It can be interesting to see what people in the past thought the future would be like. From television shows, books, movies, and more, people in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and more found themselves predicting the future. It led to ideas of flying cars, robot servants, decreased crime, and even space colonization! While some of these facts have either come true or are in the process of becoming true, others are still firmly in the realm of science fiction for now.
With so many pop culture signs of the evolution of technology, it can be pretty easy to overlook some of the amazing changes we take for granted today. All things that the entire world, even a century ago, would have never even dreamed possible. But nowhere can a true leap in the world of technology be seen more than in nursing and medicine.
Plenty of amazing and field-defining changes have been made from the 20th to the 21st century, and all these developments have further improved the world of medicine and healthcare. Here are some of those improvements and why they have stuck around as time continues to roll on.
Paper records to computer records
One of the biggest changes hospitals and doctors have made is going from paper to computer records. While several healthcare institutions have backups of paper records, the vast majority have switched to electronic records, and it is interesting to go over why this change was made. Paper records were largely organized and put together in some filing systems because they were (at the time) cheap and convenient. All you needed was paper, file folders, and a lockable cabinet to store them in.
Additionally, once you had whatever organizational system you had down pat, it was extremely easy to add the folders you needed to the system. Plus, you could also find the required folders quite simply because everything was in the same place. It was especially amazing during a crisis because the requested files could be easily found.
The paper system was also quite easy to introduce to others because you just needed to show a newcomer the system once, and they were in. Paper records were also very similar, so it was easy for a doctor to pull up a file, examine previous notes, record new observations, and find the required information.
The disadvantage of paper records (and why they were switched out!)
The biggest disadvantage of paper records is that it takes quite a bit of time to scale them all effectively, and the more you have, the more space they will take up. File cabinets are big and bulky and can take up entire rooms if you let them, and you also need to ensure that the room is prepared to preserve your important papers. You don’t want to deal with temperature problems, bug infestations, or other issues that could lead to the destruction of your records.
Another major disadvantage of physical files is that they are vulnerable to fires, damage, theft, misplacement, and other problems that can ruin your entire day. Losing physical files can be a massive blow to your business. Plus, physical files are also stationary and can’t be moved unless you are carrying the entire file with you. So if you are somewhere where you need a file and do not have one, then you’ve got to spend your time going to get it.
That is why the switch to digital files was made. Computer problems aside, the ease of storing your files and the flexibility when it comes to being able to access them from anywhere can’t be beaten. It gives nurses and doctors much more information and also allows them to use it to support one another and their patients.
Electronic and automatic medical items
Nursing was far more hands-on than anyone expected, even more so during the 20th century. Many of the procedures that we take for granted today were all done by hand merely a century ago. For example, IV monitors needed to be administered with the constant attention of a nurse to ensure they remained inside the patient. These early IVs were very sensitive to a patient’s movement, and that meant that an IV would either speed up or slow down at the slightest shift done by a patient. Then, the nurse would need to fix the problem, and the process would repeat until the IV was finished.
Another manual piece of technology was the sphygmomanometer, the technical (and much cooler) name for the electronic blood pressure cuffs that measure a patient’s heartbeat rate. Before the electronics did all of that for them, many nurses needed to measure the patient’s blood pressure manually, which took a long time.
But now, the blood pressure cuffs and IV monitors are all electronic, so a nurse must set them up, wait for the machine to do its thing, and then respond to any problems. Other medical procedures and devices have either gotten easier or been made fully automatic simply by the advancements in appliances and electronics. Plus, now, these technological advancements allow nurses to keep an eye on many different patients at a time, all without the care level dropping at all.
One of the biggest benefits some people take for granted is the vast advances in portable medical equipment. For instance, a portable defibrillator can help revive someone whose heart has failed. While manual CPR is not only important but also instrumental in keeping someone alive who is suffering from various heart problems, the benefits of a portable defibrillator will help resuscitate someone who needs some serious help.
Other portable medical devices allow doctors and nurses to take the care they provide on the road and give effective medical care outside a hospital. It can be good for patients who need home health care or those suffering an emergency and need to be tended to either onsite or on route to the hospital. Rather than trying to get to a medical facility as quickly as possible, the care can be done quicker.
Finally, portable IT devices have been used in hospitals more frequently in the 21st century because they allow nurses and doctors to see real-time and constantly updated information while increasing communication and the time it takes to see results. These devices enable hands-free communication and support for patients, doctors, and nurses and let everyone involved be in the know about what is happening.
Learning about the constant growth of technology in nursing
If you want to become a nurse or see how much the technology world of nursing has grown, don’t be afraid to examine how people learn about technology in nursing. Plenty of schools, such as Walsh University, are preparing students about how technology is advancing in the nursing field and teaching them how to master all that technology can do within the industry. The technology available is changing and growing, and new advances in the areas of AI, robotics, and telehealth services are going to expand further on how patients can be fully supported and cared for whenever they go to hospitals.
For example, with the rise of all the technology and data in hospitals, the field of predictive analytics will come into play more and more often. Predictive analytics allows for patient data to be fully analyzed and for the data of past patients to influence the present course of care. Suppose certain patients have had the same illness and have received certain types of treatment to get a better result. In that case, predictive analytics will outline a similar treatment plan to get a similar outcome.
Look forward to the future!
It will be extremely interesting to see what the 22nd century brings to medical technology. Will we have fully robotic hospitals? Holographic 3-D displays of the inside of a patient? The ability to print and regrow limbs, bones, and organs for implantation into patients? It will be interesting, and like the people in the 20th century who couldn’t have foreseen the switch to digital files, we probably won’t see the massive changes coming, either.
But that doesn’t mean that we should fear the future because all of these changes are going to ensure that patients get healed and helped and that the field of medicine is going to continue to grow and become more effective. The future and the evolution of medical technology are going to be interesting. That makes it worth looking forward to.