NURSES' natural DESIRES to be SATISFIED, by technology
No more drinking tea and filling forms, empty that bedpan
Nurses will get £100m worth of mobile tech including digital pens and other handheld tools, Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have just announced.
It is hoped that the digi pens and other piece of comms tech will let nurses spend more time with patients and less time sitting around filling in paperwork with old, non-digital pens. Hunt said:
Most nurses and midwives chose their profession because they wanted to spend time caring for patients, not filling out paperwork. New technology can make that happen.
The nurses and midwives don't have to spend the £100m dosh on pens, they can chose other pieces of kit depending on what they think would work best for their workplace: the idea is that the gadgets will allow more face-to-face time with patients.
Digital pens capture the handwriting of a user and convert the pen marks into digital data, which can be sent off and synced with a central database. That means the notes made about a given patient – provided they're written legibly – can be collated easily and will only need to be written out once.
Community nurses in Devon got 3G tablets in February - to help them find patients' houses for home visits, among other things.
Hunt has stipulated that the pen money isn't a handout: it's a loan. But if the hospitals register good feedback from the "friends and family satisfaction" tests that rate hospital treatment, then the NHS won't have to pay back the £100m pen money loan. ®
Re: More time to spend...
The reason Nurses spend so much time sitting at the nurses station is that the amount of paperwork and form filling has increased by around a gazillion percent* but the number of nurses on a shift remains at the level we had in 1982.
When I started nursing the average 7 1/2 hour shift consisted of 6 1/2 hours of patient contact followed by 1 hour of writing it all up. Now out of the 7 1/2 hours most of my staff nurses have to spend nearly 4 hours filling out forms who's only purpose is to reduce our legal liability (smoking rates, alcohol consumption, dementia screening, deep vein thrombosis screening, pressure care assesment, nutrition scoring, cannula monitoring, fluid balances etc. etc. etc.... all these are things that used to be done as a matter of course by nursing staff but now must be recorded on separate forms for every patient in order to reduce our public liability insurance premiums. When I started 15 years ago the average patient admission generated about 10 pages of records per day, that number is now closer to 50 pages per day ).
The 'care in nursing**' has essentially been beaten out of most nurses by systems that prioritise legal liability reduction over actual looking after people - I have never seen a nurse fired for not having enough time to talk to a patient but I have seen some fired for not filling out forms.
Any technology that can act to reduce the amount of time taken out of a nurses' day to fill out forms can only improve things (of course, the challenge is to make it something that actually works).
** It's all too easy to rant on about 'care in nursing' but like most of my colleagues I have little regard for the opinion of people who don't have the need to develop the emotional ability to alternate between dealing politely with a complaint that the tea round is a bit late today immediately after they had to tell someone that their mum just died as part of their everyday job.
Re: More time to spend...
Sorry not my experience, the elderly gentleman in the bed next door to me would have starved (the auxillaries took the plates he couldn't reach away full) or died of thirst his water jug wasn't filled day to day, if it hadn't been for his fellow patients.
When I went to get a clean water jug and extra pillow for him I had to interrupt 4 nurses discussing eastenders. and drinking tea. They didn't seem to be involved in paperwork.
I wouldn't mind but the hospital seems to be completely incompetent at paperwork as well.
Re: More time to spend...@ Great Bu
I didn't point out in my original views of our local hospital that my wife is an RGN, RM, has worked as a sister at the hospital in question, and has been a patient there. The fat wasters gassing at the nursing station aren't fillling out paperwork, they are doing nothing (and I'd point out that most wards have a small army of indolent filing clerks as well). I should also point out that this hospital was subsequently singled out by regulators for special criticism of its care of the elderly, which had nothing to do with paperwork.
I'd agree that management and lawyers have made things worse, but there is a fundamental problem that too many nuses now don't believe in the provision of care, other than as some module to be passed as an evil necessity. They (and nursing "directors") think that cleaning the ward is beneath them, to be subcontracted out to the cheapest possible supplier. They think that feeding, talking to patients is something for Philipino auxiliaries to do. Even the stuff so many think that they should be doing (taking obs) is done indolently and infrequently.
I also know of other hospitals where care is much better; but my original point stands, that technology won't make the standard of nursing any better, in the same way that technology often hasn't improved any other government controlled service (or for that matter quite a few commercial services).
So I don't see technology as a cure-all on this.
I'd suggest that any technology that reduces the amount of time a nurse spends filling forms will merely result in (a) even more data being gathered, simply because it can, or (b) a reduction in the hours allocated, in order to reduce costs.