An increase on patient safety issues, higher healthcare costs and labor shortages are driving hospitals to use more information technology at the point of care; however, some devices and technology are more cumbersome than helpful, according to a new study of nurses and their bedside treatment practices.
The Point of Care Computing for Nursing study, conducted by Spyglass Consulting Group, shows that healthcare facilities are making "significant investments" in clinical information systems so that nurses and other practitioners can access patient information near or at the point of care. Nurses are using fixed or mobile devices to search different applications that help them treat their patients, according to the report.
Spyglass spent four months interviewing more than 100 nurses across the healthcare fields for its study. It found that 86% of acute-care nurses and 94% of home health nurses interviewed are using devices to access reference materialsincluding drug databases, manuals and medical calculatorsand make informed patient decisions.
While nurses spend nearly half their time documenting their treatments, 78% of nurses record their care at the patient's bedside through IT applications, in efforts to cut down on first writing the information on paper and then transferring it to electronic reports, according to the study. Another timesaver has been the use of automated products to capture vital signs data for high-acuity patients, immediately present it for nursing review and automatically upload it to the patients electronic record, with 36% of nurses adopting this practice.
Bar coding also has helped nurses reduce medical errors. More than half the nurses interviewed53%said that they use devices to ensure positive patient identification, medication administration, blood transfusion verification and laboratory specimen collection, according to the report.
Nurses are spending time on the Internet as well to stay up-to-date on nursing trends and new treatments, according to the report. "Nurses discovering online nursing communities and resources enabling them to communicate and collaborate with colleagues more effectively," Spyglass said in its report.
While nurses seem ready to embrace point-of-care technology, they also say devices currently available are cumbersome and difficult to move with, and networks are unreliable, according to the report.
"Point-of-care solutions need to evolve to provide higher levels of synchronization and integration of hardware, software and infrastructure to streamline nursing workflow process and improve communications amongst care team members," Spyglass said.
Content for Point of Care Computing for Nursing was derived from more than 100 interviews with nurses working in acute-care and ambulatory environments nationwide. Spyglass conducted the telephone interviews over a four-month period beginning April 2007.
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