Nurses have embraced new media and digital technologies with varying degrees of enthusiasm since well before the turn of the century.
Some nurses and nursing organizations utilize blogs, podcasts, social media and video as platforms for health promotion, entrepreneurship, leadership and career development. Such technologies can continue to be harnessed for the good of the nursing profession and the healthcare ecosystem in general.
In the beginning
As the early days of the digital revolution took hold, a small cohort of nurses took to the "blogosphere" along with members of other professions and industries.
In the first few years of the 21st century, nursing blogs were not as ubiquitous as they are today, but certain nurses took it upon themselves to become self-appointed nurse journalists reporting from both inside and outside the healthcare system. Likewise, some early adopters in nursing and healthcare also embraced podcasting, social media and YouTube as a means to communicate with colleagues and a wider public.
It was like the Wild West back then, and many aspects of the Internet have since been codified and organized in ways we could not even dream of in 2005. In many respects, the marriage of digital technology and nursing was inevitable. History has supported the notion that such technologies have greatly enhanced myriad aspects of communication surrounding health and healthcare delivery.
As of this writing, a plethora of nursing organizations, hospitals, health insurance companies and other corporate entities employ various forms of digital media for the purposes of branding, marketing and outreach.
Savvy 21st-century healthcare organizations harness the power of LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms as a means of communication and content marketing. Recruitment of candidates can also be enhanced through the constructive and innovative use of electronic media.
Nurse entrepreneurs also dig deep into social media, podcasting, vlogging and blogging to propel their message and reach wider audiences.
Healthcare organizations and business people that ignore the importance of a powerful online presence lose a great deal in the process, including market share.
The (digital) education of the public
Educating the public through electronic and digital media is paramount in the 21st century. With a growing number of people accessing information through the use of their smartphones, the importance of mobile-friendly websites and apps for reaching the public with specific health-related messages cannot be overstated.
Healthcare consumers have become increasingly savvy, and the organizations who serve them must stay one step ahead in terms of developing captivating online content that cuts through the noise and delivers useful and actionable information. Websites based on designs from 2001 are not going to hold the attention of intelligent consumers who have grown used to highly interactive, mobile-friendly websites and apps.
If the healthcare community wishes to continue to garner the trust and attention of the public, digital technologies and media must be utilized powerfully and effectively.
Tech innovation and healthcare jobs
In terms of jobs and professional development, digital technologies and media offer nurses and other healthcare professionals unprecedented opportunities.
The critical importance of healthcare informatics cannot be denied. Nurses and other professionals are doubling down on these technologies by seeking graduate degrees related to informatics leadership and technology innovation.
Schools like Ohio State University are harnessing the power of tech by creating on-campus incubators for innovation, and chief innovation officer is now becoming a more common title in executive suites. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics and other innovations are certain to have an enormous impact on the healthcare space in the years to come.
Nurses on the bandwagon
Individual nurses and the profession as a whole would be well served by paying attention to the ways in which technology continues to transform the healthcare environment. Whether it's artificial intelligence, robotics or app development, nurses and other healthcare professionals can be on the forefront of innovation.
About the Author
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, has been a nurse since 1996. He is the blogger behind the award-winning blog, Digital Doorway and a widely read freelance nurse writer. Keith is also the co-host of RNFM Radio, a popular Internet radio station devoted to the nursing profession.
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