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Will wearables transform the healthcare workplace?

February 8, 2018

Infor HRx blog—a prescription for healthcare people-related challenges

With many healthcare organizations serving as provider, employer and payer, those of us working in the industry are always looking for ways to balance efficiency, engagement and outcomes.

I have been exploring and blogging about the realm of wearable technology, and how it can help sustain and retain healthcare workers. We know the ability for employees—especially care providers who have a physically demanding job—to excel at their jobs depends on them physically feeling their best. That’s why I think we need to look at the advent of fitness trackers, smart watches and even our ever-present, GPS-enabled, smartphones, and how they can help improve the nursing experience.

The concept is not entirely new, and even the American Nursing Association is weighing in with ideas such as how we could use wearable devices to send alerts to a nurse’s watch when a patient’s temperature spikes, or reminders to administer medications. However, putting wearables into practice still poses a lot of questions and, I like to think, unrealized possibilities.

With the advent of the flexible workplace, including the gig economy, employers can use wearables to better track everything from home health nurse routes to steps taken during a shift. That doesn’t mean some Big Brother proposal to give employers assurances employees are where they should be. In fact, the technology likely would benefit nurses more than employers. How? First, the ability to track mileage without filling out paperwork reduces home health nurse administration work. It also helps identify inefficient routing and wasted time.

In addition, a fitness tracker can track nurses’ heart rates, sleep patterns and even nutrition. Using carefully curated data through sophisticated analytic platforms, for example, healthcare organizations could harness this data to explore areas where nurse satisfaction and health may affect safety. If we can find out which units have the fewest patient falls, we can then learn to apply their processes throughout the entire hospital. What hard data exists to make sure we can replicate that across the hospital? For patients, of course, that means identifying risks before incidents happen.

The issue of privacy always comes up when we talk about employee tracking and data gathering. And while I think we always need to keep privacy in mind, I think if we use it as an excuse to avoid new ideas, we risk not realizing the potential for our nurses, patients and organizations. Do you agree? I’d love to hear from you.

To learn more, view our infographic that illustrates how wearables are being used to transform the workplace.

Marcus Mossberger, Human Capital Management Director, Infor Healthcare

  • Healthcare
  • EMEA
  • North America
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