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Nursing roles have changed substantially in the past decade due to technological advances, and the NHS Five Year Forward View suggests there will be more developments within the health service in the near future.

Nursing roles have changed substantially in the past decade due to technological advances, and the NHS Five Year Forward View suggests there will be more developments within the health service in the near future.

Picture credit: Getty

While the health service has been a major beneficiary of developments in technology, many of the advances to date have been confined to streamlining clinical activity – for example, wearable monitors and improved recording equipment.

In recent years, equipment for community nurses has improved and patients can be cared for more readily in their own homes.

In Hertfordshire, the HomeFirst rapid response service has been running for the past year (see box). Such initiatives mean more nurses are operating away from the hospital environment and using technology such as tablets to improve their efficiency, mainly in the speed of their communications with patients and carers, the patient’s GP and other team members.

A rapid response service to maintain people at home who may otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

A venture between East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire County Council.

Staffed by health and social care professionals and made possible by rapid communication and improved home-based monitoring techniques.

While the new ways of working that accompany new technology can be challenging, eventually these initiatives will remove unnecessary processes and streamline nurses’ working day.

These developments extend to patients, and websites such as Web MD and Wikipedia mean the public is considerably more educated about health and wellbeing than in the past.

However, better informed patients can be a source of tension. As a result, nurses are having to develop a range of softer communication skills to manage patients’ expectations.

According to the NHS Confederation, the average internet user spends 14.2 hours each week online while 91 per cent of UK adults use a mobile phone. This suggests that there is room to capitalise on social media and other forms of mobile technology to transform health care for patients and professionals alike. In mental health services, for example, social media is recognised as a beneficial tool for supporting isolated people or those experiencing anxiety or depression.

Social media can help nurses ensure patients are constantly at the centre of care planning and care itself. But to instil confidence in their patients, nurses need to be assertive users of these technologies. Many nurses will be comfortable using these platforms, while others will need to bolster their skills to meet the demands of a modern health service.

It is difficult to predict future technological developments, but we do know that the health service is already changing radically and rapidly, and nurses in all areas need to be prepared to meet the resulting demands for better communication, rapid treatment and efficient working practices.

Most future developments will require improved technological understanding, but these same developments will also require professionals to consider new methods of communication and interaction that emphasise their partnership with patients.


Further information

HomeFirst

Web MD

RCN links to eHealth resources

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