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Compassionate care is a big part of what we do as nurses. Our job has always been to help both patients and their families. We listen to questions and concerns, explain details of treatments and procedures, and lend support in many other ways. We have extensive skill sets in the health sciences, as well as coordination and organization skills that we use to help others. As our patients’ advocates, our connection with them is likely why nurses are consistently ranked one of the most-trusted professions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses may feel cut off from patients. For safety reasons, they may not be able to stay in the room with patients or may have to limit their time together. Masks can hide facial expressions and even transparent faceguards can inhibit ability to make good eye contact. At the same time, patients’ support systems can be limited by social distancing from their loved ones, which means nurses may need to step in and fill that void as well.
By putting patients first, nurses are risking their own health and safety. And I believe during the pandemic it’s even more difficult to take on this risk because it’s for a period of unknown duration.
But, thanks to those rock-solid components of nursing—compassion, expertise, selflessness—nurses are making it work. They’re finding ways to support patients and families, making remarkable contributions during extraordinary times. I have no doubt nurses will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
What Can Technology Do to Help Nurses?
I’ve been touched by the outpouring of gratitude I’ve seen for nurses—and other essential workers—during this public health crisis. There are many wonderful ways communities are supporting these heroes.
When I think about what technology can do to help nurses, telehealth has been an increasingly important tool for nurses in this era of stay-at-home orders and social-distancing guidelines. Secure systems can help enable those virtual health services.
But perhaps even more importantly, both now and when the crisis is over, I think about the ability of technology to empower nurses with information. Nurses want to understand the trajectory of this disease so they can help respond, recover and prevent the next outbreak. They also want to understand so they can explain it to others.
IBM is responding to COVID-19 in many ways. We are applying data, analytics, artificial intelligence and super-computing power to support health and human services during this difficult time. And these tools will help find insights in the data to answer questions that affect nurses’ day-to-day lives, including:
- How can we strengthen supply chains for more effective delivery of personal protective equipment? Blockchain is already helping enable buyers and suppliers respond to urgent inventory needs through IBM RAPID Supplier Connect.
- Where can we find trusted information about the disease and potential treatments? A complimentary online COVID-19 Resource Catalog offers evidence-based clinical decision support during the pandemic.
- How can we efficiently respond to patient and family questions? IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens, is another tool that healthcare and government agencies are using that can potentially relieve nurses’ workloads by helping respond to a flood of information requests from patients.
These are just a few examples of how technology can support nurses and help them feel more confident about the future.
In recognition of International Nurses Day, IBM wants to thank nurses for continuing to take on this enormous challenge and for, once again and always, doing the work that needs to get done. Words cannot fully express the gratitude we feel for your selfless sacrifices and compassion for others.
Learn more about how IBM can help respond to COVID-19.