New smartwatch could help nurses manage their workloads

A new smartwatch is under development that can monitor nurses’ well-being and stress levels to help manage their workloads.

Farzan Sasangohar, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University, is working on the project that will also give nursing unit managers a birds-eye view of the units they oversee, according to Texas A&M Today.

Although the work is still in the prototype phase, he told the publication that the end product would result in an intelligent system that collects and communicates information from nurses about their stress and work levels so colleagues will automatically know if they are available to take on another task.

“If you know the nurses are going through high periods of workload and that information is processed by our microsystem, the display would automatically show the do not disturb or do not interrupt message outside of the room they are working in ” Sasangohar said.

The technology is also being tweaked so nurse managers could look at the entire unit and adjust staffing levels when necessary. The research team is planning to pilot test the technology in 2017 with nurses in the ICU at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

If the pilot test proves successful, the technology could help combat the widespread problem of nurse burnout due to stress. A recent study found that between 25% and 33% of critical care nurses in the ICU had multiple symptoms of severe burnout, and 81% had at least one symptom.

"Everyone has a part to play in decreasing burnout syndrome,” Marc Moss, M.D., study co-author and co-chair of clinical research at the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said about those survey findings. “We can't take care of patients if we don't take care of each other.”