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How Tech is Making a Huge Difference in Nursing Today
How Tech is Making a Huge Difference in Nursing Today
Right after the Covid pandemic broke out and the lockdowns had to be issued, the world was in unprecedented trouble. Now imagine the same happening in an unconnected world without internet – try to estimate the gravity of that situation. It is thanks to the internet in general, technology as a whole, and the efforts of medical professionals that we are still in the process of getting through the worst of it. Focusing on nurses in this post, we are going to take a brief look through some of the technological breakthroughs today that are helping them professionally and personally.
Education in the middle of the pandemic was kept alive solely because technology had boosted the quality of online education to a point where studying exclusively online was a reasonable option for almost everyone. Nurses were, thankfully, not an exception to that standard at all, and in fact, due to a strong online background for nursing education already being there for many years prior to the pandemic, ambitious nurses found it to be the perfect opportunity.
Demanding as the situation still is in hospitals, nurses are still able to pursue their higher education via online channels today. For example, the RN to Nurse Practitioner (MSN) degree course available at the Wilkes University is a CCNE accredited online program which can turn experienced registered nurses into trained nurse practitioners, without them having to attend live classes at the university campus on a regular basis. Programs such as these are not only helping nurses build a better future for themselves, but they are preparing a more qualified nursing force to meet future crises with more readiness than before.
Portable Digital Oximeter
Almost every home has one these days and nurses carry oximeters around in the same way that they carry around digital thermometers. It was used before the pandemic as well of course, but they were not needed as frequently. The portable digital oximeter can be clamped onto any patient’s index finger like a clip, and it should begin to show the patient’s pulse rate and blood oxygen level (SpO2) within just a few seconds. They are also infinitely more cost effective and less wasteful than using disposable pulse oximeters. They are disinfected with ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) before being used on another patient.
Infrared Vein Finders
Traditionalists argue that nurses should be able to find veins without the need for advanced technology, which is a valid argument because vein finders may not always be present in a clinic or hospital. However, it also begs the question of whether it’s worth poking around a diabetic patient’s body in the hopes of finding a workable cannulation vein, just for the sake of traditionalism?
The answer is of course, ‘no’, and every decent clinic or hospital should have a few vein finders preset for infants (delicate veins) and diabetics (shrunk veins). These generally work on the principle of identifying the veins with the help of a near-infrared (NIR) light. The NIR is absorbed and reflected by the blood hemoglobin present inside the veins, making it easy to locate exactly where the veins are.
Note that these are expensive devices and are not meant for personal use by a nurse due to that cost. Your employer should ideally have them but, if you want a cheaper alternative, there are a few LED based vein finders out there that do work to some extent. LED powered vein identifiers are cheap, but they are incomparable with their infrared alternatives. Even then, they offer nurses a better option than digging around blindly.
Automated Intravenous (IV) Pumps
Automatic IV pumps have been around for decades, but they were not exactly automated. Now, the most obvious question would be, what’s the difference? The difference between automatic and automated is huge when it comes to medical technology. An automatic IV pump is one that keeps on delivering the same dose automatically, without needing any further intervention from a nurse, after the initiation. Automated IV pumps on the other hand can regulate the drips as necessary, without human intervention at every step.
These automated pumps are capable of even correcting human errors to some degree, and always deliver or stop the drip medications at the right time. Additionally, the attached software allows nurses to change the drips as needed, from a remote console. They can also pre-program the smart IV pumps to deliver the right medication at the right time and stop the ones that need to be stopped after a certain dosage has been delivered.
They also add a mechanical advantage to patient care which cannot be achieved otherwise. To explain this one, let us use the example of a heart patient in critical condition, who is likely to have a cardiac arrest at any point during his/her stay at the hospital. The alert systems are designed to immediately inform nurses and doctors about such an occurrence, if and when it happens. However, there is always a delay between the patient being in danger, the system alerting the medical personnel and the medical personnel reacting to that alert in the most appropriate manner.
Automated IV pumps can eliminate that delay by immediately delivering the medication the patient’s heart needs to stabilize for the time being. This is a lifesaving piece of technology in so many situations, including the ongoing pandemic. Most covid patients who pass away, ultimately die of heart failure and automated IV pumps with preprogrammed reactionary drip administration capabilities can prevent that from happening in most situations. At the very least, they eliminate the chance of an empty bag pumping air into the patient’s veins.
As we can see here, it’s not just about having the latest technology in healthcare, but also about using the available technology in the most innovative way to make things as convenient as possible. For example, RN to Nurse Practitioner programs have been around for a long time now, but only in 2020/21 did they become the first choice for nurses on account of the concurrent situation. Similarly, the portable, digital oximeter has been around for a while now, but it became a stable piece of modern hardware by a nurse’s side only after the pandemic had made its importance evident.