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Technology Improvements Key to Nursing Improvements

The American Academy of Nursing's Workforce Commission today released the results of a study on how to improve the healthcare practice environment. It found that technology will play a huge role, and manufacturers of medical devices and healthcare IT systems need to work with nurses to come up with solutions. Device and IT companies "need to develop technologies that staff will accurately use, not work around," said Linda Burnes Bolton, president of the AAN.

The report identified 327 workflow issues, and more than 1000 potential technology solutions. Pamela Cipriano, a member of the workforce commission, identified a few important technology issues. They include: * "Smart" IV pumps are designed in a way that nurses can work around them, which compromises safety. They need to be designed in a more user-friendly way. * Bar code, RFID and other medication management systems are too often designed in a cumbersome way, and are too easy for nurses to work around. * Nurses need fully integrated, handsfree, wireless devices that can inform them about the status of all their patients. Carrying four or more different devices that perform some of these functions does not work; it all must be integrated into one or two devices. * Advances in supply-chain technology have not made their way to the hospital floor. They need to. * Device companies must consult with nurses about usability issues when designing products. It is shocking that many of them do not. The report, "Technology Targets: A Synthesized Approach for Identifying and Fostering Technological Solutions to Workflow Solutions on Medical/Surgical Units," was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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