The Internet of Things (IoT) has made workplaces more connected and ‘smarter’ with new technologies designed to work together to make almost every task easier. We no longer live in an era where we need to physically go and turn on the air conditioning or unlock our doors with a key. Now everything is in the process of being automated and done at the push of a button via an app on a smart device. These new technologies have made their mark the medical world, where they have been a source of amazing discoveries and developments in terms of patient care and testing procedures, but they can also pose new workplace risks. So how do IoT and similar technologies impact the professionals who have to use them and how can any new risks posed by them be mitigated?
Occupational Health Solutions for Nurses and Physicians
Health technologies change on an almost continual basis, but now more than ever there is a trend towards a streamlined approach which is designed to cut costs and make the entire patient process more efficient from admission to release. Artificial intelligence has quickly been adopted within apps and programs used to regulate medications and remind both nurses and patients when it is time for their next dose. Voice activated technologies are also being coded into programs used for everyday operations such as searching for a patient’s digital record or beginning the screening process using an MRI.
It is undeniable that these new technologies are working to decrease morbidity and mortality but there are certain things that need to be considered outside of the myriad benefits provided to patients and professionals alike. The primary cause for concern with anything that is automated is that something can go wrong and it often does. Health care workers can be put at serious risk if they are not trained to use these new technologies, interpret the data outputs correctly, or even give the wrong voice command. The safety and security of all health professionals is of utmost importance as they are the ones who are ultimately going to provide the care every person will need in their lifetime. Fortunately, incident management software and health & safety software can be utilized to protect health care workers from the technologies designed to make their jobs easier.
Just as factory workers need to be trained in how to work the new robotic machines that work on manufacturing lines, health care workers need to be trained on new technologies. This is not simply for their own safety but for the safety of the patients as well. Medical trends, regulations, and worker absences are just some of the factors that need to be considered during the introduction of new technologies. Occupational health software itself has the ability to have training modules input into the system so that employees can access them and complete them from their own personal portals. As well, if certain employees are absent on a training day this can be noted in the system so that they can be trained as soon as they return to avoid using equipment incorrectly. Now let’s take a look at an example of why training has to be a priority to avoid any occupational health missteps.
Nurses and Some Common Occupational Health Hazards
Nurses are a critical component when it comes to the health care delivery system. They are always on the forefront of an emergency, providing palliative care, and assisting in daily activities from operations to record keeping. With so many different tasks expected of them they are often the ones who encounter biological and physical hazards.
Voice activation is slowly becoming one of the key features in how health-related technologies can be put into motion by healthcare staff. But this has the potential to cause some major problems. While voice activated medical record keeping has become fairly normalized, it is still subject to some kinks such as mis-recordings or the input of incorrect medical terminology. Another facet that can cause errors is when treatment is automated and an alert pops up that says it is time for a patient to receive their medication. If nurses are not trained to use these properly they may be recording the wrong information or even administering incorrect drugs which can be a major hazard to patients and to themselves depending on the area they are working in. If a psychiatric nurse is told to administer a certain amount of an anti-psychotic drug to a patient and the dose is wrong or the drug itself is incorrect, they could be risking the health and safety of the patient and those around them.
Hazards of an MRI
Voice activated systems can also put nurses in harm’s way when it comes to equipment. Think about when it is time for a patient to undergo an MRI. Nothing in the room can be metal as it emits a magnetic field. If systems are not put in place to protect nurses and the wrong voice command is issued, there could be a chance that the MRI exam begins before they have left the room. This means that if there is any metal on their body in the form of pens, keys, or lanyards that they could be put at great risk when the MRI is turned on. All of the metal could fly off of their body towards the machine which could cause bodily harm to their person and the patient.
Concerns with Lab Testing
Clinicians who work as phlebotomists testing organic samples may find themselves working next to a robot designed to make the testing process more efficient. These robots can be instructed to work alongside them to run samples through a centrifuge or even perform simple tests. But once more there is room for error here. If a clinician has not been trained on how to effectively program the robot to perform its tasks or learned what kind of daily maintenance is necessary then the chance of malfunction increases ten-fold. If a spill from biohazardous waste takes place then the entire lab can be put at risk which can create an occupational health nightmare for all involved.
Enter Occupational Health Software
With technology providing automation of services and with the health industry quickly moving towards digitization of everything from chatbots designed to assess symptoms, to robotic lab help, and health apps that can create specific patient care plans it is necessary to use a software system that can help combat any foreseen and unforeseen occupational health problems. Software is just another facet of this move towards a streamlining of services and it can actively help to provide occupational health solutions should there be an equipment malfunction or a piece of automated tech that goes haywire.
Here is What OH Software Can Do for You
An employee profile can be created for every health care worker down to those involved with the sterilization of equipment. Once a profile has been created, absences can be tracked and if needed an alternate employee can be alerted by the system that they are needed on shift, in what ward, and so forth.
Now here is the truly revolutionary part. Health trends across the state or country can be tracked to see which pieces of equipment are experiencing recalls, or have seen increased incidents so that action plans can be created or adapted to suit future needs. When an incident does occur, it can be included in the trend report to monitor the situation within the health care setting itself to see if there is an equipment problem or a lack of training amongst a certain rotation of workers. If an area that has seen an increased amount of health incidents is flagged, occupational health managers can quickly see which employees were on shift, who filed the incident report and if any similar ones have occurred in other branches. These trends are what help to mitigate risk by preparing for any eventuality.
Maintaining Regulatory Compliance
Another item that can majorly affect staff and protocols regarding technology, equipment, and procedures are changing regulations. A regulatory compliance officer can be in charge of all of these and then send out releases to employees with the pertinent information. But ultimately humans are fallible and making sure that all information makes it in front of all the eyes it needs to can be a difficult task. OH software provides an occupational health solution for this much needed process. It actively tracks regulatory requirements which means that occupational health workers can be alerted as soon as there is a change. All workers need to do is login to their personal portal and they will have all the information they need regarding changes, new training opportunities to learn about how these changes will affect their jobs, and whether or not certain practices may need to be discontinued due to these.
All the Essentials
Occupational health solutions are created on an ongoing basis just as health technologies are constantly being created and modified. In order for hospitals, clinics, and labs to utilize technologies that are voice activated or tech designed to take over simple tasks normally performed by human hands, training needs to become a priority. Software is the key to ensuring that every process to keep employees healthy and safe is institutionalized and if an incident does occur processes are in place to immediately address it and hopefully prevent future ones. Don’t let new technologies create problems that they are supposed to be helping with. Keep staff informed, regulatory practices up to date, and always provide training for all staff who may be even peripherally involved with new tech now in rotation.