There is no question that technology is progressing at a dizzying rate across the world in more ways than can be imagined. Medicine is one field where the innovations never stop coming. Digitalization, telehealth, and the use of big data in healthcare have already made a huge impact in recent years. Now, the advent of artificial intelligence AI and other innovative tech has the potential to change everything.
Naturally, most healthcare providers relish the possibility of new technology that could help reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve the level of services offered. However, many medical professionals and patients are often initially hesitant to embrace innovation. People typically worry that an over-reliance on technology could not only threaten jobs, but also remove the human touch in healthcare, or even cause harm to patients.
Yet change is inevitable: the real question is how to manage it and guide it in a positive direction. This article, in addition to looking at current and upcoming technological innovations in healthcare, will examine how nurses can leverage technology to enhance patient care and improve health outcomes.
Tech that can make a difference
There are already plenty of examples of transformative technology to be found, particularly in more advanced healthcare facilities. Smart beds, for example, help nurses track movement, weight, and vital indicators, just as wearable devices can do outside of the hospital.
Telehealth has also come into its own in the past few years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when face-to-face visits were kept to a minimum. Although in many cases there is no substitute for a physical examination, in appropriate situations, offering treatment over the phone or through video calls can be not only faster and more convenient, but also safer for patients and medical professionals alike.
There is also a wide range of technologies on the horizon that could alter the way care is administered. First and foremost is AI, which is predicted to revolutionize diagnostics and health data processing. A radiologist, for example, may have seen hundreds or perhaps thousands of radiology scans in their career. Yet sophisticated AI systems can instantly assess millions of scans and relevant data, potentially helping the medical staff to achieve an even more reliable diagnosis. AI can also be used to augment existing digital monitoring systems, leaving nurses free to focus on cases that require concentrated personal care.
A change is coming
As with all change, preparation and adaptability are key. Some innovations, of course, will fall by the wayside, but others are likely to persist. It is imperative that nurses learn to shape new working methods in a positive direction that can enhance available care and ensure better outcomes for patients.
How? Typically, nurses will try to learn as much as they can on the job, though this is never easy when time is at a premium. Some medical institutions also invest in external and in-house training sessions to help staff build the requisite skills and knowledge required. However, this kind of development is not always readily available in a demanding profession like nursing.
It is no surprise that many professional nurses are looking to enhance their abilities through a professional education course. The University of Indianapolis, for example, offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) that provides nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the future. The course can be taken fully online and can be completed even if you are in full-time employment. In addition to teaching skills, theories, and best practices in relation to new technologies, an ABSN also provides solid grounding in other fields such as transitional healthcare, health assessments, and preventative medicine.
Be prepared: the future is already here
All innovations bring both threats and opportunities, reasons to worry and potential for improvement. This is never truer than in the field of medicine, where, despite misgivings and missteps along the way, our advancements over the last 200 years have greatly improved patient outcomes across the board.
The only real choice is to prepare for the future by embracing and studying new technologies and the impact that they can have. Whatever the method, through on-the-job learning, training courses, formal education, or a combination of the three, the key is to always stay one step ahead. The future of medicine depends on it!