Nursing is a study in multi-tasking: multiple patients with multiple issues that require complex medication management.  In addition, nurses have to manage massive amounts of information from both human and computer sources.  This week, The Joint Commission called for hospitals to address “alarm fatigue.”  According to The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert, medical devices that issue too many audio and visual alerts can lead to healthcare providers becoming desensitized and ignoring the alerts.  Hundreds of alarms sounding in their unit is another “task” that nurses deal with every day.

Now imagine a nurse walking into a (quiet) hospital room and the most relevant information about the patient pops up on a screen.  A new device by Xerox does just that and also keeps track medications nurses have ordered for patients.  The device, called a Digital Nurse Assistant (DNA for short), is a small digital tag worn by the nurse.  The system recognizes when the nurse walks into a patient’s room, and flashes the patient’s information on a monitor and highlights anything that needs attention.

The system is a medical record extender and Xerox touts its ability to make healthcare systems more efficient by automating tasks that nurses currently handle manually.  The system also tracks the nurses at all times.  Nurses are constantly prioritizing tasks and the DNA device takes information into account in real time and re-prioritizes duties as physicians update orders and medications arrive in the unit.

If Xerox is to be believed, the DNA could make nursing simpler and easier.  Instead of checking over and over again to see if a critical patient’s medication has arrived, the nurse can go about his or her duties until being notified that the medication is available.  And instead of walking into a room full of beeps and screeches from alarms, the nurse has the most important information right in front of her eyes.

Our Insight.  Your Advantage. Nurses have numerous responsibilities and multi-task constantly.  Consider whether the DNA or another technology can assist nurses at your facility to automate tasks that are currently manual.  If a computer can do a task instead of a nurse or if it can allow a nurse be more effective, figure out how to implement it at your facility.  Good use of modern technology can save lives, time, and money.