What is Digital Nursing in the UK?
While the term “digital nursing” might sound like it was plucked from an episode of Doctor Who, it’s actually part of an innovative plan to ease the strain on the healthcare system in the UK by digitising patient care. With the NHS still reeling from the aftermath of COVID-19, could the rollout of these technologies be the solution to a system in crisis mode?
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at UK digital nursing, what it is, why there’s a demand for it, and how to incorporate it into your workplace to increase efficiency and reduce burnout in nursing jobs.
What is Digital Nursing?
If you’re still imagining a nurse appearing via hologram to check your blood pressure, we’re not quite there yet (sadly), but digital nursing does involve some cutting-edge technology. In 2019 the NHS rolled out a long-term plan for a digitally enabled workforce that will integrate a range of technologies designed to optimise clinical workflows and improve patient care.
This includes things like:
- Remote monitoring of health metrics
- Wearable sensors
- Patient bedside technology
- Virtual reality
For example, rather than having Nurses doing the rounds to check in on patients, patients are fitted with wearable sensors that will alert Nurses and clinicians if key metrics cross a specified threshold.
Why Do UK Nursing Jobs Need It?
It’s no secret that nursing is among the most gruelling professions there are. In the aftermath of the pandemic, this is truer than ever. A recent paper reported a 25% increase in the number of NHS nurses leaving their roles in the previous 12 months, with two-thirds of them being under the age of 45.
A survey conducted by the Royal College of Nursing asked Nurses about their last shift and the results were as follows:
- More than 80% said that they didn’t have enough time to provide the level of care that they wanted to
- Less than a quarter said their shift had all the rostered number of Nurses
- 8 out of 10 Nurses said that there weren’t enough nursing staff to meet all patient needs safely and effectively
With these figures in mind, it’s no wonder that Nurses are leaving in droves.
This, coupled with the fact that demand for Nurses will only increase along with the UK’s aging population, it isn’t hard to see why a shortage of Nurses is on a collision course with the realities of a rapidly changing world.
Enter, digital nursing.
With a digitally enabled healthcare system, pressures on Nurses will be majorly reduced. It’s a common knee-jerk reaction to assume that digitised health care will reduce the human element in patient care, but actually, by freeing up Nurses’ time, these technologies allow Nurses to give more focused, and better care to more patients.
How to Empower Nurses to Embrace Digital Technology
If you’re looking to introduce more efficiency, reduce nurse burn out and increase patient care, here are our tips for empowering Nurses to embrace digital technology.
- Start Training Now
As many of the technologies in the NHS Long Term Plan are yet to be implemented, it’s important to train your staff from the ground up so that by the time the more complex technologies are rolled out, you will have a digitally savvy workforce that will easily adopt and accept them.
- Explain the Benefits to Your Nursing Staff
Let’s face it, most people aren’t thrilled to find out that they need to remember another password, to log in to another app, or to spend more time staring blankly at a screen. Remember that you’re dealing with people who are already overloaded and the idea that new technology is the answer may be a tough sell, at first.
But if you’re able to clearly outline the benefits of these technologies and what they can achieve before beginning training, Nurses will be much more enthusiastic and likely to embrace them.
- Work with Staff to Find the Right Systems for Them
Remember that Nurses aren’t trained IT professionals and that some technologies won’t suit everybody. Where possible, try to ensure that the systems you’re rolling out are suitable to the individual, and try to cater different systems and technologies to staff who are comfortable with it.
With a workforce that’s been devastated by the pandemic, staff shortages and a range of other systemic issues, the promise of a digitally enabled healthcare system could be a much-needed breath of fresh air for a workforce in desperate need.
Though depending on how it’s approached, these technologies may only serve to further alienate an already exhausted workforce. As one of the leading nurse recruitment agencies in the UK, our team is well placed to help you adopt these technologies to improve working conditions, increase efficiency and improve patient care. Get in touch with our team and learn more about the latest nursing jobs in the UK.