Nurses bring eHealth closer to citizensPosted on October 23, 2017
Digitalisation is a crucial aspect of modern societies and healthcare systems. Technology has the important role to contribute to enhancing patient safety and patient empowerment as well as facilitating healthcare professionals’ work, with electronic tools supporting them in their daily work and allowing an easy and fast collection of relevant data. In particular, digitalisation in health has the potential to ease patient’s access to his/her health records and simplify and improve the communication with the carer. Moreover, digitised health information contributes in decreasing costs related to communication with the patient and between healthcare professionals.
Nevertheless, the dissemination of eHealth services still encounters some barriers related to the low capacity in using new technologies and lack of awareness, especially in the elderly population. A further digitisation of the system is necessary to enable patients managing their own health data. In this context, as pointed out by Gerli Liivet, from the Estonian Nurses Union, who represented the European nurses during the high-level conference “Health in the Digital Society. Digital Society for Health” organised by the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council on 16-18 October, nurses can play a significant role in the design and use of eHealth services. Namely, they are leaders in creating digital opportunities for patients and provide them with the main directions for health promotion and disease prevention. Nurses have a central role to play both in both fields, as they are in the unique and privileged position of having direct access to the daily people’s care needs and an in-depth knowledge of the patients’ situation. Therefore, any solutions in the path to digitalise health should reflect nurses’ views, through a real engagement with the frontline.
To this regard, the EFN has produced EU guidelines on eHealth services in Nursing and Social care, with main focus on prevention, clinical practice, advanced roles, integrated care and nurse-prescribing. Building on 120 existing cost-effective practices, the EFN EU project ENS4Care has provided an overview of the range/type of eHealth services currently being used for prevention, in order to extract knowledge on the use of eHealth applications as tools to enhance healthy lifestyles that will boost prevention in healthcare from a life circle approach. The results of the study proved that nurses are well placed to assess the health literacy levels of citizens, carers, families and communities to ensure that they are enabled to harness and gain maximum benefit from changing eHealth technologies.
There is evidence showing how to strengthen the role of nursing in the reshaping of the healthcare systems that, with the right knowledge, skills and opportunities, will place nurses in a unique position to act as a health coach and to help prevent Non-Communicable Diseases, by supporting healthy lifestyle. Therefore, nurses’ involvement is crucial in of development and implementation of eHealth in order to ensure a full connection to patients.