Balancing Technology and Quality Patient Care
Nurses are usually on the front-line of the healthcare delivery team. Their desire to care for others is often what leads many to pursue the nursing profession. As a trusted source of information, many patients rely upon their nurse to provide comfort and compassionate care during a vulnerable time.
Although the provision of compassionate care, and therapeutic touch, have always been essential to nursing care, the methods of delivering this care have continued to evolve. Even though some nurses may have chosen a nursing career for the aspects of direct patient care through human touch and interaction, advances in technology have changed many of the ways nursing care is provided.
Incorporating Technology into Healthcare
Today’s nurse must be more than clinically skilled, they must also be technologically savvy. With the ongoing recruitment and retention challenges during the nursing shortage, it’s important for nursing leaders to develop the right balance between technology and effective workflow. Otherwise, an imbalance could potentially lead to patient or nurse dissatisfaction, or the nurse fearing a loss of the important elements of direct patient bedside care.
This may require acquiring input from your nurses as new technology is considered. Educate and support nurses as they learn new processes. Healthcare’s ever-changing environment can be overwhelming with an array of available healthcare technology for:
- Electronic patient records
- Scheduling patient appointments online
- Streamlining electronic documentation
- Information management options to collaborate remotely with providers
- Reducing medication errors with advances in e prescribing, safety checks and medication contraindications
- Expedited communication and online care coordination
- The ability to involve nurses in scheduling or allow them to self-schedule
Patient care technology has changed how nursing care is delivered. It has gone beyond streamlining administrative tasks and can also impact the delivery of clinical care. The ability to use information technology to make healthcare delivery more efficient and effective may tempt nurse leaders to invest in every new technological gadget. But success and positive outcomes aren’t necessarily measured by how much technology is utilized.
To help improve the chances for successful incorporation of technology and patient outcomes nurse leaders should ensure that:
- The technology’s value is evaluated while considering your organization’s needs
- The technology complements your nurse’s workflow to provide safe, efficient, and effective care
- Education, support, and resources are provided so that technology is seen as a benefit and not a burden
Developing a Balance
With the mix of multiple generations of nurses working together, some may relish the ability to utilize every available technology, while other nurses may harbor fear and uncertainty at the thought of learning something new. Some generations may have been taught to deliver nursing care that relied heavily on touch, sight, and smell to help gauge the patient’s medical condition and be reluctant to learn new technology. Balancing automated technology and hands-on nursing care is helpful since both are necessary aspects of providing effective nursing care.
Leaders are faced with the challenge of creating a balance that allows nurses to reap the benefits of embracing technology without completely relying on it. To maintain the human element in nursing care, and increase staff engagement, nurse leaders can educate on how providing efficient, effective care through incorporating technology may free more time to focus on personalized patient care.
Keeping Compassion in Nursing
Incorporating technology doesn’t mean that hands-on personal care that engages the human element of nursing should be lost. This important personal element to care is an essential part of patient-centered, high-quality patient care. Nursing leaders may need to ensure that their nurses don’t overlook the value of face-to-face patient interactions away from the monitor screen, and understand that this can be incorporated into their care without feeling overwhelmed.
Touch is the most powerful form of communication. This can be delivered through nonverbal cues and facial expressions that convey support and encouragement. Providing this attention is important for vulnerable patients with severe illness, or those suffering from physical and emotional losses. Effective communication and therapeutic touch can provide a feeling of safety. It may increase a patient’s confidence when they’re feeling isolated, out of control or fearful around unfamiliar technology.
- Make eye contact- this can be helpful for understanding information and can convey respect
- Listen- smile, lean forward, or nod head
- Touch- for a moment while doing care, or place a hand on their shoulder
- Consider visual and hearing limitations and cultural differences
Personal interactions that engage patients and family may encourage patients to take a more active role in their care. This involvement can help them become better informed, which might help improve compliance and outcomes.
Providing Quality Care
Advances in technology have provided many benefits to the provision of nursing care, but the need for the human touch remains an important aspect of nursing. Educating on the importance of balancing therapeutic touch, communication, and technological advances, may contribute to greater nurse satisfaction and increased patient engagement.