Nurses can no longer think of using technology at work as something “other people do”, according to a new national publication that highlights the importance of digital skills in delivering the best nursing care.
Drawn up jointly by the Royal College of Nursing and Health Education England, the document emphasises the need for all health and care professionals to be “digitally literate”.
“Many skills are easily transferable to our work lives where they can be used in supporting the best outcomes for all”
HEE and RCN publication on digital skills
Technology can help boost collaboration between professionals and patients, reduce duplication, prevent mistakes and confusion and improve patient safety, states the guide.
However, it adds, healthcare has traditionally been slow to adopt new digital tools and technologies that have the potential to transform care.
It highlights the fact people are increasingly using technology in their personal lives, including booking holidays online and ordering takeaways, as well as using technology to monitor their own health and make changes.
“Many skills are easily transferable to our work lives where they can be used in supporting the best outcomes for all,” says the document.
However, it acknowledges that trying to get to grips with unfamiliar technology can “lead to frustration and lack of confidence” among nurses.
Other barriers to using technology include a lack of time during work to complete online learning. As well as policies restricting the use of personal smartphones and tablets at work for learning activities.
”It is important the nursing and midwifery workforce are prepared and equipped to lead and deliver this change”
Other factors include “patchy” access to wi-fi and poor bandwith and the fact that file-sharing online is often discouraged.
The document highlights the importance of leadership in encouraging staff to develop digital capabilities and “ensure that there is appropriate access and resources to support that”.
The document flags up the RCN’s “every nurse an e-nurse” campaign and new digital capabilities framework for nurses and midwives.
Nurses working on the frontline today are living through a technological revolution, said RCN general secretary Janet Davies in a foreword to the guide.
“We may not be able to predict exactly how these changes will shape our future however it is important the nursing and midwifery workforce are prepared and equipped to lead and deliver this change, working in partnership with our patients and clients and within our multi-professional teams,” she said.