The computer is a valuable tool in the healthcare setting, impacting the way nurses practice in the clinical and non-clinical setting. Checking patient identification and medications using bar codes, and entering data into a computer database are commonplace today. Does this move forward with technology actually create an environment which is more effective, efficient, and satisfying for the patient and the nurse? This paper will take a high level look at how technology and the computer impact the nurse, the benefits associated with advancing technology, and some responsibilities the nurse has in today’s increasingly technological arena.
Hebda and Czar (2009) note “The way that nurses and other healthcare providers work is changing for many reasons. There is a shift away from tasks to knowledge work and the demand for best practices. This change in clinical thinking is likely to continue its evolution” (p. 26). Pen and paper at the nurses’ station have been replaced by a computer in the patient’s room. By recording data immediately, the risk of errors from transcribing can be decreased. Utilizing bar code identification ensures that the right medication is given to the right patient. Utilizing technology in these ways has created a safer environment for patients as well as greater efficiency for the nurse.
Bar coding and immediate entry of data are not the only benefits of technology in the clinical setting. Other information system tools which promote safety and efficiency include: computerized physician order entry, decision-support software and e-prescribing (Hebda & Czar 2009, p. 23-25). Hebda and Czar also list the advantages of an information system as;
better access to information, enhanced quality of documentation through prompts, improved quality of client care, increased productivity, improved communications, reduced errors of omissions, reduced hospital costs, increased employee satisfaction, compliance with agency regulations, common clinical database, improved client perception of care, enhanced ability to track records, enhanced ability to recruit/retain staff, and improved hospital image (p. 139).
With the capture and housing of large amounts of data, benchmarking is accomplished much easier. “Benchmarking is the continual process of measuring services and practices against the toughest competitors in the healthcare industry” (Hebda & Czar, 2009, p. 179). Benchmarking and utilizing best practices contribute to positive patient outcomes and also creates a more efficient and effective atmosphere for the nurse, which in turn can promote greater nurse satisfaction.
Patient safety does not stop with the assurance of accurate data or best practices to facilitate positive outcomes. The security of patients’ privacy and confidentiality must be maintained. Along with basic computer skills, including the ability to use desktop software and disease databases, nurses should also be able to demonstrate information...