Technology skills are such an essential requirement for nurses in 2015 that a lack of them should be considered a fitness to practise concern, a nurse expert on digital information has claimed.
Anne Cooper, NHS England’s clinical informatics advisor for nursing, said the use of technology – such as mobile devices, online resources and electronic record systems – by nurses was essential for improving care.
Speaking earlier this week at a conference on district nursing and digital technology, Ms Cooper said she took “a very hard position” on the issue.
“In 2015, nursing requires you to have some technology skills. That’s it – the bottom line. If you can’t, then I would question whether or not you are fit for practise,” she told delegates at the Queen’s Nursing Institute event.
Ms Cooper warned that nurses needed to “catch up” with the way that patients used technology and “stop pretending” that some – such as the elderly – did not have access to it.
She said technology and informatics – how information is collected, stored and shared – was now a component of a nurse’s daily duties.
“Most senior nursing leaders see a future where technology plays a strong role in nursing practice,” she said. “Informatics has the potential to be a key part of what we do in the future and the way we deliver care from undergraduate education in basic practice, right through to senior leadership positions.”
“In 2015, nursing requires you to have some technology skills. That’s it – the bottom line”
She highlighted mobile devices – such as smart phones and tablets – as being “critical” for community practitioners, in particular, highlighting how the ability to input patient records in “real time” meant nurses could spend less of their day travelling back to base in order to use a desktop computer.
Ms Cooper urged district nurses to gather evidence about how technology helped them carry out their duties and to use this to apply for funding to develop new ways of sharing information.
She said NHS England’s £65m Nursing Technology Fund for 2013-15 had been “dominated” by applicants from acute trusts, and she was “slightly disconcerted” that fewer community groups had applied than expected.
However, Ms Cooper acknowledged there were challenges around new technologies such as isolated working – though she said social media could help counteract this – how to standardise electronic record keeping, and ensuring new systems included the most beneficial clinical content.
“We’ve got to engage across professions, we’ve got to engage with our clinical partners and with patients. We’ve got things such as the emerging role of the chief nursing informatics officer, we’ve got to think about how we develop electronic systems that have the content we want in them,” she added.