Technology

The advantages of wearable technology in nursing

Wearable technology can help nurses and healthcare providers offer more patients a higher standard of care. Wearables can monitor patients’ vital signs, administer metered doses of medication, enhance the healing process and much more. 

Wearable technologies that nurses are using today

Below are just a few of the wearable technologies that nurses are using today to offer a higher standard of care.

Continuous glucose monitoring sensors

While living with type 1 diabetes has plenty of challenges, the use of continuous glucose monitoring sensors can make it a bit easier to manage the condition. A small sensor is placed under the skin of the patient’s arm or stomach and transmits their blood sugar levels to a wireless monitoring system. 

These sensors are often used by patients who are using intensive insulin treatment to control blood sugar spikes and drops. The data collected from the monitoring is used by healthcare providers to tailor the insulin dosage and other treatments to fit the exact requirements of the patient. These monitors make it far easier for patients to get the right number of medications and treatments they need to avoid any major disruptions to their life or incidents that put their life at risk.

Skin patches

Nurses spend a lot of time taking and recording patients’ vital signs. This is particularly true when patients are staying at a hospital for days or longer. Electronic skin patches may be used in the future to continuously monitor the vital signs of patients. This technology also has the benefit of allowing patients who do not wish to be disturbed as much the luxury of avoiding the frequent required vitals checks. Some patients who are recovering from surgery or other intensive treatments can benefit from more time to rest without being woken.

The time that nurses spend taking vital signs can be spent providing care and services to more patients or decreasing the time it takes to reach patients who are in true need of skilled services.

Hydration sensors

Dehydration is a bigger problem than most people realize. It is easier for some people to become dehydrated than others, but regardless of the reason, dehydration can be life-threatening and can happen quickly under the right circumstances. Sweat and hydration sensors can help prevent dehydration from occurring during strenuous activities. They can also help those suffering from health conditions that make it harder for them to eat and drink.

Sensors attached to the skin can help athletes maintain proper hydration levels during major sporting events or can help physicians to monitor patients with issues such as adrenal disorders.

Photoplethysmography (PPG)

This sensor helps physicians track blood flow to the heart using a sophisticated light sensor. Patients can receive faster and more accurate cardiac care by tracking blood flow. These monitors are also useful when checking to see how well a medication or surgery has worked. These sensors can be worn outside of a medical facility, so doctors can monitor how well blood is flowing to a patient’s heart as they go about their daily activities.

Pregnancy and neonatal monitors

Nurses and midwives often use monitors to assess how well a baby is doing in the womb. These sensors track the heartbeat and help alert healthcare workers if there is any sign of fetal distress. Neonatal monitors attach to an infant’s foot and can track when babies are awake or sleeping, breathing and more. 

Some infant monitors are even available for the public to purchase. This makes it easy for parents to have peace of mind while their baby is sleeping, especially when they are sleeping in another room throughout the day or night.

Smart bandages

Some conditions or injuries can result in wounds that take extra care to heal. Conditions such as diabetes, obesity, skin diseases and circulatory disorders can increase the likelihood of wounds not healing correctly. A smart bandage system can detect infection, administer medications when needed, and create healing progress reports for physicians. 

Better wound care and monitoring can significantly reduce the odds of serious infections and amputation, making a huge difference in the quality of life and overall health outlook of the patient.

Wearable drug delivery systems

For some health conditions and treatment programs, it is useful to have devices that can help ensure sustained levels of drugs in a patient’s system. This can prevent missed doses and a lot of up-and-down levels so that patients can experience better relief and faster healing times.

Wearable drug delivery devices also make it possible for some patients to be at home rather than hospitalized, thus increasing comfort levels and reducing healthcare costs.

Health alert monitors

Home health alert monitors have been available for a long time. These systems are also used in assisted living centers, especially with patients who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Health monitor alerts can signal for help when someone experiences a fall or even if they leave the premises of their care facility.

Nursing technology is going to play a major role in the future care of patients

New technology in nursing is just one of the exciting aspects of starting a career in healthcare. Walsh University offers some amazing online nursing degree programs regardless of where you are at in your career, from accelerated bachelor’s degrees that lead to an RN licensure to advanced degree programs for RNs wishing to embark on a career as a family nurse practitioner.

Wearable technology helps nurses communicate more effectively

Wireless earbuds, smartphones and smartwatches all help nurses communicate better with other staff and colleagues. These technologies are affordable and easy to use and help prevent mistakes and miscommunication. Having multiple methods to contact others, take notes, etc., all contribute to a higher level of care and the ability to treat more patients without the level of care needlessly suffering.

Wearable technology will change the ways that patients interact with medical staff

Wearable technology will undoubtedly change the dynamic of patient and nurse interactions. As some tasks will be automated, patients may not spend as much time one-on-one with a nurse or doctor. This means that healthcare facilities will need to take extra precautions to ensure that patients are receiving enough social interaction and emotional support. While less time in patient rooms may allow for more interaction with family and friends, some patients do not have a large support network they can rely on.

Encouraging additional visitors and providing volunteers and counselors to spend time with hospitalized patients can help their morale and reduce any feelings of isolation.

Wearable technology may reduce the cost of healthcare

While there is a cost to switching to wearable technology, over time, it may reduce the cost of healthcare. When tasks can be automated, thus freeing up more time for nurses to take care of more patients, the average cost of treatment is reduced. The use of wearables can help medical mistakes be avoided and prevent conditions from progressing and becoming more expensive and harder to treat.

Wearables also prevent injuries and increase the safety of patients who are experiencing dementia or mobility issues.

Conclusion

Wearable technology will play a large role in healthcare in the coming decades. The large population of aging adults, combined with more people living with chronic conditions and a shortage of healthcare workers, has created a perfect storm requiring medical teams to find ways to allow staff to take care of more people.

There is no doubt that more energy will be put into developing additional wearable technologies for the medical industry.

 

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