The past, present and future of innovation in nursing

By Caron Swinscoe, 9 July 2018

 

Head and shoulders photo of Caron Swinscoe at city centre waterfront

It’s a sobering thought, but I’ve been working in the NHS for 36 of its 70 years, so I’ve seen a lot of change. Most recently, the change which has excited me most has been the move towards mobile working. For me, it’s a real game changer; enabling nurses and midwives to access all the information they need to care for a patient wherever they are with that patient, whether it’s in a care setting, the patient’s home or a community setting.

Access to information helps nurses and midwives make decisions about how best to care for their patients. Having that information in their pockets really helps to save time and to transform the way care is, and can be, delivered. It’s not fully embedded yet, but it’s a real starting point.

Alongside the latest NHS recruitment campaign for nurses, #WeAreTheNHS, I want to highlight the benefits of a career in clinical informatics. We’ve been on this digital journey quite a while and there have been a few key people pushing the agenda forward, but we are now starting to see an increase in nurses and midwives becoming interested in informatics as a career. These digital leaders want to make sure that the technology delivered makes the job of caring easier, safer and enables nurses and midwives to better care for patients. It’s vital that we have nurses and midwives leading this work and prescribing the ways that technology can help to advance care in real life settings. Asking the experts who do the job safeguards against shiny new technology being handed to nurses and midwives, without checking what they need, for them to then try and make it work. It must always be about the care not the technology.

The link between clinical informatics, improving care and better patient outcomes is well evidenced and nurses and midwives are really starting to feel and understand the benefits of careers in clinical informatics.

Looking to the future, by the time the NHS prepares to mark its 100thbirthday, I’d really like to see patients and citizens able to take control of their health and care through information and technology.

We’ve already got technology such as wearables and patient portals, but if we don’t ensure that people can use the technology and the information to successfully make decisions and to look after themselves, then we’ll be letting them down. In the same way as we need to ensure the tools are right for clinicians to use, we need to make sure patients and citizens can influence the type of tools and the information they can use, to make informed decisions about their lives.

The more we engage with digital health, the clearer things will become and the easier it will be to determine what is right for health and care.