Transforming the NHS with technology could be a “pipe-dream” if the views of nurses are not heard, the e-health lead at the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) has warned.
The RCN has today (9 July) published results of a consultation with nurses and midwives on what is needed for nursing to play its full part in the digital transformation of healthcare.
The consultation is part of the RCN’s ‘Every nurse an e-nurse’ campaign, which is calling for every UK nurse to be an e-nurse by 2020.
Held between 25 January 2018 and 23 February 2018, the consultation had almost 900 online contributors, with an additional 100 attending five focus groups held across the UK.
One of the common themes to emerge from the consultation was the issue of IT programmes and systems designed without input from nursing professionals.
One contributor said: “[Decision-makers] often do not know the extent of our work and have never walked in our shoes, yet they make decisions on our behalf and bring in systems for us to use. They have no idea about workflows and how information is used.”
Another called for e-nursing leaders to not just be seen as “an IT project”.
Ross Scrivener, e-health lead at the RCN, said: “In the past few weeks leading up to the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we’ve heard a succession of healthcare leaders arguing that the best way to transform healthcare in the UK is to utilise the full benefits of digital technology. But our consultation shows that that aim will remain a pipe-dream unless managers, technology providers and IT staff take more account of the views of nurses, the biggest staff group in the health service.”
“The single most important theme to emerge from the consultation is that involving nurses in the design and implementation of programmes and systems to improve patient care is not an optional add-on – it is absolutely vital if those systems are going to provide the benefits they’re supposed to.”
Another common theme was out of date and inadequate IT systems.
A contributor said: “I hate to think how much nursing time is wasted each day waiting for computers to switch on, load emails, bring up blood results – that is, if you can find one that is free.”
Other barriers included lack of health informatics training in nursing degree courses and lack of staff.
Scrivener added: “Nurses see very clearly the potential of technology to transform their and patients’ lives and want to play their full part – but that won’t happen until their views are listened to”.