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Mobile Apps Help Boost Efficiency for Nurses

Advancing Health Outcomes
April 12, 2016
Mobile Apps Help Boost Efficiency for Nurses

As a nurse, have you ever wished that you had another pair of hands to help record patient data while you performed a patient assessment at the bedside? Well, now you can – almost. Some healthcare organizations today provide nurses with apps to use on hospital-issued mobile devices to help easily document, retrieve and communicate patient information at the point-of-care.

With the advancement of mobile app software and devices, nurses can instantaneously record information on a mobile app as they are checking vitals or assess patients, which help minimize documentation errors.  Some advanced mobile apps even have speech recognition-based capabilities for hands-free patient information recording into the electronic health records (EHR) system. It’s as easy as speaking directly to your smartphone app and confirming the recorded input.

According to Jason J. Fratzke, RN, MSN, chief nursing informatics officer for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the standardized use of mobile apps in healthcare facilities is in the early stages of implementation. Today, in many healthcare facilities, nurses write their patient assessments on generic fill-in-the-blank pieces of paper to record information about their patients, otherwise known as “brain sheets”.  Then, later in the day when a short window of time is available, they sit down at a desktop computer to plug all the patient information into the system. Fratzke notes that this can have significant implications for the care of the patient such as a delay in the documentation of discrete patient data that can lengthen the time that it takes for nurses to receive  early warning signs of patient deterioration or other notifications,

Fratzke is a leader in nursing informatics and specializes in developing and configuring mobile app technology for nurses. Four years ago, Fratzke began developing  and prototyping an internal  mobile nursing app, a native iOS app called “Infuze,” which uses an icon system (color, shape, blinking, etc.) with specific meaning for each icon that can communicate clinical and operational information to the user. The icon system allows nurses to access specific operational and patient clinical data easily and quickly on smartphones, tablets and/or computer monitor screens, many of which can be easily used at the bedside.

For the past year, Fratzke has been working to adapt a similar existing mobile app called “Epic Rover” with more advanced capabilities for nurses at Mayo Clinic. This app will be launched in conjunction with the staggered go-live schedule for Epic across all Mayo Clinic sites, beginning in mid-2017.  Epic Rover will help nurses record real-time patient assessment documentation more quickly and efficiently. Mayo Clinic will provide nurses with smartphones for work in order to use the "Epic Rover" app. Already, Fratzke has received positive feedback from nurses who have tested the app and applaud the convenience and time-saving features.

“The app can be downloaded on smartphones or tablets,” said Fratzke. “It has features to not only document patient care information but can also wirelessly scan and perform barcode medication administration, provide communication via secure messaging and deliver real-time notifications of essential patient information. These features provide more organization, proficiency and heightened communication between nurses and other healthcare providers, ultimately improving patient safety.”

Nurses aren’t the only ones who benefit from the efficiency of such apps. According to Fratzke, a healthcare communication paradigm shift is coming to the healthcare as patients choose to be more involved in monitoring healthy habits and making informed healthcare decisions. Through wearable devices, Wi-Fi enabled home health devices  and other innovations, nurses will be able to help patients be more proactive and feel empowered to maintain and improve their healthcare.  

“Wearable devices that can monitor consumers’ health are changing the way our society thinks about providing care,” continued Fratzke. “Understanding the implications of these technologies is ongoing, but we’re working closely with patients, consumers, and innovative companies to create the right solutions to support chronic health problems and other potentially evolving healthcare needs.”

According to Fratzke, being a nurse provides opportunities to improve healthcare in today’s technologically-savvy world. However, changing healthcare processes – especially in technology use require patience and time.  

“Our world is a digital world, advancing from one technological breakthrough to another. In nursing, this means that nursing informatics has to remain the solid bridge between nurses and the technology associated with improving patient care. The mobile nursing apps are only one aspect of technology that can help elevate nursing practice to new heights.”

For more information about nursing informatics, visit the informatics nurse specialty page on DiscoverNursing.com

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