The Queen’s Nursing Institute has launched a new drive to encourage district nurses to make the best use of new communications technology such as telehealth systems.
A report published by the institute today said some district nursing teams had already made significant changes to their practice as a result of new technology but others lagged behind.
It acknowledged that this variation in uptake existed because some nurses were worried that devices allowing remote consultations or measurements could damage their relationships with patients, or increase their isolation.
The report said: “The first, and possibly the biggest, issue is the attitudes of professionals to the adoption of new technologies, and their readiness to embrace such changes to practice.”
It cited a Royal College of Nursing survey from 2010, in which 20% of 1,300 respondents thought an electronic patient record could be a “threat” to the nurse-patient relationship.
But the report said communications technology was becoming part of “mainstream” community nursing provision and was “no longer just a series of interesting pilot projects”.
QNI director Rosemary Cook said: “Technology is transforming the way that care is delivered, as well as the relationship between the patient and the professional.
“It doesn’t replace the nurse, or the need for a high level of both clinical skills and interpersonal skills in community nurses. Technology only works for patients when it is combined with expert, relationship-based care.”
Susan Hamer, the Department of Health’s national director for nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions, said introducing Telehealth would mean “disruption to our old ways of thinking” but the nursing profession was used to change and having to acquire new skills.
The QNI will be running sessions on technology in community healthcare at its annual conference and plans to fund nurse-led projects in the field.