Technology has an enormous impact on how RNs practise and deliver health care.
Technology has led to advancements in diagnostics and treatment and has increased the flow of information. RNs are using mobile devices to access clinical information on the spot. Social media tools enable nurses to share innovations and experiences with others in their specialty.
When it comes to using technology and social media, patients are leading the way. Rob Fraser, RN, author and member of CNA’s independent National Expert Commission, says “nurses and physicians need to understand these tools to stay relevant and to keep up with patients and the pace of change outside the health-care system.”
One recent U.S. study revealed that about 80 per cent of adults use online media to get health-care information, and 15 per cent use their cellphones. At our YMCA-Commission consultation in Toronto, a Grade 11 student told us she gets all her health information from CNN’s health Twitter feed. That’s the reality of the world in which RNs want to influence health.
Online tools that allow patients to upload health information, connect with others and track their blood pressure (as just a few examples) are popular in part because they help individuals feel empowered about their health.
And technology is opening the doors for virtual health-care delivery. Receiving care through the phone or more complex innovations, like robot-assisted telesurgery, means patients won’t always have to travel to see a health-care provider.
With its potential to transform health-care delivery and make the system more efficient, technology is an important focus of the National Expert Commission.
Michael J. Villeneuve, RN, M.Sc.
This column originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Canadian Nurse. Reproduced with the permission of the Canadian Nurses Association.