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Staying focused on the human side of healthcare technology

Since I brought my bedside nursing experience into the health technology world more than a decade ago, I’ve maintained a strong awareness of the empathetic and very human element of what I do.

My role is to connect people with user-friendly healthcare technology. This allows me to tackle the incredibly complex challenges that plague the healthcare industry, while keeping people at the center of everything I do.

A big part of that involves empowering healthcare organizations to deliver a better experience for patients, families and my fellow clinicians.

I started my nursing career in the hospital setting at the bedside, taking care of patients. Even though I loved helping people in a hands-on manner, I quickly understood and felt everything that is wrong with and broken in healthcare.

Too often, healthcare technology is the cause of frustration and burnout for the care team. According to a 2019 University of New Mexico study, 40% of clinician stress and burnout can be directly attributed to the use of electronic health records.

I went through many go-lives with new technologies and would always wonder, ‘Who designed this? And did they get any input from the actual people who would be using it to take care of patients – people like the nurses?’

It seemed like electronic medical records (EMRs) kept getting harder and harder to use and required more and more charting – which consumed precious time that I could’ve spent with my patients. I’ve seen the occasionally dire outcomes and experienced firsthand the frustrations caused by healthcare innovations.

So, instead of being another nurse complaining about technology, I decided I was going to be part of the solution. I wanted to use my experience to transform the industry from a user-centric perspective, starting with an EMR provider that I had used every shift.

Healthcare technology must innovate to reach more people, effectively

At the bedside, I could help only one patient at a time. But with technology I could help countless patients and clinicians every day.

People frequently ask me, ‘Why did you become a nurse if you don’t take care of patients anymore?’ Simply put, I became a nurse because I wanted to help people. I wanted to listen, and to comfort and support them by being a shoulder to lean on during their worst days – days when it seemed like their world was falling apart and would never be the same.

My departure from bedside nursing wasn’t easy, as I still miss the patient rapport. But I knew that I could make a bigger impact and touch more lives with technology.

Clinicians know what clinicians need, and we can work backwards to figure out how tech can help make us better caregivers and deliver better and safer care.

This is something that can’t be taught in a classroom. It comes from a deep understanding and empathy of the clinical side that you can only get from real-world experience.

I believe healthcare must innovate. While emerging technologies have consistently embedded themselves in our day-to-day lives, healthcare has unfortunately lagged in adoption and adaption. However, a giant leap was made with the impact of COVID-19.

The pandemic quickly expanded the need for innovative tech projects and triggered a rapid adoption of technology that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

I had mixed feelings about not being at the patient's bedside at the start of the pandemic because I wanted to help patients and my fellow nurses. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to find ways to help through technology.

Thanks to my nursing background and expertise, I was able to collaborate with my technical colleagues to add new functionality, dashboards and workflows to our solutions that could help ease some of the critical challenges brought on by the pandemic.

I knew what these providers needed and understood the challenges they were facing because I’ve been in their shoes. These were once my challenges, my staff and my patients.

Delivering care, with care, for better outcomes

My hope is that more tech companies will realize they can use the skillsets of nurses to better understand the clinical and operational challenges of the industry. This will contribute greatly to the ongoing development and improvement of healthcare technology, making it a more user-friendly and enhanced experience all around.

Today, in my role at NTT, I have the honor and privilege of being part of a team of innovators and doers.

With innovative solutions like edge computing, cloud and 5G, we’re pushing the needle far beyond what we ever thought was possible – and transforming healthcare for the better.

Working in healthcare technology has allowed me to promote meaningful change. By creating innovative solutions, we enable healthcare providers to deliver safer, higher-quality care to more patients every day. It’s given me a seat at the table, representing the voice of the clinician and advocating for clinicians’ needs when decisions that affect the largest group in the healthcare workforce are made.

Everyone experiences healthcare at some point in their life, and the impact of a negative experience can last a lifetime. I became a nurse because I wanted to help people and make a positive impact in the lives of those who need it most. Whether I’m at the bedside, co-innovating with senior executives in the industry, at the policy table or in the boardroom, I am a nurse, first and foremost. I will always embody the nursing mindset of delivering care, with care, for life-changing outcomes.

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