‘Equip all district nurses with digital technology’, RCN Scotland urges

The RCN is calling on the Scottish government to make equipping district nursing teams with mobile devices and apps ‘a priority at all levels’.

The RCN is calling on the Scottish Government to ‘urgently’ invest in digital technology for district nurses to boost patient care.

Picture: Alamy

In a new report, RCN Scotland says the government should provide funding for phones and tablets, develop apps to aid learning and development, and involve nurses in decision making on technology as a matter of priority.

The report, Enhanced Care in the Palm of Their Hand: Developing Mobile Technologies for Scotland’s District Nursing Teams, is published as the government prepares to consult on its own Digital Health and Social Care Strategy 2017-22 in the autumn.

The RCN says the government’s investment in, and implementation of, digital technologies for district nursing has been ‘slow and patchy’ to date.

As part of its report, the RCN interviewed academics, and district nurses and community nursing managers employed by seven health boards, in late 2016.

The college says everyone it interviewed recognised that mobile technologies for district nursing teams could boost efficiency, improve quality of care and ensure a safer service.

Recording care

The report also cites a 2014 study by the Queen’s Nursing Institute that shows only 26% of UK district nurses reported using digital technology to record patient care in their homes.

‘District nurses and their teams are a key workforce for delivering safe, high quality care in the community and ensuring people achieve the best possible health outcomes,’ the report states.

‘Mobile technologies can support these teams to access the right information, in a timely way, to support high quality and person centred care.

‘However, despite the Scottish government’s strategic focus on digital technologies, and the number of policy levers designed to work to enable a digital health and social care system, on-the-ground investment and implementation of digital technologies for district nursing has been slow and patchy.’

The report comes a year after the RCN made a commitment to campaign for every nurse to become an e-nurse by 2020.

Writing in the report’s foreword, RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe says: ‘Up-to-date technological solutions are now essential for the delivery of high quality, well-integrated care.

‘This report makes clear the urgent need for investment in, and systematic implementation of, mobile technologies for district nursing teams.’

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