Technology firms should consider shadowing nurses to fully understand their workflows and inform the creation of solutions that work for them, a new report has suggested.

The report – ‘Clinical documentation and nurses: the challenges and opportunities’, which has been published by software firm Nuance Communications – draws on discussions at a roundtable event held last year.

The roundtable was chaired by Anne Cooper, chief nurse at NHS Digital, who said the aim was to encourage nurses to imagine “how technology could be used better”.

“Nursing is really complex, there are so many different flows. So one solution [to building good software] could be for technology companies be right there with them [nurses] so they can understand what nurses do,” Cooper told Digital Health News.

She continued: “We are in a watershed moment where we rely increasingly on electronic patient records and if we don’t get some of the fundamentals right, then the risk is we will build on sand.

“We need to reflect the reality of what is happening in practice.

“Technology can enable a different way of working, but it has to be the right technology and nurses have to say what they need.”

To that end, Cooper said NHS Digital and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are currently preparing to launch a UK-wide consultation to explore the use of digital technology in nursing.

Nurses can have their say in the online workshop which launches on 25 January.

It is hoped the results of the project will help RCN’s call for improved education, training and development on digital literacy.

It is also part of RCN’s “every nurse an e-nurse” campaign. As previously reported by Digital Health News, the aim is that by 2020 every nurse will be able to use technology and data to maximum effect for patients, carers and service users.

“The workshop is about getting to the core of what nurses are thinking and it’s exciting,” Cooper said.

Late last year, Health Education England ran an online workshop to inform its Building a Digital Ready Workforce programme. Results are expected to be published in the coming weeks.