the industry. Then, make sure your nursing program is going to give you the education you need to use them.