Community nurses are being called upon to take part in new research by a leading nursing association to explore how they value and use digital technology in their day-to-day work and whether or not some still “cling” to paperwork.
The research, by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, builds on the organisation’s previous Smart New World report published in 2012, which reviewed the status of “telehealth” – the use of technology to provide care - in community nursing
Anne Pearson, the QNI’s director of programmes, said it was time to look at the issue again to see whether the use of technology had improved and how far it saved time and reduced workloads.
”Does the training always go along with a new device or is there an expectation that you will intuitively know how to use it?”
The QNI also wanted to find out how far nurses use social media and text their patients, as well as the challenges of ensuring different pieces of technology work together, she said.
“There is growing awareness of the value of technology but we just wanted to see whether that translates into the workplace,” she told Nursing Times.
She said the research would ask some similar questions to the 2012 review but was much broader in its scope.
“It will look at where nurses use technology in their professional role and in what aspects of their work.
“Is it e-rostering, to support patients at home, capturing data, or all of those things? We want to understand the proportions of who is doing what out there, specifically in the community,” she said.
“Perhaps there is a perception that people cling to their paper diaries and don’t want them taken away and [the research] is really to understand the reality of that”
“Perhaps there is a perception that people cling to their paper diaries and don’t want them taken away and it is really to understand the reality of that – is that the truth?,” she added.
The QNI is also keen to know whether organisations have a nurse lead for technology to promote and champion its use and whether such roles made a difference.
“We want a perspective on how much technology is used and how confident nurses are in using it…Does the training always go along with a new device or is there an expectation that you will intuitively know how to use it?
“We’re also interested in communication such as whether nurses text patients and their use of social media at both a professional and personal level,” she said.
The research will seek to identify problems as well as positive uses of technology.
“How much is connectivity as issue? What is the reality of trying to get different bits of tech to talk to each other?” said Ms Pearson.
“We hear these stories but how much of it is real and how much of it is just hearing people being negative all the time?”
Overall, she said she hoped the survey would show use of technology had improved among community nursing teams.
“There is a reliance on technology and a huge amount of money being invested in it – let’s hope it is actually working at grassroots level,” she added.
The QNI will report back on its findings from the survey early in the New Year.