Nursing in the Digital Age

Nurse using technology | Doylestown Health

Now, more than ever, the superhero status of our healthcare workers is top-of-mind. May is National Nurses Month, but we don’t need an excuse to applaud our nurses. We have seen how they’ve adapted to new COVID protocols and weathered the emotional pandemic rollercoaster. They have remained dedicated to their mission — despite the stress, hours, and risk to their own well-being.

Celebrating Nurses Month throughout Doylestown Health each year with a week of festivities is only a small token of our great appreciation. This blog is also in appreciation, highlighting one of the many expectations of nursing today — digital proficiency.

The Digital Transformation

Our nurses have always demonstrated their adaptability. They stay current on the latest standards of care. And they have ridden the wave of the digital transformation, adopting newer technologies in the service of our patients.

“Over the last two decades, we have taken nursing fully electronic at the hospital,” says Director of Applications Lynn Miller, RN, BSN. Accordingly, nurses today must be tech literate. And hospital MIS departments have evolved to take advantage of the new, digital possibilities.

Recalls Jessica Morrison RN, BSN, who started at Doylestown Hospital on the medical-surgical floor 20 years ago, “Everything was paper back then.” As technology advanced, Jessica began to serve on teams addressing the digitalization of patient records.

More and more capabilities came online, and the hospital created positions for professionals with clinical degrees to support clinical technology needs. After nine years as a floor nurse, Jessica transitioned to Clinical Systems Analyst. She misses patient care; but she enjoys using her background to help providers incorporate technology into their care.

The Tech Toolkit

Kim Carson, MSN, RN, is our Nursing Education Coordinator. Part of her role includes coordinating and implementing nursing education on new clinical processes. With a perspective of 40 years as an RN, Kim sees the rapid growth of technology as a vital tool for nursing practice.

"Our nurses use technology in so many ways," says Kim. She cites examples such as:

  1. Electronic Medical Records, allowing for electronic documentation of patient assessment and care
  2. Computerized Provider Order Entry, eliminating the need to decipher handwriting for medical orders
  3. Barcoding to ensure that each patient is correctly matched with their own specimens, tests, and treatments
  4. Barcoded Medication Administration, electronically verifying the right patient, dose, drug, time, and method of administration
  5. Automated Dispensing Cabinets, improving medication inventory management, security, and accuracy
  6. Smart IV pumps with an electronic drug reference library
  7. Automated alarms and alerts
  8. Tiger Text, a method of secure communication with providers across specialties
  9. Remote video monitoring for patient safety

Technology is a crucial partner in ensuring excellent patient outcomes. Kim explains that these capabilities reduce the risk of medication and lab errors and improve interdisciplinary communication, giving all providers access to patient medical information.

Lynn Miller adds that, "in addition to patient safety, our electronic systems also improve data collection and reporting. This informs the care across the health system and keeps us in compliance with state reporting requirements."

Keeping Up With Technology

Our nurses undergo technology training on a regular basis. "It seems like there is a new piece of equipment, an update to existing equipment, and documentation changes at least every week," remarks Kim. In the era of COVID, nurses have also had to adopt vaccination documentation procedures.

Some of the process and reporting changes are initiated by nurses. They provide feedback on how to improve documentation screens and provider orders to accommodate new healthcare practices. We have a Nursing Process Development Committee that captures this feedback and works with MIS on system improvements.

As Clinical Systems Analysts, Jessica and her colleagues implement every software upgrade and customize the documentation, ordering process, and systems to meet the requirements of clinical care at Doylestown Health. "We try to minimize the burden of documentation on our clinicians," she says. "We want them back at the bedside. So we streamline the technology wherever possible."

"Multiple technology disciplines at Doylestown Health work together with nursing to understand the requirements and needs for nursing," explains Lynn.

"It's a team effort," echoes Jessica. "In addition to my group, we have extensive hardware, software, and network support to keep vital systems running — and specialists keeping our patient data secure across the health system."

While technology has improved healthcare outcomes, it does require clinicians to add a level of tech savviness to their skillsets. At Doylestown Health, we provide ongoing training, remaining very conscious of the fact that our electronic systems help the process but are not the process.

"We are so grateful for the training and experience of our nurses," says Jessica. "Their clinical education, knowledge, and critical thinking skills are most important. The tech just supports it."

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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