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Hi-Tech Travelers

Nursing and technology?

Today nurses must increasingly boost their knowledge of a number complex technologies, from “smart” medical devices to tablet PCs.
“There’s no way to get around it,” says Carol Bickford, PhD, RN, BC, a senior policy fellow in the department of nursing practice and policy at the ANA. “You need to know the tools, and new ones are coming in right and left.”
The technology nurses encounter on the job falls into two broad categories — clinical and other information systems, and smart medical devices, often with integrated computer chips and screens.

Specific types include:
• Clinical Information Systems: These systems bring together an organization’s patient records, lab results, pharmaceutical data, medical research resources and other information, providing nurses and other caregivers with integrated, PC-based tools to help them input and retrieve information.
• Electronic Health Records: Patient records in this format provide instant access to a patient’s medical history, improve communication between caregivers and offer flags and alerts to prevent conflicts over prescriptions and tests.
• Drug Retrieval-and-Delivery Systems: These utilize several technologies, including bar codes and automated dispensing machines, to ensure patients receive the correct medications and dosages.
• Tablet Computers, Wall-Mounted PCs and Mobile Carts: These computer-based tools allow nurses to enter and retrieve information housed in a facility’s information system without leaving the bedside. The systems can operate wirelessly and connect to databases containing care guidelines and other clinical resources.
• Medical Devices: Devices such as infusion delivery systems and ventilators often have advanced technologies built into them. These technologies assist nurses by flagging problems and helping to avoid errors.
• Personal Digital Assistants: PDAs with add-on software can help nurses research conditions and check medication doses.
Furthermore, wireless tech integrates information from disparate sources and delivers data faster, so nurses don’t need to be tied to a specific workstation to get the necessary information.
While nurses acknowledge the advantages of using technology, they also say training is sometimes inadequate, IT systems occasionally force them to rethink how they do their jobs, and technological snafus can impede their work.
Once upon a time not so long ago, nurse recruiters and hospital administrators said a nurse’s technological expertise isn’t a crucial factor in hiring. Not so today, as these technologies have become a true part of patient care.
As a healthcare traveler, there is an expectation that these professionals arrive on the scene ready to work. That means a quick ramp-up to the facilities technologies. Your team at MNA Healthcare can identify those needs in advance of your assignment to make sure your next assignment is a success.