5 New Clinical Technologies Nursing Students Should Know About

When it comes to healthcare providers, nurses are known for their hands-on interaction with patients and while there’s no replacement for human eyes and ears, some new clinical technologies are improving and changing parts of the profession. Nursing students will encounter new technologies throughout their studies including things like robotics and augmented reality/virtual reality. But the innovations continue after graduation with groundbreaking advancements in patient care. The following five clinical technologies are changing the landscape of nursing. Read up on these latest updates to learn how they can improve patient care and affect your day-to-day responsibilities.


Remote nursing care has become more popular in the last decade and particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic, interest in telehealth has skyrocketed. Telehealth can be a convenient option for patients who have difficulty traveling, have challenging schedules, or do not want to expose others to a contagious illness. And telehealth can also be a cost effective measure for both patients and healthcare organizations, reducing driving time and lost wages from missing work. Telehealth services can vary greatly depending on the practice and patient needs, but it generally involves virtual tools such as video chats or phone calls, electronic messaging, or other digital platforms such as phone apps. Telehealth nurses can have many roles including managing acute illness (e.g. urgent care), assisting in the management of chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes), providing care coordination during transitions, or supporting patients and families in end-of-life/hospice care. Depending on the situation, telehealth nurses may also be able to monitor certain vital signs remotely. Patients and providers can use devices such as weight scales, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, and blood glucose meters to keep tabs on essential metrics. Telehealth may also reduce provider burnout, by providing a better work-life balance.

Smart Beds

One of the most exciting developments in in-patient care has been the smart bed. Depending on the type and model, these beds can save nurses time by keeping track of important vitals such as patient weight, heart rate, and respiration. Most importantly, the smart beds can prevent falls, which are a serious issue in hospitals. Smart beds can promote safety by telling patients to stay in bed, offering up nightlights, and setting off alarms in certain situations. The beds can also increase patient comfort by reducing bed sores with pressure redistribution systems or using heat and cooling to create the ideal temperature environment. The beds usually have automated commands (e.g. do not get out of bed) and these can usually be adjusted to different languages to reach a wider population of patients. There are also more superficial features to these beds that patients may appreciate such as integrated USB charging ports or device holders. Currently, this emerging technology is mainly limited to large hospitals and intensive care units, but the availability is expected to increase.

Automated IV Pumps

Another important technological advancement is the automated (also called electric) IV pump. Traditionally, patients receive medication and nutrition through a manual infusion pump. With this IV, nurses need to continuously monitor the drip and spend extensive time measuring out correct doses of the fluids or medication. An automated IV pump simplifies the process and greatly reduces the risk of human error, perhaps by as much as 50%. These types of IVs can be used everywhere from the operating room to home care. And in that case, medication, fluid, and nutrition dosage could be overseen by family caregivers. For patients on self-controlled pain management plans, the automated IV simplifies the process by preventing overdoses and errors. Automated IV pumps are also usually equipped with alarms; for example, when there’s a blockage in the tubing. It’s important to note that automated IV pump instructions often vary according to facility, so nurses will often be trained on the job versus in school.

Centralized Command Centers

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, centralized command centers have become essential elements to resource-stretched healthcare facilities. The command centers can assist with real time decisions regarding staffing and available beds, enhance communication and break down silos. This can lead to quicker discharges, when warranted, and more efficient room turnover. The command centers may also allow for the integration of telehealth and remote nursing. For example, on-site nurses may be able to communicate and receive guidance from a provider who’s off-site, but on-call. This can ensure the necessary supervision for nursing staff while providing more flexibility for senior providers. A centralized command center can also assist providers when it comes to following up on a patient’s care after discharge. This is particularly important post-surgery or in the case of chronic conditions. For example, Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C. recently launched a centralized command center to help monitor outpatients with high-risk heart conditions.

Artificial Intelligence

In a paper published by the National Library of Medicine, they define Artificial Intelligence (AI) as “technology that enables a computer system or computer-controlled robot to ‘learn, reason, perceive, infer, communicate, and make decisions similar to or better than humans.” In that same article, they predict that AI will transform healthcare, including nursing practice, in the near future. However, they urge institutions and educators to reform curriculum so that it incorporates AI. To use the tools effectively, nurses need to be able to evaluate its effectiveness and find safe ways to incorporate it. Many nursing programs are already using AI chatbots to create mock patient scenarios for their students. In clinical practice, AI may be used to search through electronic health records and identify patients at high risk; this may be useful in predicting vulnerable individuals in situations such as disease outbreaks. The tool may also prove useful in reducing administrative tasks, allowing nurses to focus more on patient care. Of course AI doesn’t come without ethical and practical questions, but regardless of comfort levels, it seems like it is here to stay.