Smart watches have made tracking personal fitness easier than ever. As the wearable technology industry advances, the possible applications abound. Watches and other monitoring devices stand to revolutionize the way we think about, and respond to, changes in our physical well-being.
Imagine the peace of mind that would come with knowing your care team could be updated with changes in your health before you knew anything was amiss. The internet of things is starting to make that possibility a reality by utilizing smart sensors and wearable technology — and the impact on nursing will be massive.
Remote monitoring utilizes smart sensors to record and transmit data about a patient’s status. Information collected may include diagnostic statistics such as blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature, and could also include movement tracking and metabolic fluctuations.
Collecting information remotely means that nurses no longer need to physically see patients as frequently and diminishes the amount of time spent on rote tasks. Because data can be collected and stored or transmitted to another device, it allows patients to be monitored internationally, making better healthcare more accessible around the globe. A single nurse’s impact can extend beyond one geographic location.
The internet of things allows nurses to be more engaged in patient care while simultaneously reducing the amount of time and energy required to care for each patient. Nurses will be facing a more technology-heavy role in their careers as the field continues to advance.
As less time is spent with each patient, “bedside manner” will become increasingly important. More communication will be provided electronically through apps or video calls, including care reminders to help promote a healthy lifestyle.
Nurses will need to be aware of how effective their communication is in accomplishing patient goals, and make sure that patients aren’t left feeling underserved in a digitally-dominated landscape.
Treatment Plan Adherence
Health data collected remotely will play an important role in measuring treatment plan adherence. Currently, one of the largest obstacles in healthcare is patient behavior; many patients receive a treatment plan and follow it for only a short period of time, and some never adhere to the plan at all, despite knowing it may have negative health consequences.
Nurses will no longer be reliant on patient self-reporting, which is often incomplete or falsified to make the patient appear more cooperative. Without the influence of narrative, medical decisions can be made more confidently and efficiently as influencing factors are based in recorded data.
Nurses will play a vital role in teaching patients how various smart sensors or other monitoring devices work in conjunction with their healthcare and why the increased technology is important and beneficial. Applications that interface with a health system’s software can provide reminders to patient when it’s time to take medication or exercise, or alert the patient’s care team if a patient misses doses or if there is an unexpected change in the patient’s physical condition.
Applications that interface with a health system’s software will allow nurses easier access to a patient’s progress and needs. Care providers are able to see and update patient records in real time based on information collected from wearable devices or other monitoring systems.
In an environment where patient information is shared among a team of practitioners, patients benefit by receiving a care plan that integrates multiple specialties. This reduces the amount of time a patient spends going in and out of offices, and streamlines the care of chronic or complicated diseases. Nurses will be better equipped to administer the best care when all the information is available in one cohesive and current patient record.
The Impact for Nurses
Once patients are monitored remotely, the focus of care will be able to redirect from reactive medicine to preventative medicine — again reducing the number of office visits needed and decreasing the cost for all parties. As the face of patient care changes, nurses will be required to adapt the way they approach their jobs. Significant updates in data collection, patient monitoring, and practitioner cooperation will require more training with technology and an emphasis on computer mediated communication. Updating the education system will certainly not be an easy road, but as patient care continues to improve, it will be worth it.