Is Technology At The Bedside An Asset Or A Hindrance?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

The influx and popularity of technology within the world of healthcare can sometimes overshadow its developing dominance at the bedside. Everything from the electronic health record all the way to real-time point-of-care delivery systems are the wave of the future.

The immediacy, convenience and potential for seamless care cannot be ignored. But is this technology all good? Could the technology be impeding the care nurses give?

The introduction of technology to the bedside is unarguably changing the delivery of care, but is it all progressive?

Not many will argue that the delivery of our care has to change with the changing patient population. Patients are living longer and often beating some of the worst illnesses, and we are faced with new and more virulent strains of illness. So the advancement of technology has better prepared us to keep doing the best job we can.

But is the technology itself creating a new barrier between the nurse and the patient that never existed before? The barrier of impersonal interaction that has cropped up in our social circles may become prevalent at the bedside.

With the advent of social media platforms, we spend less time conversing with real human beings and more time staring at our impersonal and non-human screens of technology. Is the technology at the bedside distancing nurses from their patients? Instead of nurses giving that personal attentive care that includes the power of touch, are nurses resorting to their screens of technology?

Some are of the opinion that newer nurses have welcomed the technology with open arms, because that’s all they have ever known. Newer nurses have never learned to appreciate the potent healing power of the human hand.

Others claim that seasoned nurses are (maybe) threatened or simply overwhelmed by the brute-forced wave of technology. Seasoned nurses just don’t understand how the immediate connectivity and education available at a patient’s fingertips is the true definition of patient advocacy.

So, is technology friend or foe? Why or why not?

Is there a happy medium? Or are we destined to sacrifice the power of touch for the power of the touch screen?

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. Bedside computer takes the focus away from the patient and they feel like the nurse spends more time with the computer than with them.

  2. Agree, that Nursing is no longer practiced as I was taught 34 years ago. I would NOT want to be a patient in this day and age of nursing. Now days, it is more about the computer, customer service and making the hospital organization happy. I’m ready to retire and believe me, I will do my best to stay out of a hospital. I saw first hand how nursing is no longer about patient bedside care when my family members had to be hospitalized. We didn’t see the staff (Aides, Nurse, etc) except maybe once or twice a day. Bad!

    • Totally agree and patient’s and family’s are not happy either, they all the nurses, in their opinion “sitting at the nurses station on computers “ and their perceptions are that we are playing on the computers, little do they know that this is now a mandatory part of nursing and that as nurses we would prefer to be spending our time at the bedside taking care of the patients, however hospitals dictates and demands all this computer documentation which definitely has taken nurses away from the patients and the patients and families are NOT happy about it, often complaining about the nurses and we are only doing our job

  3. I was an OR nurse for 35 years and decided to retire early because the computer became more important than the pt. The only pt contact I had was that which is mandated by law for an RN to perform: interview, counts, meds. I no longer could hold a scared pts hand as they were given anesthesia. The assistants (which were CSTs) did all the pt care. Positioning, prepping, attaching monitoring devices, assisting anesthesia etc. The circulating nurse became nothing more than a gofer and glorified secretary. I loved my job but I hated what it had become. After 35 years my Hospital didn’t even care enough about me or my opinions to offer me an exit interview. Now because of insurance coverage I am forced to go there as the patient. Heaven help us all!

  4. I completely concur with the premise nursing has lost something healing, personal and unique with the advent of the bedside computer recording of patient standing and care. I was hospitalized for seven days following the placement of two stents, one in the abdominal aorta and another in the right femoral artery… it was one of the scariest times of my entire life. Had my youngest son not been there to be my advocate, I would not be here today. Literally. The absence of care was that real and that shocking. I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree with a nursing major when I was fifty-five years young and had the privilege of being a member of the nursing staff at the Mayo Clinic for eleven years followed by thirteen years in my home state in the far West where I had returned secondary to my love of the outdoors, especially mountain climbing. During my 24 years as a nurse, I can honestly say I never had a boring shift –every single day was interesting . By the time I retired, nursing was making some sad changes and becoming obsessively focused on computer charting to the very real loss of interaction and communication between staff and patient. Sad to see the undeniable decline everywhere in what used to be awesome nursing care.

  5. A patient who holds your hand, strokes your hand, and says I’m so glad you’re here; I feel better knowing you are here – is the patient nurses have entered the field to care for. They need you, a person, to make them “better” – not the machine they have no interaction with.

  6. As the saying goes, “times they are a changing” and I also feel not for the better. Nursing is becoming impersonal and unfortunately the nurses have to chart “real time”. They not only know no better but are being told by management to do nursing this way so management can receive their proper reinbursements especially if they are a magnet facility. They may have 4 year degrees but they haven’t a clue as to what nursing used to be about. As a dinosaur nurse I can honestly say paper charting was better for myself and the patient but on a management level computer nursing is more beneficial to those on upper levels.
    Sorry for you experience but I predict things will only become worse. Particularly since us dinosaurs are saying “no mas no mas” and leaving the field

  7. Tecnology is great as the article mentioned BUT bring it bedside does indeed take away the personalization and bonding between patient, patient family and the nurse. Unfortunately the nurse becomes too busy manipulating the computer between scanning and clicking appropriate responses and free form charting that more time than not the patient lies in bed waiting for this whole production to be done and quite honestly whole does this benefit other that upper management and financial reimbursement. The young nurses don’t know any better. They don’t know about healing touch and communication. That is why we dinosaurs are no longer required nor wanted in the hospital’s sad but true. All I can advise anyone who is unfortunate to have to stay in a hospital no matter haw low the stay is that you or some becomes your advocate. Always have someone who asks questions and if you get ignored or don’t don’t an answer you are satisfied with then demand to speak to someone else. New nurses are now being trained to keep their heads in the computer and today they barely make eye contact. Treat the patient NOT the machine..

    • Jude,
      Just to add to what you said… a dinosaur too, I remember going and saying hello to my patients immediately after receiving report so they would know who their nurse would be for that shift. Nowadays, you don’t see a nurse or PCT until you need meds or vitals. When the charge nurse came in at one point, she barely looked at me – she positioned her computer at the foot of my bed and kept her back to me. i couldn’t believe it! My whole hospital stay was like that and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

  8. I spent nearly a week in the hospital last year for a UC flare. I was anemic, dehydrated and weak. My overall quality of nursing care was terrible; not only did I rarely see a nurse (even though i had a problematic IV which I was taking care of myself), but when I did, he/she was more interested in her mobile computer than her patient in the bed. I haven’t practiced nursing in many years but the care I received was nothing like the care I provided. While technology is great, it seems like it’s hindered the heart of nursing.


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