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Today’s nurses are at the center of care delivery. But nurses on average spend only about 31 percent of their time on direct patient care. The rest? Paperwork. Resource allocation. Information management. Workflow and communications issues. All the necessary work that can and must be done, but which puts extraordinary pressure on a nurse’s capabilities and time.

But the use of proven technology solutions can have a major impact on individual satisfaction, hospital operations and patient care. A new report for the California HealthCare Foundation, Equipped for Efficiency: Improving Nursing Care Through Technology, says emerging technologies like wireless communications, real-time location systems and even delivery robots can dramatically increase a nurse’s time with patients.
When nurses and their facilities take on their everyday challenges, and apply powerful tools to tackle them, a better work environment and better healthcare result, say the report authors.

The nurses consulted for the report mentioned numerous projects completed with the help of technology, said Fran Turisco, MBA, research principal at CSC, a consulting and systems integration company, and co-author of the report with Jared Rhoads, MS, senior research analyst at CSC.
“Nurses are asking, ‘Here’s a problem, now how can we use technology to redesign the care process and help us everyday?’” Turisco said. “These technologies are working in real hospitals and for real nurses, people who rolled up their sleeves, dug into a problem and put technology to use to make a big difference.”
The report details how hospitals across the country are using technology for practical solutions to persistent problems. This perspective is spreading to nurse administrators and nurses on the unit floor, as they are faced with shortages and increased patient demands.

“Nurses are constantly multitasking at the highest level,” said Linda Talley, RN, director of nursing systems at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Talley and her team used a patient monitor alarm system to enhance communications.

“We need to continue to push toward finding smart solutions that bring decision support to what we have. It’s tremendously challenging to triage and prioritize all the multiple tasks nurses are confronted with every day. Why not use the tools at hand to make nursing work more efficient, intuitive and user-friendly?”

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Adapted from “Advance for Nurses”, Copyright ©2009 Merion Publications