1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN

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Recently my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary by attending the Broadway musical Rent. The play detailed the trials sustained by a group of young people diagnosed with AIDS. As a result of advances in biomedical technology, new research findings, and an improvement in healthcare services, the characters live long past their own expectations. To best cope, they develop support groups to learn how to live while dying.

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Anticipating their final days, the characters focused on preservation of dignity, not on the technologies or treatments that would prolong their lives. They worried, would someone care about them as individuals? Would someone be able to look into their eyes, beyond their illness, and know and respect them as individuals? As I listened to the lyrics of the musical, I instinctively knew that the characters shouldn't be concerned. Nurses will ensure that their dignity is sustained.


Nurses rely on technology to deliver care. Computerized physician order entry, online medication administration records, electronic I.V. pumps, and sophisticated monitoring equipment significantly impact nursing practice models. By effectively using this technology, we can better care for our patients' physical needs, detecting potentially dangerous conditions prior to patient deterioration. By identifying early warning signs, rapid intervention by nurses improves patient care and outcomes. Countless lives are saved because of the available technologic tools that nurses incorporate into their daily practice. As nurse leaders, we need to remain current on these advances so we can advocate for the resources necessary to advance care delivery.


Improving patient safety should be the primary rationale for implementing technology. Information systems that offer decision support and the automatic execution of evidence-based protocols help to avoid human error. Computerized systems based on scientific rationale assist in the allocation of limited resources, reduce redundancy, and improve efficiency. Technology offers us safeguards when predetermined parameters are beyond control limits, allowing providers an opportunity to make educated decisions, intervene, and improve patient care and outcomes.


As nurse leaders we must work toward providing an environment that enhances a synergy between technology and compassionate care. We should make every attempt to ensure that appropriate technology is incorporated into practice without disrupting the relationship between the patient and the nurse. Technology shouldn't place barriers; it should enhance interaction, thus improving communication and relationship building. Through shared governance councils, nurses can be instrumental to evaluating the effectiveness of technology prior to its implementation to best meet the needs of clinicians and patients.


When patients enter our healthcare delivery system, they expect that their provider will deliver the finest in technologic care. The distinguishing factor of the performance of a healthcare organization is whether or not it can effectively balance the use of technology while providing an environment that focuses on the patient as an individual.


Although technology is vital, it will never replace nurses, those who deliver quality, compassionate care with the utmost respect for patient dignity.