A close friend in IT is always going on about the “coolness” of this or that new gadget/device. But cool is not always smart. As a nurse, what really matters is the impact a device has on both my patients and me. Some call this workflow. I call it, “how I do my job”.
By my estimates, the typical nurse spends almost 40 minutes out of a four-hour rotation simply keeping numbers current. By the time the doctors and interdisciplinary care team actually receive the information, they’re often not the most up-to-date parameters. To me, smart technology should help me decrease the time I spend inputting data and increase the time I spend directly caring for my patients.
PDAs, iPhones and iPads may be the latest technology, and many hospitals are considering incorporating them into every part of nursing workflow. But I’m not so sure these devices will achieve what these hospitals intended. In my experience, adding to the nurse’s tool belt (which can include as many as 15 other devices) can sometimes weigh nurses down rather than increase the time directly interacting with patients. Our hands should be on the patient, not another device.
Our goal as nurses should never be to become the first to use an innovative new technology. It’s to deliver safe, competent, and compassionate care. So, before moving ahead with the introduction of mobile technologies, perhaps a hospital should address the following issues:
Is it easy to use? Has it been thoroughly tested in the care environment?
How many steps must the nurse complete in order to get data to its end location? Is it intuitive? Simple? Fast?
Does it need to be put down for best data input? Where do we put the device if the patient needs our immediate attention? Then what about the transmission of infectious properties as we go from room to room?
Must the batteries be charged throughout the day due to heavy use? And, what about those batteries over time?
Have you used this type of mobile technology at the point-of-care? Have I left anything out? How can it be used to the greatest benefit to the hospital, nursing and, most important, the patient?