Rage Against the Machines

Jeanne Venella
JULY 12, 2018
digital health nurse,digital transformation nurse,healthcare disruption,healthcare analytics news

Finding Balance

The relationship between technology innovations and human-centered interactions isn’t a zero-sum game, but it does require a sense of proportion. Here are some practical ways healthcare’s stakeholders can ensure that the human-connection is not lost in patient care.

Make Technology Human-Centered. Health systems should obviously look to solutions that solve a problem. But is that enough? The right technology solution will also promote ease of use and a clinical workflow that maximize face-time with patients.

Take this issue of alarm management. Nursing staff are charged with the proper setting of the alarms and the prompt response when any of the devices send an alert. As the presence of alarm equipment continues to grow, nurses find their workflow and ability to engage with patients disrupted as they chase down hundreds of alarms, most of which require no intervention with the patient. Smart alarm technology identifies clinically actionable events and significantly reducing the overall number of alarms without increasing risks to patients.

Find the Right Vendor Partner. Health IT implementations can be expensive, complex, involve dozens of stakeholders and are often up against aggressive deadlines. Technology can also be disruptive and bring new uncertainties to the entire organization. However, the quality of the relationship with the vendor supplying the solution can make a huge difference.

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Any hospital or health system has business and clinical needs and cultures that make them different from other organizations. A partner with deep knowledge of the unique aspects of your organization not only will help you avoid common mistakes, but also keep you focused on detailed integration points and workflows. An excellent vendor also acts as a consultant and educator, making hospital staff comfortable with new technology and uncovering strategies for optimizing workflow.

The importance of evaluating the vendor as much as the product they are delivering cannot be stressed enough. Vendors that lack expertise, training capabilities, and clear steps toward go-live and beyond are critical red flags.

Take a Team-Approach to IT. It’s easy to consider a new hardware or software solution and imagine its transformative potential. Healthcare tradeshows brim with thousands of devices, enterprise systems, and software applications marketed as painless solutions for any clinical challenge facing a hospital or care unit. But a poorly implemented system that did not evaluate the impact to the clinical workflow can just as easily exacerbate inefficiencies and reduce the overall quality of patient care.

Involving direct-care staff is critical to the success of any new technology. How will this new technology impact how nurses deliver patient care? What adjustments in workflow and practice need to be made—at go-live and beyond? Starting with these questions fosters buy-in from the staff who will be utilizing this equipment.

Hospitals should incorporate clinical workflow as quickly and as early as possible in the process. Designating a nursing champion—or super-user—at the outset allows other nurses and direct-care clinical staff to receive information, training, and support during all phases of adoption.

Richard Hader, RN, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, wrote: “It’s imperative that we use… technology to enhance human interactions, not deteriorate them. Many of us have witnessed clinical situations in which patients experienced fatal events—even though all of their ‘numbers’ fell within the normal limits. Vigilance will allow us to use technology as a supplement to care, not a substitute for it.”

Human touch is and always will be the hallmark of nursing. The technological explosion in nursing is inevitable. While onboarding technology in nursing practice, it is very important that we consider how this impacts nurses’ workflow and then the nurse–patient relationships. We cannot lose touch.

The key to preserving human-centered care in the digital age is to make humans the center of all care processes.

Jeanne Venella, DNP, MS, RN, CEN, CPEN, is Chief Nursing Officer at of Bernoulli, a leader in real-time connected healthcare. She can be reached at jvenella@bernoullihealth.com.

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