Cheryl Reinking, Chief Nursing Officer, El Camino Hospital
My inbox and voicemail is peppered daily with vendors sporting the latest and greatest technology with guarantees attached. This technology may be either software or the latest gadget. As a busy nurse executive, I am overwhelmed with the bombardment from these vendors. I am not technology averse; in fact, I believe technology has assisted caregivers in making significant improvements in healthcare delivery. My concern is the difficulty in having the time and ability to discern what new technology can truly make a difference for either improving patient outcomes or allowing our staff to practice more efficiently.
As I try to sift through the many contacts that come my way, I have two main goals. First, which product can truly make a difference for our patients? The main criteria I look for are those technologies which may have the potential to significantly improve patient engagement to impact our patient’s health outcomes or care experience. It has been difficult to find just the right tool to motivate all generations of patients to monitor their health outcomes. Consumerism is on the rise in monitoring health which is great, but how do we as caregivers even begin to recommend which “app” is the best. I think the consumers will tell us, frankly and we need to be listening.
"Presenting information to care givers that is actionable, but not annoying is highly important to get traction with front line staff"
Secondly, I am looking for ways in which our care givers can provide care much more efficiently and effectively. Presenting information to caregivers that is actionable, but not annoying is highly important to get traction with front line staff. This should be done through capitalizing on the system of record. Our frontline staff input massive amounts of data about our patients into the system of record, better known as, the Electronic Health Record, yet the benefit of that data is not realized at the front line level. Wouldn’t it be great if staff that input the data reap the benefits of having spent hours and hours entering? This should be done through sophisticated evaluation of the data using machine learning— pushing out nudges to staff that are predictive in nature that allow them to take action before a negative outcome occurs. Efficiency for caregivers also means having the data they need to care for patients at their fingertips at the time they need it. Caregivers are not static. They are on the go constantly and need a device that can be used for communication while at the same time can be used for data retrieval—all in an easy-to-read font! Since our nursing workforce is aging (average age is 47), honestly, caregivers do need an easyto-read device. The device also needs to be rugged and withstand drops and fluid exposure. It must have all of those attributes while being easy to clean as devices travel patient room to patient room and infection prevention is a key priority for healthcare organizations.
Technology needs to enable our work, make it easier for patients, their families as well as all caregivers. I haven’t seen the magic bullet yet, but I am hopeful!