Technology That Helps Nurses Cut Down the Steps

nursing technologyA study commissioned by Herman Miller Healthcare showed that nurses walk up to four miles a day on their shift. Much of this is due to supplies not being readily available and the need for better communication, like keeping tabs patient location. Technology is beginning to make the job of the nurse easier by giving them better information, leading to less steps.

Real Time Locating Systems

Real Time Locating Systems, also known as RTLS, uses small tags attached to devices, making them easier to find. For example, a typical scenario finds the nurse walking from room to room to locate a blood pressure machine for use in their rounds. With an RTLS tag, the nurse can locate the machine on a dashboard at the nurses station. They may still have to walk to the end of the unit to retrieve the machine, but it will be a direct route.

Patient Locators

Similar to RTLS are devices that patients can wear to indicate their location, according to Villanova University. Tracking down a patient can be time consuming on a busy nursing unit. A nursing aid that has taken a patient to physical therapy and radiology calls up for the patient to come down for a test. The locator tags can prevent the hunting down of people who know where Mr. Johnson is by indicating that he is in PT.

Another use suggested for these locator tags is in monitoring patients who may wander out of their rooms and be difficult to track. Mental health units, neurology units and Alzheimer's treatment centers benefit from these devices.

Tools in Your Pocket

With smartphones and tablets, you can have a number of tools in your pocket to help you get through your day easier.

The Pocket Pharmacist is available for your iPhone, and gives you a drug reference list with interactions. Calculate by QxMD uses current clinical decision trees to determine the best course of treatment.

Other tools to help you with your nursing career include a wage calculator by Intuit to help you precisely calculate your time and paycheck amount, which is handy for those extra shifts and holiday hours you're asked to work. ShiftPlanning is a nursing shift scheduling tool that the charge nurse will find useful for tracking time and adjusting schedules.

Mobile Devices and EHR

Electronic Health Records (EHR) became mandatory as of January 1, 2014, notes USF Health. Institutions must begin making patient records available online. A study by American EHR on more than 800 health practitioners showed that 33 percent with access to EHR used a tablet to access patient information.

As tablets and mobile charts become more available on nursing units, the constant walking back and forth between patient and their information is reduced. Devices such as the iPad EHR by drChrono allow bedside status updates to be made once vitals and other observations are completed.

Patient Workflow

Nursing Critical Care highlights a software system used in a Pennsylvania hospital that helps save steps during a patient's discharge. When the patient is ready to be released, the nurse uses a workflow panel to contact the transportation department to pick up the patient. Once they have arrived and are leaving with the patient, they use the panel to contact the cleaning crew. Once the room is clean, they use the panel to contact the admitting patient, to tell them the room is ready. This keeps the nurse from walking to the room to see the status, so they can report back to admitting that the room is ready for the next patient.

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