We recently highlighted just a few of the many innovations that have changed nursing over the last century. But in real time, right now, healthcare innovations are arising that will further alter the course of nursing's future. Some of these innovations are already changing how nurses do their jobs. And for some, the full potential of impact is still on the horizon. 1. Interoperability Although the development and implementation of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) revolutionized the healthcare industry, there's an even loftier goal afoot: to create a system where useful data can be communicated and exchanged from one system to another. Take the patient who's on vacation in Florida and comes to the ED for chest pain. What if the nurse can access a health record, view patient history, comorbidities, allergies and medications instantaneously? That is what the IT world calls interoperability. Although there are many challenges in implementing this kind of interoperable system, great efforts have been put forth to move towards that goal. Read more about the push for interoperability and the challenges being faced here. 2. 3D printing 3D printing is only beginning to demonstrate its clinical potential. Some of the uses currently being employed include:
- In the OR, where surgical teams can rehearse procedures specific to the patient before operating
- With the creation of prosthetic limbs
- Pioneering innovations in soft tissue and organ development
3. Real time locating systems Real time locating systems (RTLS) have the capability to reduce the amount of time nurses and other healthcare providers spend searching for equipment and supplies by making them easily trackable. 4. "Intelligent" medical devices Smart pumps are one thing. But the use of intelligent infusion systems is a whole new ballgame. Imagine a PCA pump that is dialed into capnography and respiration rates, noting respiratory depression in a patient in its earliest stages. The implications for patient safety would be notable. 5. Personal Health Records Patients are increasingly using tools called Personal Health Record (PHR). Much like the EHR, the PHR provides patients with access to certain portions of their medical records, such as diagnoses, diagnostic test results and communication with healthcare providers. Although research has yet to show just how far reaching the benefit of PHRs may be, programs such as the VA's Blue Button show promise in improved information sharing, the promotion of active patient participation, and the facilitation of nurse-patient follow-up.
These incredible innovations are merely a drop in the bucket. It will be interesting to see how the changes unfold a century from now. What other cutting edge changes are you seeing in your practice?