Management Resource Institute.
Curse: English Composition
Instructor: Sonia Pinock
While myriad forces are changing the face of contemporary healthcare, one could argue that nothing will change the way nursing is practiced more than current advances in technology. Technology is changing the world at warp speed and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare settings. This article identifies seven emerging technologies that will change the practice of nursing; three skill sets nurses will need to develop to acquire, use, and integrate these emerging technologies; and four challenges nurse leaders will face in integrating this new technology.
Keywords: Change, future, technology, genetics, genomics, Human Genome, 3-D printing, robotics, nanomedicine, nanotechnology, biomechatronics.
There are many emerging technologies that will change the practice of nursing in the coming decade. Seven are discussed here; genetics and genomics; less invasive and more accurate tools for diagnosis and treatment; 3-D printing; robotics; biometrics; electronic health records; and computerized physician/provider order entry and clinical decision support. Some examples of this are the following ones:
Biometrics: Electronic capture and analysis of biological characteristics—e.g., fingerprints, facial structure or iris—acting as a security alternative to passwords. The healthcare environment will also continue to be rapidly transformed by new technology as a result of the need to provide confidentiality and security of patient data, i.e., to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) calls for a tiered approach to data access in which staff members have access to only the information that they need to know to perform their jobs. To that end, developers of new technology must assure that access is both targeted and appropriate. Biometrics, or the science of identifying people through physical characteristics such as fingerprints, handprints, retinal scans, palm vein prints, voice recognition, facial structure, and dynamic signatures, is often suggested as a solution to the information access problem. Experts suggest that biometric signatures will become common place in most healthcare organizations since they will provide the needed security for medical records. Fingerprint biometrics is still the most common type of biometrics in healthcare, primarily because of its ease of use, small size, and affordable price. Detection of facial geometry through facial landmarks such as approach angles; eyebrow and mouth contours; skin texture analysis; and hairstyles, however, is also beginning to make inroads into healthcare as a biometric measure. Less invasive and more accurate tools for diagnostics and treatment will also change nursing practice in the future. For example, heart disease is likely to be diagnosed by a new blood test that eliminates the need for risky diagnostic angiograms. A new 23-gene blood test checks for certain blood proteins linked to heart disease. In a recent trial, the blood test was 85% accurate in detecting potentially harmful blockages among patients.
Magnets are also increasingly likely to be used as a treatment for major depression. Cleared by the FDA in 2008, small electromagnets are now placed on the scalp behind the left forehead as a therapeutic intervention for depression. These magnets deliver a tiny electric current to the part of the brain linked to depression. It seems to work, although the mechanism for action is not fully understood. In fact, a large study found these magnets were three times more effective than a placebo and most importantly, they had no serious side effects.
Scanning technology is predicted to improve to the point that images of soft and hard tissues in the body will be so clear that exploratory surgery and invasive procedures will virtually be eliminated within a few