Twenty-one years ago, as a Registered Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU), I had the ability to document in the electronic health record (EHR) on a mobile handheld device. I had to dock this device to transmit to the EHR, but no less, I thought we were high tech. I didn’t have a cell phone at that time and barely had my own personal email account. Fast forward to today and how many of our nurses are given a mobile hand-held smartphone when they come on their shift.
Have we provided handheld devices to our clinical staff to improve their efficiencies? In some organizations, yes, is it a standard, no. I hear from nursing staff that they feel like they are in the electronic health record (EHR) all the time. Would it feel less daunting if they had a hand-held mobile device that they could use in multiple situations. What if they could choose a tablet to pick up when that felt like the right device in that situation. If they needed to sit and utilize a larger screen and more focused time, then a desktop would be available. I predict we will see more drawn to the hand-held mobile device and a decrease in the number of desktops needed.
What barriers keep the medical industry from moving forward with multiple options for our clinical staff? Is it cost, is it supportability, or are the applications not supported on all of these options. No matter the reason, it’s time to give our clinical staff, who are caring for our patients/customers multiple choices. What works for a millennial may be different for a Baby Boomer. Consumers in every other industry have driven companies to provide access on all device types.
Improving the efficiency and information at the point of care for the clinical staff would lead to improving patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. Is the time here where staff and consumer of a healthcare organization start shopping for who has the best technology? Nurses are starting to ask what technology is available prior to decision making. We are all connected in real time with our smartphones and our possibilities are endless on the functionality. Shouldn’t nurses be given the same opportunity. Let me give you a couple of examples if the patient in a hospital bed pushes their nurse call button, would you prefer to talk to a unit clerk who then has to find the nurse and ask them to send your nurse to patient A in room 324. Imagine the patient pushes the same nurse call button and it goes directly to the nurse’s smartphone and you can speak directly to your nurse. If the patient is having pain, they nurse could assess the need for pain medication or a pain alternative and gather that prior to going to the patient’s room. The nurses have decreased their steps and are able to provide for the patient much quicker.
The whole clinical team could receive real-time alerts to their phones. An example is a critical lab result is sent to the clinical team without having to be in the EHR. Once again, this could decrease the time needed to act on the result they have been sent. No, I did not have all this capability in the late 90’s, but we have come a long way and it’s time to now combine multiple device options, applications, and technology to give our clinical staff the devices and functionality they need to be efficient and improve job satisfaction and clinical outcomes. If you don’t have these options it’s time to speak out to your CIO/CNIO and ask why not.