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The Technological Explosion

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The rapid growth in information technology has already had a radical impact on health care delivery and the education of nurses. Advances in processing capacity and speed, the development of interactive user interfaces, developments in image storage and transfer technology, changes in telecommunications technology, and the increased affordability of personal computers have contributed to the explosion of information technology applications. Advances in digital technology have increased the applications of telehealth and telemedicine, bringing together patient and provider without physical proximity. Nanotechnology will introduce new forms of clinical diagnosis and treatment by means of inexpensive handheld biosensors capable of detecting a wide range of diseases from miniscule body specimens.

Dramatic improvements in the accessibility of clinical data across settings and time have improved both outcomes and care management. The electronic medical record will replace traditional documentation systems. Through the Internet, consumers will be increasingly armed with information previously available only to clinicians. Electronic commerce will become routine for transacting health care services and products.

Nurses of the 21st century need to be skilled in the use of computer technology. Already, distance learning modalities link students and faculty from different locales and expand the potential for accessible continuing professional education. Technically sophisticated preclinical simulation laboratories will stimulate critical thinking and skill acquisition in a safe and user-friendly environment. Faster and more flexible access to data and new means of observation and communication are having an impact on how nursing research is conducted.

Reprinted with permission from the National League of Nursing