Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Over the past decade, we've witnessed remarkable changes in the accuracy, consistency, and use of data and information technology (IT)—changing our lives at lightning speed. Each day our methods of gaining information are rapidly morphing, which keep most of us shell shocked and intimidated. It appears as though each time we turn on our computers to complete our next assignment, we're forced to learn new ways to do our work. To what level will technology take us? How will our work, the way we think, and the manner in which we operate change over the next generation? How will technologic advances affect how we manage our team members and the care we deliver to our patients?
Recently, we lost one of the greatest IT innovators who ever lived, Steve Jobs. Because of his ability to be innovative and develop a spirit of camaraderie within his team, as well as with his competitors, he was able to define the future direction of data gathering and information analysis. Through his leadership, he incorporated high-speed technology because he dared to dream and simultaneously motivate others to reach far beyond their boundaries to achieve great results.
Nurse leaders will need to employ many of these same principles over the next decade to ensure that we move quickly and stay ahead of the technologic curve. It's vitally important that we're collectively motivating others to help create new innovations and practices in the interest of improving patient care. We must ensure that we have the right tools readily available to rapidly evaluate and implement strategies aimed at improving care throughout all of our practice settings.
It's been well established that a significant amount of the care we provide to our patients is based on the use of traditional methods. Very little of what we do has been based on a true evaluation of evidence. The reason for this gap is that we haven't effectively built an infrastructure to support the rapid implementation of the newest information into our care delivery models. The significant advances in technology will help us change this practice at an unbelievable pace if we accept it and take the time to expend the energy to learn new technologies.
One of our major stumbling blocks in quickly improving the care delivered to our patients is the lack of infrastructure necessary to easily transmit vital patient information from one setting to another throughout the continuum of care. We often treat each healthcare interaction as an independent incident, which reduces the likelihood that we can easily convey a complete health story over a period of time. To be able to effectively compete and drive healthcare delivery in this new era of advanced technology, nurse leaders must be at the forefront of using technology and embracing many pieces of information to create a complete picture of our patients' needs.
The consumer will be the catalyst who will ensure that providers maximize the use of technology in all aspects of care delivery. The use of computer applications that will allow patients to actively participate in their care decisions will dictate the methodology by which we care for patients in the future. It will become the norm to provide patients with specific applications at the bedside that will allow them to be active participants in their care delivery treatments and options.
Embracing the use of technology is the key to the future and will strongly impact our profession and the significant contributions we'll make to it. Ready or not? Here it comes...
© 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.