Top 10 Nurse Tech
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Technology has changed the way the world functions. With the rise of the industrial revolution, technology has changed the way we cook, the way we store food, the way we communicate, as well as the way we treat patients. The advancement of technology can be both good and bad. Increased technology leads to increased cost of healthcare, but it can also lead to better management of care. Nurses utilize this technology at work every day, but what about the tech not at work? What a nurse brings in his or her pockets can make or break a shift. Read more for Top Ten Nuse Tech!
Top Nurse Tech: Portable Pulse Oximeter
A small portable pulse ox can easily fit into your pocket and can save you some hassle at work. These little pieces of nurse tech are only around $20, and they are pretty durable. While your unit will have pulse oximeters on the monitors and probably some free-standing ones, sometimes it can be very difficult to locate one. Personally, this little gadget has saved me quite a bit of time. There are often many patients not critical enough to require constant pulse oximetry in the ER. A portable pulse ox can spot check a heart rate and SPO2 in a few seconds and is perfect for a quick discharge set of vitals to prove that they were living when they left. There is nothing more frustrating than not having access to a portable pulse ox and having to open a disposable pulse ox, connect it to the monitor, and wait 10 more seconds for a reading. This is a waste of time and money for the department. Save yourself some time and energy and just carry one of these guys in your pockets! The battery tends to last a long time and most of them use AAA batteries so changing out the battery is also a piece of cake.
Portable Blood Pressure Cuff + Adapter
You may have access to plenty of portable Pulse Ox’s in your department, but there is a high possibility that manual blood pressure cuffs are harder to find than a good deal at a Tesla dealership. When a blood pressure reading is very high or very low with the automatic BP machines – we really should be checking a manual measurement to verify the results. This can be problematic when no manual cuffs are available, and there may not be any functional bedside cuffs available. The Welch Allyn DS44-11 is an affordable detachable bulb/gauge and an adult-sized cuff. But you DON’T want to keep reusing your personal adult sized cuff on different patients. This is an infection control issue, and just nasty anyway. The great thing is that with the Welch Allen DS44-11 Cuff + Adapter, it can disconnect from the cuff and is attachable to any Welch Allyn disposable FlexiPort cuff. It just so happens that the most widely used disposable cuffs in hospitals are the Welch Allyn FlexiPort cuffs. This means that you can use the disposable cuff provided by your facility in order to perform your measurements. All you need to do is attach your personal one-piece bulb, valve, and gauge to the disposable cuff, whip out your stethoscope, and check the blood pressure.
Yes, a Fitbit is the cheaper alternative. These can function as a watch and keep track of your steps, and depending on the version, it can track your heart-rate and may have other features as well. But what I truly consider a valuable piece of nurse tech is Apple’s iWatch. The Apple app store is almost infinite at this point, and many built-in and downloadable apps can help streamline your patient care.The clock can be set to military time to help with charting purposes (not to mention counting down until the shift is over). There’s also actual countdown apps which you can literally program to let you know how much time until you leave. You can use the alarm app to set limits doing various activities, with a silent vibration to let you know to move onto the next task. Additionally, alarms can be set to make hourly roundings, to turn patients every 2 hours, or to remind you to check back on a certain patient in 15 minutes before the bolus runs out. Off the record – if you need to be sneaky you can also scroll through Instagram, read and respond to texts, and most importantly get alerted to Pokemon in the general vicinity. Additionally, you have access to the built-in features of the Apple iWatch such as the heart-rate tracker, the activity reminder, and the step-counter. The possibilities are literally endless as newer apps are being released frequently.
Okay, so unless you have $2,000 lying around, you are NOT going to buy the infrared vein finder. And let’s be real – with a little practice, you won’t need one. Sure – a device like this could come in handy with a very hard stick, but a device this expensive should really be purchased by the facility if it is in that big of a need. A MUCH more affordable option for this handy nurse tech is the Illumivein Portable Vein Finder. No, the Illumivein doesn’t use Infrared technology and isn’t as cool as that expensive version, but this is the Nursing-on-a-Dime version. This is basically just a strong red LED flashlight. This could potentially be used with hard sticks, but will likely be more useful with neonates and infants, and maybe the elderly with thin hands.
Alright, this one is basic, like… a 13 on the pH scale. There are some tools that should be in every nurse’s pockets, and every nurse should have a good Penlight. You likely will have many different opportunities to test pupils and look into mouths and who knows what other orifices. Sure, if your department has bedside otoscopes you can utilize this, but that is a BIG if. Nightshift on the floors, it can be useful as a source of light when checking in on your sleeping patients. All Penlights are NOT made equal. I have bought multiple penlights only to have them break after a few shifts. Are you truly a hospital nurse if your pens didn’t all fall out of your pocket on an hourly basis? These penlights on Amazon I have personally used and are very durable. They also come with pupil guides for you to gauge pupil size.
