Digitalisation is supposed to support the health workforce, not pulling them away from the bedside!

Digitalisation is supposed to support the health workforce, not pulling them away from the bedside!

Posted on September 19, 2017

The EFN has delivered EU guidelines on eHealth services in Nursing and Social care, with main focus on prevention, clinical practice, advanced roles, integrated care and nurse-prescribing. All aiming at bringing nurses closer to the patients! Therefore, the increasing engagement of frontline health professionals in designing digitalisation for health and social care systems is assumed to bring benefits and improvements to health and social care system outcomes. Digital innovations and big data should enable people to manage their health more independently and should be used for clinical purposes (adjusting the clinical pathways) and improve health system governance and outcomes (less red tap), and thus lower down the workload of frontline running the system.

However, although the EFN has recognised the potential of health digitalisation and eHealth, there is a growing concern regarding the consequences of the lack of (or no) engagement of nurses in the design of Electronic Health Records (EHR) on nurses ad doctors workload, knowing that often doctors delegate the bureaucracy (like DRGs) to “their nurses”, already being cut in numbers since 2008.  Instead of supporting the frontline workforce, IT tools, EHR, drive nurses and GPs away from the clinical patient rounds. Evidence in the US shows that EHR developed by civil servants (governments in Joint Actions), move away GPs (and nurses) from the bedside, towards their PC. In parallel, the numerous hours daily spent in interacting with EHR systems are significantly decreasing the available time for physicians and nurses to engage with patients.

Therefore, integrating digital technology, and robots, in the nursing care process can further support the profession, but before that, greater attention should be devoted to the frontline nursing and GPs’ workforce, whose role is crucial to guarantee an efficient care delivery with the patient’s need as the central focus.