Why nurses must be involved in developing new health IT

Nurses are an essential part of the medical system and patient care--so why shouldn't they be more involved in developing new healthcare IT?

This question is explored in an article in Nursing Times, along with discussion on how attitudes toward nurses differ in the U.K. and the U.S., and how nurses can use technology to improve practice. Five key points made in the article include:

  1. In the U.K. and the U.S., nurse leaders must justify their requests for resources.

  2. The value of technology is determined by how it is used and whether it helps or hinders care.

  3. There is a general belief that nurses are "reluctant to accept change and "resent new technology."

  4. The U.S. and U.K. share similar goals for technology innovation, but differ when it comes to economics and delivery.

  5. Frontline staff often is not involved in the planning and implementation of health IT.

One example of how the perception that nurses are slow to adapt to technology is proved wrong is in nurses' work in neonatal or intensive care units, the article argues. Such a belief keeps technology system suppliers from understanding the practicalities of nursing care and how they can support innovation in everyday practice.

Organizations have tried adding new systems instead of integrating existing ones, and many have been implemented without considering whether they'd increase workloads, change practices or be acceptable to patients, the article argued. To that end, it said, it is important for nurses to respond to how hospitals and health systems speed up adoption of technology to support practice--and see technology as solutions for meeting needs.

"The profession has made progress towards dispelling the myth that nurses are slow to adopt technology," the article concluded. "With the help of nursing informatics experts, all nurse leaders must continue to actively debate the issues that will help us use technology to improve care and efficiency."

In one instance of successful technology implementation involving nurses, electronic monitoring helped to dramatically improve hand hygiene among nurses in Canada, according to research published in August in the journal Computers, Informatics, Nursing.

That same month, it was reported that home self-monitoring with the support of a remote care nurse is effective in empowering patients with chronic illness in their own healthcare, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

To learn more:
- read the article in Nursing Times