Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

The Impact of Emerging Technology on Nursing Care: Warp Speed Ahead

Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

The Impact of Emerging Technology on Nursing Care: Warp Speed Ahead

Article excerpt

Abstract

While myriad forces are changing the face of contemporary healthcare, one could argue that nothing will change the way nursing is practiced more than current advances in technology. Indeed, technology is changing the world at warp speed and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare settings. This article identifies seven emerging technologies that will change the practice of nursing: three skill sets nurses will need to develop to acquire, use, and integrate these emerging technologies; and four challenges nurse leaders will face in integrating this new technology.

Key words: Change, future, technology, genetics, genomics, Human Genome, 3-D printing, robotics, nanomedicine, nanotechnology, biomechatronics, Kansei, biometrics, electronic healthcare records, computerized physician/provider order entry, clinical decision support, nursing leadership, informatics, training, education

While myriad forces are changing the face of contemporary healthcare, one could argue that nothing will change the way nursing is practiced more than current advances in technology. Technology is changing the world at warp speed and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare settings. This article identifies seven emerging technologies that will change the practice of nursing; three skill sets nurses will need to develop to acquire, use, and integrate these emerging technologies; and four challenges nurse leaders will face in integrating this new technology.

Emerging Technologies That Will Change the Practice of Nursing

There are many emerging technologies that will change the practice of nursing in the coming decade. Seven are discussed here; genetics and genomics; less invasive and more accurate tools for diagnosis and treatment; 3-D printing; robotics; biometrics; electronic health records; and computerized physician/provider order entry and clinical decision support (See Table 1 for a discussion of the benefits and challenges of each).

Genetics and Genomics

* The American Cancer Society (2011) suggests that genetic testing is already being used for many reasons. Some of these reasons include:

* its predictive value (identification of gene mutations that might put a person at risk of developing a disease such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, or Tay-Sachs disease)

* its ability to determine carrier status or whether a person has a gene mutation which could be passed on to a child

* prenatal screening to diagnose some conditions in utero

* newborn screening (to determine the existence of a variety of inherited conditions such as phenylketonuria [PKU], cystic fibrosis, or sickle cell disease)

* as a means for checking cancer cells to determine prognosis or potential benefits of certain types of treatment.

Future applications of genetics and genomics will transform the health care system even further. Carroll (2011) suggests that by the year 2020 the healthcare system will have transitioned from one which "fix[ed] people after they were sick" (para. 1) to one of preventive, diagnostic, genomic-based medicine where patients will be treated for conditions we know they are likely to develop.

Health care professionals already encounter patients who arrive for diagnosis or treatment with their genotyping or genetic sequencing in hand. With websites such as 23andMe (2012), patients can send in a saliva sample and receive a comprehensive genotyping (DNA analyzed by genetic variants) with periodic updates on the latest biomedical literature for less than $100. Clearly, having genetic data can ultimately lead to better care and patient empowerment. But of concern are the ethical dilemmas associated with safeguarding such personal information and potential emotional consequences of uncovering unknown medical data without the guaranteed support of a primary care provider. Dilemmas such as these, and others we may not yet imagine, will pose significant challenges for all healthcare professionals, including nurses. …

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