There is no doubt that the use of technology is increasing all around us. The health care field is no different. Technology now plays a major role in the health care profession. It is almost guaranteed to continue to develop at a rapid rate (Horn, 2017). From electronic heath records to patient portals, I have utilized technology since becoming a nurse, increasing significantly over the last decade. However, at my most current place of employment, we do not use much technology at all. In fact, much of technology is prohibited as I work in a prison. After relying on technology so heavily, it has been a major adjustment to return to the era of very limited technology use. In fact, the only technology we utilize is telehealth.
Telehealth is the “delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interest of advancing the health of individuals and their communities” (Koivunen, & Saranto, 2018). This method of health care delivery is seen as a means in which to improve communication and enhance patient-centered care (Cipriano, 2011; Virji, Yarnall, Krause, Pollak, Scannell, Gradison, & Ostbye, 2006). As with all technology, there are both facilitators and barriers present with the use of telehealth.
According to the study conducted by Koivunen & Saranto (2018), nurses’ skills in telehealth application were seen as a facilitator to telehealth utilization. However, the same study identified some barriers present. Some of those barriers included nursing’s discomfort with the equipment utilized with telehealth as well as lack of basic computer skills present amongst nurses (Koivunen, & Saranto, 2018). In addition, negative attitudes along with lack of support and training were identified barriers (Koivunen, & Saranto, 2018). It is obvious that the change from traditional face-to-face nursing practice to telehealth requires much support for its users. There is certainly a learning curve with any new technology with experience and attitudes playing a major role in the successful implementation. However, if the proper steps are taken, telehealth can be a cost-effective way to address health care needs and has been shown to improve clinical indicators (Shulver, Killington, & Crotty, 2016).
In addition to the barriers present, there is also negative attitudes by some clinicians in regards to telehealth. While some health care providers believe that telehealth could offer enhanced and expanded services to many, other clinicians voiced reservations about the potential safety and suitability of this service (Shulver et al., 2016). However, in the case of rural patients, many can agree that a service is better than no service. According to Shulver et al. (2016), clinicians agreed that any perceived risks associated with telehealth could be alleviated by having a person “on the ground” with the patient during telehealth conferences. This is exactly how telehealth is utilized at my current place of employment. The inmates are seen by a distance provider as the nurse remains in the room with the patient to perform any assessments requested and provide information from records as needed.
Telehealth is only one of many promising trends in health care that offer many benefits. Other up-and-coming health technology trends include artificial intelligence, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), blockchains, and virtual/augmented reality. These trends have many benefits to offer. For example, artificial intelligence is now capable of diagnosing skin cancer more accurately and more efficiently than a board-certified dermatologist (Rigby, 2019). But, as previously mentioned, all technology can bring added risks. Such use of technology has the potential to threaten patient safety, preference, and privacy (Rigby, 2019). Informed consent remains of utmost importance, as with any medical procedure, when utilizing technology in providing health care to patients. All the risks associated with the technology must remain transparent to the patient.
Technology has already advanced quickly all around us and its use in health care is no exception. By utilizing technology, the practice of medicine is revolutionized, transforming the patients’ experiences and the providers’ daily routines. These up-and-coming health care trends are aimed at preventative care while enhancing patient experiences, lowered expenses, and big data processing. Cutting-edge technology is being utilized by many providers to assist their patients. We can only expect the current trend to continue with more amazing discoveries to come.
Cipriano P. (2011). The future of nursing and health IT: the quality elixir. Nursing Economics, 29(5), 286–90. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221868226_The_Future_of_Nursing_and_Health_IT_The_Quality_Elixir
Horn, H. (2017). Predicting the Future of Healthcare Technology. Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, 51(3), 203. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.2345/0899-8205-51.3.203
Koivunen, M., & Saranto, K. (2018). Nursing professionals’ experiences of the facilitators and barriers to the use of telehealth applications: a systematic review of qualitative studies. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 32(1), 24–44. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1111/scs.12445
Rigby, M.J. (2019). Ethical Dimensions of Using Artificial Intelligence in Health Care. AMA Journal of Ethics, 21(2), 121–124. Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1001/amajethics.2019.121
Shulver, W., Killington, M., & Crotty, M. (2016). “Massive potential” or “safety risk”? Health worker views on telehealth in the care of older people and implications for successful normalization. BMC Medical Informatics And Decision Making, 16(1), 131. Retrieved from https://ezp.waldenulibrary.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mnh&AN=27733195&site=eds-live&scope=site
Virji, A., Yarnall, K., Krause, K., Pollak, K., Scannell, M., Gradison, M., & Ostbye ,T. (2006). Use of email in a family practice setting: opportunities and challenges in patient- and physician-initiated communication. BMC Med, 4(18), 1-7. Retrieved from https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-4-18