There are two competing pressures healthcare today. First, is the increasing collection of data with mounting emphasis on compliance. The second is the proliferation of technology inside the care environment that has taken the spotlight.
I entered the workforce when everything was written by hand on charts and, of course, some people had bad handwriting; especially doctors whose writing was often impossible to read! But back then, more time was spent in contact with the patient.
In the past decade, there has been such an influx of information that was standardized and necessary. Every patient had to answer every question at every stage of care -- from admissions to assessment to discharge. Each time, data is collected about every system of the body from digestive to skeletal to prevent lawsuits when something is missed.
In all, it sometimes seems like a lot of unnecessary information gathering has gotten in the way of our care. As nurses we understand why this needs to be done this way, but it takes away from the personalization and TLC we can offer to our patients.
So the interface has to be as non-distracting as possible. When we wheel in our COWS (Computers on Wheels) we introduce a system that sits between us and it can turn the patient exchange into an impersonal discussion with a lot of typing and not a lot of eye contact!
As we adopt technology, we are looking for systems that avoid redundancy of the questions that are asked at every stage and with little things like the placement of the technology in the patient exchange (making COWS as non-obtrusive as possible). Design the technology with eye contact in mind.
As nurses, we’d like to sit on the edge of the patient’s bed and write on a notepad so we can make the patients feel special. We all want to feel special, especially when we are sick and in a hospital hoping for a good outcome.