Writing down relevant clinical information is essential in most practice settings, especially within the hospital. Managing multiple patients with multiple medical problems, you need to keep everything straight and what you write down will help you manage your patient care throughout the shift. A clipboard can often be overlooked as a necessary piece of equipment. It is always helpful to have a backboard when you’re doing CPR right? The same thing goes for writing! Clipboards make a great backboard. But why get a regular clipboard when you can get a smart one? The Nurse Assist clipboard is a regular clipboard comes equipped with a built-in clock, a timer, an alarm, as well as a calculator. If you don’t have a smartwatch, this can really help you with various tasks throughout your shift. In addition, the clipboard itself has printed diagnostic and assessment guidelines such as pressure ulcer stages, cranial nerves, EKG interpretation, and pupil assessment – among other helpful guides.
While the Leatherman Raptor Shears are not necessarily electronic, they are still a great tool and piece of nurse tech which can help you throughout your shift. I once owned a beautiful pair of these shears and they worked amazingly. While somewhat pricey, they were able to cut through anything. Additionally, it has a strap cutter, a ring cutter, an oxygen tank wrench, and a carbide-tip glass breaker capable of breaking standard glass. As you can tell, these tools are perfect for emergency first responders but I also found the shears to be perfect for the emergency department. Sadly, I lost them during a busy shift – never to be seen again – RIP.
The Apple Pencil, in my opinion, is easily the best stylus out there. I have personally used many styluses – regular, Bluetooth, pressure-sensitive… none compare to the Apple Pencil. The pencil is pressure-sensitive, fine-point, and just feels natural. Writing on an iPad with the apple pencil looks and feels as though you are writing on a piece of paper – without wasting the actual paper. Not only that, writing digitally gives you the opportunity to make everything nice and neat, and be able to digitally organize your writings. What good is writing down your patient’s history if you can’t read it?! In class, this is perfect for taking notes. There are multiple note-taking applications, with many different features including recording audio which you can attach to your specific notes. Additionally, you can add photos, drawings, videos, and streamline your notes across all of your devices with the apps like One Note, Evernote, or my personal favorite Notability. Within the hospital, you can use the apple pencil in combination with an iPad in a few different ways. Sure, you can write down notes and basic things you learn from your shift. You can also be able to make patient care templates and write down your “brain sheets” on the iPad instead of wasting paper. This can really help you stay organized – you can try out my FREE patient care organization sheets here! Just be sure to run it by your supervisor and hospital IT/security before adding patient-information to a personal device. There may be rules and regulations, or specific guidelines to follow such as deleting the information daily or leaving the device connected to the hospital network while patient information is still on the iPad. A big downfall of the Apple Pencil is that it currently only works with the iPad Pro series and the new 6th generation iPad.
Smart Water Bottle
Nurses have a tendency to put the needs of their patients above their own. We’re hungry, thirsty, and holding our bladders while we simultaneously feed, hydrate, and help our patient’s use the bathroom! It is super important to take care of yourself and your health in order to be able to take care of your patient’s needs as well. The Hidrate Spark 2.0 is a smart water bottle which glows to reminds you when you need to drink to stay hydrated. It connects to a smartphone app to track your water intake as well. Additionally, reviewers love the quality of the water bottle and state even without the Bluetooth technology it is worth the cost.
The 3M Littmann 3100 Electronic stethoscope is relatively expensive but if you can afford it – this can be a great gadget to aid in your patient care. With this digital stethoscope, you can adjust the audio to be able to hear heart, lung, or bowel sounds with ease. Become a master at murmurs, or a lung-sound linguist – even in a loud ER department! With ambient noise reduction technology, you are able to pick up on even the slightest auscultatory abnormality. This nurse tech claims to remove 85% of the surrounding noise. Forget counting the apical heart rate – this stethoscope includes a backlit LCD screen which displays the heart rate for you. It has both a bell mode for lower-pitched sounds and a diaphragm mode for higher-pitched sounds. There is a newer 3200 version, but this is not available on Amazon. The major difference between these versions is that the newer version does offer a recording-feature connected to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth, whereas the 3100 version does not. Whether you are a student, a Nurse, a Nurse Practitioner, a Physician Assistant, or a Physician – these new pieces of technology can be a creative addition to your arsenal. Whichever clinical setting you rock, rock this tech and really improve your clinical skill and organization.