Practice Tip of the Week: Technology Update
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
By Ellen Martin, PhD, RN, CPHQ
Director of Practice
Texas Nurses Association
In the next several weeks people all over the U.S. will make health-related holiday purchases, followed by New Year’s resolutions. Health apps now have a total of 3.2 billion downloads according to a 2016 digital e-commerce industry report. Technology is widely used for health promotion including training, tracking, and social support.
In addition to this personal health revolution, technology is addressing major health problems from a shortage of organs for transplant through 3D printing of organs to the use of precision health to prevent disease instead of curing disease after the fact. Other technologies such as insulin pumps have been in use for decades and are continually being improved with smart technology.
Technology can support aging in place. AARP reports on technologies that may extend a person’s ability to live independently at home, such as emergency response systems such as Life Alert. Automated pill dispensers increase medication adherence and has been researched in conjunction with health monitoring interventions via telehealth. Other researchers are using embedded in-home sensors to test alerts that indicate early changes in health status.
Technology that eases suffering
New uses of technology are decreasing symptom burden in chronic illness. Medscape recently reported on research using avatars to decrease auditory hallucinations in persons with schizophrenia who are receiving usual treatment. (Free registration required to access article)
Sandra Petersen, DNP, APRN, FNP/GNP-BC, PMHNP at the UT Tyler School of Nursing is exploring the effectiveness of robotic pets to ease cognitive symptoms in persons with dementia using Paro, an interactive robotic cuddly baby seal.
Biofeedback has been used for many years and now incorporates new technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Applications include using visual images to allow patients to focus on decreasing pain severity.
Technology to address staffing concerns
There are many emerging technologies to address nurse staffing. Sophisticated software that uses electronic health record data to inform acuity based staffing systems allow hospitals to adjust staffing real-time and forecast staffing needs based on historical data. New applications, such as MedTempNow allow nurses to connect directly with healthcare organizations with urgent staffing needs.
These are just a few of the newest technologies in the news. What else have you seen? Leave a comment!