As technology evolves through advancements in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), the nursing field is on the cusp of a metamorphosis. As a result, the scope of nurses’ responsibilities will change and expand over the coming years.
Technological achievements are eliminating many of the monotonous nursing tasks, resulting in more time for nurses to focus on their patients’ wellbeing.
Students pursuing their BSN online through Duquesne University should be prepared for more technological training than nurses in years past.
The Internet of Things phenomenon introduces new medical devices on a daily basis. Blood sugar monitors, vital signs sensors, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and brain-computer interfaces are not only making nurses’ jobs easier and increasing the quality of patient care, but they are also making healthcare more efficient. And nowhere does the IoT bring more promise than to people living with disabilities.
IoT expert and electrical engineer Mari Carmen Domingo, the author of “An Overview Of The Internet Of Things For People With Disabilities” in the Journal of Network and Computer Application, addresses the potential advantages IoT devices will have in the lives of the disabled and those suffering from chronic illnesses.
“Assistive IoT technologies are powerful tools to increase independence and improve participation,” writes Domingo, who goes on to explain that before the advent of the IoT, the overall lack of support services and technologies made disabled people almost completely dependent on assistance from their families and friends.
Advances in technology are allowing the disabled and those suffering from chronic conditions to be economically active and socially included.
The types of IoT technology that will soon affect nursing include:
- Remote Monitoring – Of chronic disease patients, pregnant women, disabled adults, and the elderly.
- Tracking Sensors – For hospital asset management, chain-of-custody tracking, and location tracking of dementia patients and fall risks.
- Personal Care – Reminding patients to take medicine, exercise, take vital signs, and plan meals according to dietary restrictions.
- Telemedicine/Telehealth – Allowing for medical advice and some routine care remotely via smartphone messaging, online chat, or video conferencing.
- Behavior Modification – Helping patients modify certain behaviors, such as exercise and eating habits, and addiction management.
As more healthcare facilities adopt IoT technology, nurses must be prepared to help educate patients on how to use devices, facilitate remote monitoring at hospitals and healthcare facilities, and integrate the IoT into current practices.
Patients are constantly trying to achieve more ownership over their own healthcare and to be more independent, Michelle Troseth, Executive Vice President and Chief Professional Practice Officer, Elsevier Clinical Solutions, said in an interview for Eden Estopace’s article, “Technology Evolving The Role Of Nurses And The Future Of Patient Care,” on EnterpriseInnovation.net.
Nurses, according to Troseth, can be huge advocates for their patients by learning what each patient’s goals are. Once these goals are established, nurses can match patients’ specific health conditions to devices and technologies designed to assess their condition periodically, transmit readings to their healthcare provider, send emergency alerts, remind them when to take their medicine, and track their progress over time.
The Nursing Community Evolves
Nurses are facing a period of transition and must adjust quickly to new technologies and practices. Adjustment may mean new skill sets and continuing education.
New technologies are already well integrated into the healthcare industry, according to the 2015 report, “The Digital Revolution Comes To U.S. Healthcare:”
- IoT could save the healthcare industry more than $300 billion.
- IoT is expected to become a $30 billion market in the next ten years.
- The FDA has approved more than 100 mobile health apps for medical use.
- Ninety-four percent of hospitals use digital patient records, making it much easier to record IoT data.
- The number of people enrolled in high-deductible health plans in 2014 was about five times higher than in 2006.
- About $8 of every $10 in healthcare costs goes to the treatment of chronic diseases or conditions.
The statistics point to a massive shift to IoT technologies, essentially making it possible to treat chronic patients remotely while keeping an eye on their progress from a central location. Fewer on-site admissions for chronic treatment will save money for both patients and healthcare facilities, freeing up resources for new patients and those who need extra care.
As new technologies are incorporated into healthcare, nurses also may find their duties and responsibilities changing. “The Impact Of Emerging Technology On Nursing Care: Warp Speed Ahead,” by Carol Huston in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, highlights four nursing leadership challenges taking shape now:
- Balancing the human element with technology.
- Balancing cost and benefits.
- Training a technology-enabled nursing workforce and assuring ongoing competency.
- Assuring that technology use is ethical.
Nurses should pay close attention to the progress of IoT technologies and anticipate the changes that are expected to accompany them. Nursing staffs will soon need to be competent in IoT, communication, information technologies, and even some data analytics.
Academic Consulting Group Director Dr. Susan Sportsman RN, Ph.D., ANEF, FAAN, discusses how IoT technology is slowly but steadily taking over the field of medicine in her 2015 article, “Nurses Will Benefit From The Internet Of Things,” on AdvanceWeb.com.
Sportsman recommends that the nursing community closely follow how the growing use of IoT is affecting cost savings, quality of care, safety, and patient outcomes. Remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and behavior modification technology are beginning to have a huge impact on the business side of healthcare (value-based reimbursement, performance management, and population health management) as well as on the patient care side.
Sportsman also describes how nurses can support the adoption of new technologies in their workplace. They can make a business and clinical case to their employers that new technologies are capable of tracking and responding to the highest risk, costliest patients. IoT devices can also help prevent unnecessary readmissions, through telehealth and remote monitoring.
Duquesne University Online BSN Program
At Duquesne University’s online BSN program, students receive the skills and experience needed to become effective, successful nurses in forensic nursing, nursing education, or as a family nurse practitioner. Because the program is offered online, it includes experience and education in state-of-the-art technology related to modern-day nursing.