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December 12, 2017

Nurses and other healthcare providers have always been on the cutting edge of adopting the newest technologies such as electronic health records and electronic medication administration records. Now, wearable technology is the latest technology to show up on the horizon. And the implications could easily change the way healthcare is delivered—and have a huge impact on overall population health.

Wearable technology can connect patients and their care providers to make real time data available literally at their fingertips. It can also potentially alert the healthcare provider to changes in patient status to improve patient outcomes. Imagine being alerted on your smart watch that a patient’s critical lab results are available and getting this alert without having to review a chart or log onto the electronic medical record. This may someday be possible with the right technology that can connect patient records directly to a care provider’s wearable device. Think of the improvements to care coordination—and the lifesaving capabilities this could bring.

A recent article from the ANA talks about how wearable technology could be used by nurses to receive a text message when a patient is showing signs of infection but doesn’t yet feel sick. Or they could receive an alert that a patient is becoming anemic because her sensors are picking up signs of tachycardia.

Wearable technology may help improve patient satisfaction and improve patient outcomes. Consider the impact of increased communication.

Communication among providers

Devices like smartwatches could allow nurses to use voice commands or gestures to quickly send updates, reminders, or alerts to other clinicians via text message or email—all without having to fumble for a handheld device. This could be especially useful in settings where teams of providers need to mobilize quickly, like the emergency department. (It could also contribute to a quieter hospital environment overall, which has been shown to increase patient satisfaction.) A wearable device might also alert a nurse about a sudden change in patient status, which could contribute to a faster response and a better patient outcome.

Wearables could also give nurses the ability to enhance assistance by utilizing voice commands and real time alerting regarding emerging patient needs—something especially important in cases of medical emergencies.

Almost anything you can imagine doing with constant access to a secure hands-free computer and communication line—without having to carry anything in your hands—is possible. Imagine the day when you can walk into a room where a patient has been admitted for hypertension. You could potentially use voice commands to ask for most recent lab values and vital signs before issuing a medication, and then use voice commands to record your assessment. This is not that far into the future, because the technology is emerging rapidly and the possibilities are endless.

For more information, check out our new infographic, Wearables and the future of nursing.

-Danielle Miller, PHD(c), MSN, RNC-OB Chief Nursing Officer, Clinical Applications
  • Healthcare
  • EMEA
  • North America
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