A day in the life of...

AN EXCITING ADDITION TO THE DELIVERY OF NURSING CARE

It is Monday morning a few years into the future. You are a practice nurse in a busy health practice. You do have a case load of clients you care for but because of your professional utilization of technology, these clients are mainly cared for in their own homes.

Your typical day maybe something like this:-

Log on to your desk top and go into the website you developed on Diabetes. All your clients from your diabetes database have access to this. It allows clients to email you, chat with each other and for you to include latest research on Diabetes and also tips on how to manage the condition. It also contains links to other relevant websites. In fact you have set up websites for your cancer clients, those with heart and respiratory problems and also your older clients. You have identified that utilizing technology like this empowers clients and encourages self management of care. This website has expanded now into a community where there is also a section for family member, offering support and information to them on how best to assist their family member and also to obtain support for themselves. You have discovered that this has helped in developing a more educated and enabled community.

Next you check your personal digital assistant for emails. You had sent a query to your colleague in the Cardiac ward yesterday asking for clarification of a medication regime of a client who was discharged yesterday. By working together and providing seamless care, re-admittance to hospital will be either reduced or will not need to happen. Also professional relationships and communications are strengthened.

A colleague who is new to the idea of technology arrives to discuss his difficulties delivering care to a client when there is no body. Just then the triage phone rings with a client whose husband has a sore chest. Loading the algorithm which will allow you to provide triage advice, you are able to educate your colleague on how to deliver care to an invisible body.

In the afternoon, you make contact with patients. They all have a TVx in their homes. This consists of a box like a DVD recorder placed under their television. Attached to this box are leads which are able to record: weight, blood sugar levels, pulse, blood pressure and spirometer and a video through which you can see them and chat. You also have all current health records loaded on your PDA which you have there in front of you to refer to as your consultation progresses. Through the interactive video system your patient may contact you by email and arrange for a video consultation with you, to address a problem e.g. how to change a dressing, how to give an insulin injection or discuss some symptom which they need clarification on.

Your last appointment in the afternoon is with a small multimedia group to design a virtual reality program of the local spinal injury unit. This will allow those who have suffered spinal injuries and are in hospital, to visit the spinal unit they are being transferred to : walk through the hallways, visit the lounges, meet the staff and listen to some of the positive stories of the patients who have been there a while. A streaming video is also being developed which includes information on.

As you leave your office you feel excited and satisfied that time has allowed you to offer an excellent service to so many patients and such a wide variety.

This then is ehealth

ehealth is proving to be a major paradigm shift in the provision of health information and health care internationally. Its introduction is rising rapidly. This innovative approach to the delivery of health information and health care is being recognized globally as enhancing quality, accessibility, accuracy, cost effectiveness, equity and efficiency in the delivery of health information and health care. With the New Zealand Health Care System now focusing on empowerment of consumers by encouraging self management of health, and a concentrated approach to health care outcomes, long established ways of delivering health information and care are being challenged. As a consequence of this there is constant exploration in the field to discover new and innovative ways to provide significant improved health service to a wider section of the population. This must be managed within the constraints of the available health dollar.

ehealth may be utilized in both urban and rural communities around New Zealand. There are a large number of communities that frequently find it difficult to access health information and care. These may be clients living in isolated areas, parents at home with young children or those elderly who for personal reasons are only able to access very infrequent care. As well, there are health professionals who need current information or advice relating to a client being cared for or who wish to ensure seamless care for the client by keeping all members of the team informed about progress. The provision of ehealth tools will enable these communities and health professionals, regardless of geographical location, time of day and personal circumstances, to achieve better health care. As we move through today we shall see how ehealth can support families and clients to be active participants in care, particularly in the self management of chronic illness. It also enables the nurse to provide accurate and timely information online. Continuity of care is enhanced by encouraging frequent contacts between health care provides and individual clients and their families.

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