Chris Netherton

Chris Netherton

Managing Director, Microtest

In the last month, NHS Digital has pledged to support the Royal College of Nursing’s campaign to “make every nurse an e-nurse by 2020” and to help make that goal a reality. The next few years should prove to be a very exciting time in the development of nursing in the UK.

Nothing is more important than the hands-on, personal care that our nurses give to their patients. In fact, NHS England has estimated that 80% of all patient care is delivered by nurses. However, the RCN initiative recognises that modern digital technology is having a profound effect on the way that care is delivered and that it is important that our nurses are trained to use these tools to their full potential. It is believed that digital technology has a vital role to play in the way care is provided, in helping to improve health outcomes for patients and in allowing our nursing teams to work more efficiently and effectively.

NHS England estimates that

0%

of all patient care is delivered by nurses.

A number of training and development initiatives are now being progressed in order to improve the digital capabilities of our nursing staff, covering areas like safety and security, communication, collaboration, technical proficiency and data recording.

Technologies such as e-medicines, electronic data monitoring and electronic health records will begin to play a bigger and bigger role in day to day nursing practice. Electronic health records are already helping nursing and care staff to do more remote working and to collaborate across different care settings. This trend will only accelerate in the future. This improved use of technology can also help our medical professionals to address unwarranted variations in the way patients are treated, leading to long term, sustainable improvements in care.

RCN chief executive Janet Davies has commented that:

“Technology and data are transforming healthcare, presenting huge opportunities to improve treatment, patient safety and wellbeing. It’s vital that nurses have the skills they need to make the most of these opportunities, and that’s what this project is all about.”

Prevention of disease will also be enhanced by this initiative. Nurses will be trained in how the use of apps and wearables can help patients to modify their behaviour so that they stay fit and well. Nurses are the perfect group of people to help champion the wider use of this technology in our society.

Through the work that we do at Microtest, we have seen the impact that these digital technologies have had on the delivery of primary care and the way that it they have helped to improve working practices across the board. It is fantastic to think that we will now see this technology being used to its full potential in secondary care. But the benefits don’t stop there…

A key driver in the development of Microtest has been the way that we collaborate closely with clinicians to ensure that our systems are working effectively and are continually improved to reflect changes in medical practice. NHS England currently employs over 280,000 nurses. Imagine when this huge, professional workforce is using the latest digital technology on a daily basis and feeding back their own thoughts and suggestions on how the systems could be enhanced and improved. I believe that our nurses could have an invaluable role to play in helping the industry develop its healthcare software to the next level.

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