Nursing in the digital age

P. Michelle Wyatt, DNP, IQCI, CPHM, Director of Clinical Best Practices at XSOLIS - Print  | 

As our world changes, so does the world of healthcare.

Throughout the past decades, years, months and days, healthcare delivery has adapted and transformed to accommodate changing technology and changing needs. For those who provide care, this transition may be welcome or it may very well be intimidating – nearly gone are the days of handwritten notes and prescription pads, here to stay are the days of screens and software. While technology-driven change may appear slower in healthcare than in other sectors, the positive impact of technology in healthcare extends to lives saved and patients treated. As nurses, our ability to positively impact people daily is unmatched; therefore, the need for us to be savvy both clinically and technologically is vital.

As we move beyond traditional approaches to care, many of the skills needed for success in this digital age haven’t been part of nurses’ training curriculum. From typing to telemedicine, we must be willing to adapt, learn and grow. The new healthcare paradigm demands our commitment to be the best caregivers we can be – even if it means testing ourselves and expanding our comfort zones. While our clinical expertise and judgement sets the foundation for our work, our ability as caregivers depends in large part on our willingness and capacity for working within the systems and technology – electronic medical records, documentation, to name a few – that our institutions utilize.

Unfamiliar and “user unfriendly” technology often has a dark side if adequate training isn’t available or if the technology itself isn’t intuitive. These challenges can compound the effects of overwork during already hectic schedules and can cause additional anxiety for those who are expected to perform the jobs they know well with tools that are ill-suited to support them. Nurses must take an active stance in educating themselves and becoming familiar with new expectations, opportunities and tools at their disposal – however, they must also be willing to speak up if they aren’t being trained appropriately or aren’t being offered what they need to succeed.

For those in leadership positions, it is crucial to take deliberate steps to equip your staff with the skills, confidence and technology that will enable them to thrive. For me, this always comes down to relationships; by being a coach and a mentor to each individual nurse I serve, I can help them overcome their struggles in a 1:1 setting and keep an open dialogue on what they’re facing. As a leader, it’s your privilege and duty to guide your team and help them cope with the hurdles they face – technological or otherwise. While we’re so used to giving high touch care to patients, we often forget about the care we can provide to the people we work with day in and day out. Forming personal relationships in the digital age has become harder in many ways, yet I see it as even more rewarding. By taking each of your team aside and learning their strengths and weaknesses, you are better able to tailor education and mentoring to meet them where they are and propel them forward. We must use technology to unite and empower us, not divide us and hinder us.

Nurse leaders’ primary goal is ensuring that the patients entering your facility receive the best possible care – without an engaged and empowered care team, that objective won’t be a reality. With our nurses being asked to perform daily in the digital age, we must ask ourselves the tough question: “what am I doing to relieve the frustrations, the disparities, the anxieties that keep my nurses from doing their best work, day after day?”

As a crucial part of the healthcare system, it is incumbent for the nurses of today to set a strong foundation for the nurses of the future. By being adaptive, flexible and open to change, we will be able to provide the best care for our patients and set the stage for a brighter tomorrow.

About Michelle
Michelle serves as Director of Clinical Best Practices at XSOLIS, where she’s responsible for clinical implementation of new clients and support of the XSOLIS client engagement team. She previously worked for Hospital Corporations of America as Director of Case Management, Utilization Review. She graduated summa cum laude from Union University with a Master of Science in Nursing and earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Vanderbilt University. Michelle lives her motto daily through her passion for healthcare and her advocacy for patients: “Be thankful for who and what you are now and keep FIGHTING for what you want to be.”

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