While the process of nursing has essentially remained the same for centuries, the practice of care delivery has changed significantly in recent decades. Research advances in medical care and treatment delivery have spurred new technology essentially focused on automation. Much of the healthcare delivery system can be or is sequenced and repetitive. This has facilitated the creation and use of new medical devices improving safety and driving more precise, predictable outcomes. Examples include robotic surgery, high-tech implantable devices, newly developed pharmaceuticals, smart technology for medical equipment such as infusion pumps, as well as many others.
Meaningful use certified electronic health records, driven by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are being implemented in a variety of stages in an effort to improve patient care (CMS, 2014). The implementation of meaningful use with electronic medical or health records (EMR or EHR) is tied to a vision for improvement in information access and retrieval, as well as health-provider ties to financial incentives. The improvement in access to timely medical information for emergent situations, or as people are transient and mobile in today’s society, will benefit both patients and their caregivers by having the necessary information available to allow the best, informed choices for their care.
Electronic access to information for nurses to make care decisions for patients is essential (Kelley, Brandon, & Docherty, 2011). A multitude of nursing publishers has made traditional texts, policies, procedures, and diagnostic tools immediately available via electronic means. This real-time information accessibility assists nurses in making sound care decisions for their assigned patient population.
The advent of social media has presented benefits and challenges for the nursing and healthcare industries. The immediacy of information is a benefit; however, the commitment to confidentiality and privacy can often be challenging (National Council of State Boards of Nursing [NCSBN], 2011). Most organizations set policy regarding the use of social media, appropriate cell-phone usage, and photography with a strict set of parameters not to be violated (for patient privacy) without adverse consequences. Nurses must use extreme caution not to breach the trust of patient relationships and confidentiality of patient-related health information.