IT Rounding Reduces Tech-Fatigue

IT Rounding Reduces Tech-FatigueNurses know that hourly patient rounding is a valuable practice that increases patient satisfaction and, potentially, patient safety. It’s an efficient way to address a lot of patient concerns in a systematic manner, before they get out of hand. Recently, HealthLeaders Media reported on another kind of “rounding” that is benefitting nurses and patients.

The case study recounts how HCA North Texas, a regional health system, adapted some of the principles of nurse rounding to create tech rounding. It involves a weekly visit from technology specialist to each nursing unit, to answer questions, troubleshoot tech problems, run system updates, and identify areas where more training may be needed. The idea is to move away from the reactive model of opening a help-desk ticket when a problem occurs, and proactively avoid tech issues that can wreak havoc in the middle of a nursing shift. As the case study noted, nurses rely on technology to meet important objectives, like complying with evidence-based infection control bundles. When everything is running correctly, nurses’ job satisfaction goes up.

It’s easy to understand how nurses can develop tech-fatigue. They use a myriad of technology-related equipment every day, including electronic medical records, barcode scanners, automated medication dispensing systems, wireless tablets, and “smart” versions of standard medical equipment like ventilators and infusion delivery systems, which are usually equipped with processor chips and screens. Being comfortable with technology is essentially a career survival skill for nurses at this point. But when technology isn’t working right, it can interfere with workflow processes and become a liability for the nurse—and the patients who are counting on safe, effective care.

Whether or not tech rounding catches on in your hospital, you can be proactive about resolving your own personal technology troubles. If there are certain computing tasks that don’t seem to go smoothly for you, find out who to call or email to resolve them. On the other hand, if you’re the nurse who is always up to speed on the latest technology and able to teach others how to use technology effectively, you may want to consider a career in informatics.

Tech-savvy nurses are a natural fit for the informatics specialty—they are already skilled users of the EMR and are familiar with nursing workflows. Most importantly, they can merge nursing science with computer science in order to make sure technology is patient-centric and does not devalue the human side of healthcare. Nurses have always been concerned with outcomes and safety; now they have a chance to incorporate these values into informatics as well as into clinical practice. Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be the IT specialist making rounds of the nursing units to ensure nurses have a positive user experience!

American Sentinel University’s online MSN degree with a specialty in informatics is designed for experienced nurse professionals who seek to develop their skills in information technology.