This article was written on 30 Jun 2013, and is filled under Volume 17 Number 2.

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Future Column – v201306

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Future Thoughts Now Column

by Dr. Scott Erdley 

Senior Editor


Erdley, S. (2013). Future Column – v201306. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 17 (2), Available at  http://ojni.org/issues/?p=2653


erdleyThis musing is the result of a recent involvement with the healthcare system in my region of the US. A family member, since January, has had several admissions to the same facility with different diagnoses each time. As a result I have a few thoughts about the future of healthcare (at least in my neck of the woods) within and without the hospital environment. Caveat is some of these thoughts, while I anticipate are related to the future, may actually be realized somewhere in the world.

Firstly it should be a bit more seamless. Again, as with actual admission to the floor, being admitted through the emergency department / area usually (still) entails the same questions from different folks. Still need to get this under control so, in spite of different professions, all similar / same questions crossing professional lines are answered at one time. Then the answers populate all professional assessment records to eliminate repetition of questions to the patient.

Secondly, I anticipate future systems to be available to patients when results are posted. By this I mean patients will be able to review results on their own devices in the hospital as well as outside the hospital. I recall a few years back of someone at University of Pittsburgh and or Carnegie Mellon University (not sure where) creating a patient-centered room, which had large monitors /displays detecting not only who entered, or was in, a room but then displaying the appropriate information for those professionals to view as needed. Why not move this forward, if not already done so, for patient use?

Patient chairs, a decided low-tech ‘thing’, need to be updated. I understand the need for ‘stain-resistant’ material but isn’t there something on the market meeting this need and yet able to provide airflow to patient skin at the same time? Given the increased prevalence of ‘smart’ beds why not smart chairs? Built-in patient safety alarms would be a start (not just add-ons); why not include scale (as with beds) and vital sign monitoring as well (especially patient temperature)?

Computers on wheels – there has to be another way to provide point of care documentation in a form and style at the other end of the spectrum from putting the computer on a mobile cart. It is ungainly, awkward, and seems to take away from patient / caregiver interactions. Is there not some other technology available of less intrusiveness for caregivers to use? I am not sure what but there has to be something out there. Ideas welcome.

Communication would be my last point of discussion. Why not allow patients video conferencing with their primary provider? I mean, the technology is available, right? I understand the security concerns. However I do believe security can be designed to accommodate this type of interaction without compromising patent information. I know it is more a ‘time thing’ for both parties. But still, one would think this sort of interaction, while not perfect, nonetheless would promote patient/provider communication during a difficult time. Yes, there are hospitalists to help the primary provider during in-hospital stay but nothing can beat the 1-1 between a patient and their provider. I also understand the time constraints by both parties as well.

What have you experienced recently with either yourself or loved ones where you may see ‘future’ opportunities? Feel free to share thoughts, opinions and personal perceptions regarding any of the above with me personally at erdley@buffalo.edu and or on the OJNI website!

Until next time – Scott

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