Healthcare inflation is on ice for the first time in years. Technology may well be the answer to keeping healthcare inflation under control permanently. Despite the fact that nursing has come late to the party, the future of the nursing industry is technology. The baby boomers will soon be exiting en masse and opening the door to a generation of young RN graduates who view technology not as something new, but as an extension of themselves.
While I don’t think robots will replace RNs (yet), I do believe RNs will soon be wearing their work at work. Wired magazine claims that wearable tech will be bigger than the smartphone and I agree – not that you’ll catch me wearing a computer on my head (my hair is challenging enough already) or a Dick Tracy-style watch on my wrist.
Nursing care is data driven. We already see nurses walking around with Bluetooth® headsets screwed into their ears all day. But, new technology in nursing will take us beyond looking at that Dick Tracy watch to read texts, email and alerts or scanning patient data on a tablet (like in Star Trek®). Heads-up displays (like in car dashboards and jet fighters) and those that are manipulable like in the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report) are coming to nursing. Google® Glass (with its 50-year-old technology) was just the starting point, or as I like to call it, the nose of the camel.
Augmented reality will soon pervade the healthcare setting. Imagine an RN being able to visually scan her unit and the patients for vital signs. The nursing station will become virtual and that means no place left for RNs to sit except the restroom – oops I forgot, RNs don’t sit they squat.
What’s the fallout for the RN at the bedside? I predict there will be future reductions in staffing and delegation as money pours into technology. The future of nursing may involve more LVNs and medical assistants. But in the future when the EMR charts itself and alerts healthcare providers to necessary interventions we’ll also need more educated, bright and intelligent RNs with higher skillsets and the technical know-how to manage the data and devices.
Technology may help keep inflation on ice, but will there be a cost to the quality of care or an improvement in care as humans are increasingly taken out of the healthcare delivery equation? As we move forward, questions and uses of new technology will pervade the nursing industry and therefore your business as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. You will be assessing exciting stuff like what an augmented RN should have known, seen and done while doing her job. Was the doctor texting, talking or checking email during surgery?
The future is rapidly becoming the present. It’s time to start thinking forward and laterally at the same time.
I’m Just Sayin’
P.S. Comment and share your opinions on how technology will affect the future of the nursing industry.