The Digital Nurse

A nurse is the healthcare provider who spends the most time with a patient in a health care facility. When one thinks of digital technologies, patient monitoring or other diagnostic capabilities might first come to mind. However, there are many ways in which they can impact patient care by improving the processes and care that nurses provide.
At HIMSS2012, there were many companies selling mobile kiosks with tablets on them for nurses and other caregivers. While an improvement over having to go to a station with PCs, they are still cumbersome, mechanical, and not always convenient. Mobile technology is now available to replace the kiosk. Patient Touch, produced by a PatientSafe Solutions, is a mobile platform combining positive patient identifying process with EHRs and communications. It allows the nurse to enter data, notes, communicate with the doctor, and verify medication administration with one handheld device. Wireless technologies may also bolster nursing with patient education platforms. There are quite a few which may be accessed on tablets at the bedside. Such tools are invaluable in improving the patient experience by decreasing anxiety, presenting the information in understandable terms, and improving risk management.
Nursing staff scheduling is something which takes an inordinate amount of time away from patient care for a charge nurse. It is disorganized and usually stress-related because it is done on the fly. A company called Your Nurse Is On offers a real-time response bidirectional communication platform which matches available staffing to the desired position and location.
Patients at high risk of readmission to the hospital after discharge require close follow-up, usually with interventional help from a nurse. Remote patient monitoring, in combination with telephone contact has been shown to decrease readmission rates. Nurses currently are a currently part of outpatient centers with a focus on congestive heart failure as well as remote monitoring of implantable cardiac rhythm devices. In addition, nurse case managers will, in the future, be involved in coordinating implementation of wireless technologies upon discharge. This will possibly be in association with a knowledge officer who will match pertinent clinical information with recommendations for prescribed digital technologies.
Nursing is, according to some polls, the most trusted profession. Let the digital health industry entrust them with tools which strengthen their bonds with patients. As a physician I learned more from nurses about patients than from my mentors. They are the people in the trenches with the hardest job, in my opinion, and deserve our technological as well as professional support.

About davidleescher

David Lee Scher, MD is Founder and Director at DLS HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, LLC, which specializes in advising digital health technology companies, their partners, investors, and clients. As a cardiac electrophysiologist and pioneer adopter of remote patient monitoring, he understood early on the challenges that the culture and landscape of healthcare present to the development and adoption of digital technologies. He is a well-respected thought leader in mobile and other digital health technologies. Scher lectures worldwide on relevant industry topics including the role of tech in Pharma, patient advocacy, standards for development and adoption, and impact on patients and healthcare systems from clinical, risk management, operational and marketing standpoints. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine.
This entry was posted in digital health, education, Healthcare IT, informatics, malpractice law, medical education, mHealth, mobile health, telehealth, wireless health. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Digital Nurse

  1. Sid Brumbach says:

    In most hospitals the advent of computer charting, back in the early 1990’s, engaged RN use and adoption before physician use was considered. The rationale then was the RNs would act as change agents for a reluctant physician corps, which they did through physician teaching and support. This strategy proved generally successful provided the nurses were invested and the physicians were willing. With a rapidly changing medical environment, reinventing the wheel remains redundant and repeating this successful strategy seems prudent. Bravo for recruiting primary and direct patient contact stake holders!

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