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Outdated Technology: Do Nurses even Care?

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

Earlier this week I wrote about technology tools for nurses, and how everything we use seems to be so outdated. One thing I wondered: Do nurses even care? So I posed the question on Reddit and got some terrific feedback. And here’s the summary answer I came up with:

Yes, nurses care about technology updates, but not to the point of ever taking action to fix anything. Because that’s kind of hopeless.

In the hospital everything’s a little broken, right?

That BP cuff that only works every 5th time you use it.
That bladder scanner that’s been sitting in a corner for 2 weeks waiting to be fixed.
That 02 sensor that Biomed keeps sending back to you insisting that it works fine.
The med scanner that only works every 3rd time you use it.
The WOW that keeps getting booted off the WIFI.

All in a day’s work, right?

Also, who cares about using old outdated technology when what really gets to you is unsafe staffing practices, patient satisfaction scores, Joint Commission surveyors, and being forced to work sick?

And then there’s the “All the older nurses complain when they have to use technology.” This has been a legitimate complaint in the past, but it’s starting to wear thin. Who are the “older nurses” these days? It’s people in their 50s-60s who are more and more comfortable with computers. Most of the older nurses I know use smartphones. Nurses should be able to use smart phone technology for things like communication, charting, and med administration.  One of the great technological trends from the past 10 years is the push toward user experience, making technology user-friendly.

The bottom line is this: Nurses don’t have time to be frustrated by technology. The most successful ones do a little troubleshooting and move on with their day. Also, in the hospital setting, the nurse isn’t the consumer, so there’s no incentive to supply them with better technology. If you could find a way to tie technology to saving money (better patient satisfaction scores? higher nurse retention?) then you might see some improvements. But as long as nurses are fine with what they have, things aren’t going to get better.

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