6 Ways Modern Technology Has Transformed Nursing

Thanks to modern technological advances in many ways, healthcare today is an incredibly advanced, refined field compared to what it was decades ago. Medical technology that has been invested and advanced over the past fifty years has led to much of this advancement, and registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals use these technologies on a regular basis - from starting out with their training to working full-time in their chosen field.

Nurses today rely on technology more heavily than ever before, with many advancements today that most healthcare professionals would not be able to imagine doing their job without. And, technology can play a part in preparing aspiring healthcare professionals to work in their chosen career, having affected healthcare education in many ways. Here are just some of the main ways that modern technology has changed nursing forever.

#1. Nursing Education:

The effects of technology on the nursing field don’t just start when a nurse is trained. Technology has made it easier than ever for nurses, midwives, and other healthcare professionals to gain degree-level and vocational qualifications, largely thanks to the introduction of online degree programs, which allow for study from undergraduate level right up to a doctorate of nursing practice - DNP - and beyond. Some of the main benefits of studying online for nurses include:

●    Ability to advance studies while working full-time
●    Extra flexibility to choose own study hours and pace
●    Option to choose from a wider range of programs
●    Option to choose from a wider range of colleges and nursing schools
●    Reduced tuition fees

#2. Electronic IV Management:

Electronic IV management is one of the many ways that technology has made the nurse’s daily job easier. Before the introduction of electronic intravenous drip management, nurses would need to provide constant attention to a patient who had been administered an IV drip in order to ensure that the flow of medicine went uninterrupted. Even small movements by the patient could affect the IV, and the only way to ensure that errors were avoided was for the nurse to remain present the entire time. This could be very time-consuming and prevented the nurse from performing other duties or caring for other patients.

With an electronic IV monitoring system, the nurses can begin an IV and the machine will then administer the rest of the dose. The system is able to correct any mistakes or issues automatically or alert the nurse remotely if needed.

#3. Portable Defibrillators:

Up until the 20th century, manual CPR was the only method available for trying to revive a patient who had suffered cardiac arrest. In 1930, a key piece of modern medical equipment - defibrillator - was invented by William B. Kouwenhoven, a student at the John Hopkins University’s School of Engineering. His studies on the effects of electricity on the human heart led him to create a device that could restart the heart if it stopped beating. The device was first used on a patient in 1947 and successfully saved the man’s life.

Today, the defibrillator has undergone several improvements and updates in order to become the modern form that we know today. The latest version of this device is known as the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and along with hospitals and other healthcare settings, they can also be commonly found at:

●    Airports
●    Malls
●    Community centers
●    Public transportation hubs
●    Office buildings
●    Other public places

Publicly available defibrillators come with detailed instructions for use so that anybody can help save a life before medical help arrives.

#4. Automatic Blood Pressure Cuffs:

The automatic blood pressure cuff, or sphygmomanometer, is used to measure the patient’s heart rate. For nurses, these devices have led to a dramatic reduction of time and effort needed on a day-to-day basis when providing basic care or performing observations on patients.

Before the introduction of the automatic cuff, nurses would need to take blood pressure and measure the patient’s heart rate manually, using a cuff that was pumped by hand. Today, all they need to do is fit the cuff and ask the patient to sit still for a minute - the cuff does the rest of the work. They work well since they are not only efficient but also accurate and less susceptible to human error.

#5. Sonography and Ultrasounds:

The introduction of ultrasound to medical care completely transformed the care of pregnant women and their unborn babies. Before the ultrasound, maternity care capabilities were nothing like they are today, with little that healthcare professionals could do to track the progress of a pregnancy. The ultrasound prototype was first used for clinical purposes in Glasgow in 1956. The first ultrasound devices were based on instruments used to detect industrial flaws in ships.

Today, ultrasounds are used for a wide variety of tasks in healthcare including monitoring mother and baby's health during pregnancy. They are also used during medical procedures like needle biopsies, the treatment of soft-tissue injuries and diagnostics of various organs.

#6. Electronic Health Records:

The introduction of the electronic health record (EHR) system was another event that changed the nursing and healthcare profession forever. Before computers, patients’ medical records were kept by hand and stored in long rows of filing cabinets, with entire rooms dedicated to medical record storage alone.

Today, EHRs keep all medical records safely stored electronically and in addition to saving space, they have saved huge amounts of time for nurses and healthcare professionals. Finding a patient’s medical records is as easy as entering their names into a search bar and clicking search, compared to just a few decades ago where a nurse would need to sift through hundreds of paper records before coming to the right one.

As a result, medical facilities today have immediate, secure access to any patient’s records - even if a patient does not usually attend a particular facility. This, along with the fact that healthcare providers can share data with other organizations including labs, pharmacies, medical specialists and emergency facilities has made it possible for healthcare providers to make better and more informed decisions regarding patient care.

From training through to caring for patients, these are just some of the main ways nursing has been transformed by technology.