Dec 09 2021

3 Nursing Tech Trends to Watch in 2022

What could nursing look like in 2022? HealthTech highlights strides in holistic healthcare delivery, the growing role of informatics and streamlined user interfaces.

Nurses play a critical role in healthcare delivery as one of the most trusted professionals in the field. Nearly 80 percent of Americans trust nurses to do what’s right for them and their families, according to an August 2021 UChicago Harris/AP-NORC poll.

Centering that trust and patient care offers a throughline to the three nursing trends that will lead 2022: more holistic approaches to healthcare, the growing role of informatics and improved technologies designed with a touch-free, zero user interface perspective.

“I really want nursing to continue the push to say, ‘Let's have the patient be the driver of their care and not the recipient of their care,’” Marti Taylor, president and CEO of nonprofit addiction recovery ecosystem OneFifteen, tells HealthTech. “I think, in many ways, technology can help patients be that driver of care.”

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1. The Continuous Delivery of Care

In 2021, 52 percent of healthcare CIOs named patient engagement technology as a top focus for the industry, based on research from Stoltenberg Consulting. That will continue into the new year as the trend toward holistic care grows, with nurses leading the way.

Patients want more from their healthcare, including actionable insights and better communication, which is leading to the desire for digital-first interactions and on-demand services. Nurses will play a vital role in connecting patients to their preferred care setting.

“I'm a big believer that technology can't replace high-touch. We've got to be smart enough to ask, how do we build these high-tech but high-touch solutions for patients?” Taylor says.

OneFifteen launched in 2019 in partnership with Verily, the life sciences organization of Google parent company Alphabet, and has its flagship campus in Dayton, Ohio. During the pandemic, Taylor says, the move to telehealth helped promote continuous treatment and healthcare access.   

Construction workers, for example, were able to have telehealth visits with a nurse practitioner from inside their work vehicle, rather than having to scramble for an in-person appointment. “Many of them will say, ‘You know, I probably wouldn't still be in treatment if I didn't have this option, because the clinic may be closed at 5:00 p.m. when I get off work and I can't get my meds, or I don't want to take time off work because I don't have time built up,’” Taylor says.

DISCOVER: Learn why including nurses in the conversation helps reduce EHR burden.

“I think technology really helps reduce barriers to care in many ways,” she adds. “It’s helped with meeting people where they are with access to care.”

As a nurse, Taylor trained in intensive care units, and she remembers the frustration of sifting through a paper-based medical record. The move to electronic medical records systems and ongoing digital transformation have greatly increased consistent communication and access to information, which ultimately improves connections to care.

Verily analytics tools and a mobile health app help connect care teams and patients to important health information. “Being able to integrate the information we get from a patient, whether it's looking at blood pressure, their self-reported outcomes and what their physician is seeing when they take a measurement — to be able to connect all of that information, it’s just so fantastic to have that whole-person look,” Taylor says.

That integrated approach means that all aspects of health are included. For example, a patient with hypertension and diabetes will certainly connect with specialists, but behavioral health will also be a key factor in treatment. 

“We really are managing that patient much more holistically,” Taylor says, “Technology helps by making that information available electronically.”

Nursing has always had a patient-centered approach to care, Taylor adds, and that will continue to guide the profession into the future.

“Nurses bring the message that we don’t exist without the people we serve, including their well-being; the people we serve go in the center,” Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League for Nursing, said in an April 2021 Nursing Outlook article. “Nursing has the opportunity to step out front, but it is not by ourselves; it’s about true collaboration.”

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2. The Growing Role of Nurses in Informatics

In the same article, Bobbie Berkowitz, dean emerita at the Columbia University School of Nursing, said about nursing’s greatest achievements: “Nursing leadership has changed from leading nurses to leading systems. The development of nurses as leaders has had significant impact in technology, research, and the utilization and evaluation of science.”

Nurses have led command centers and worked as intermediaries for artificial intelligence deployments. Regulators are emphasizing healthcare transparency and interoperability, and nurses will continue to play an important role in gathering and applying data in clinical workflows.

Roles such as chief nursing officer and chief nursing informatics officer — which encompasses both clinical and technological aspects of nursing — are key because digital transformation requires more than just EHR updates. 

LEARN MORE: Find out why nurses are essential to AI integration in healthcare.

Spurred by the pandemic, Humana included social determinants of health in its care coordination for members. “We were able to incorporate the clinical knowledge of nurses, social workers, behavioral health associates and pharmacists — and through an interdisciplinary approach to care along with our analytics, focus on identifying barriers and closing gaps,” Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Driscoll said in research for Johnson & Johnson, the American Nurses Association and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership.

As healthcare organizations evolve their care delivery strategies and rely more on data collection, storage and use, nurses in the vanguard will continue to expand their influence.

3. The Increased Reliance on Streamlined User Interfaces

Fatigue linked to a frustrating EHR is well documented, and an increased administrative burden takes time away from patients.

Zero user interface thinking aims to reduce screen time and rely on access through human gestures such as vision or voice prompts for interactions.

In healthcare, the use of natural language processing tools such as Nuance’s dictation solution is a move toward a zero UI approach.

RELATED: Learn why human experience is the future of healthcare.

For example, Northwell Health has deployed Nora, a virtual assistant that helps clinicians access patient data on mobile devices. After rolling out mobile devices to the nursing staff, Northwell Health will pilot Nora in its Microsoft Teams solution to organize care at shift changes. 

“It’s the same sort of information that nurses now talk through or hand off on a spreadsheet,” Deputy CIO Sophy Lu tells HealthTech. “This is a game changer for them.”

The pandemic created increased demand for no-touch interactions, and nurses will continue to seek such solutions to improve workflow.

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