Smart Fobs – The Future of the Humble Nurses Watch
Nurses fob watches have been a staple of the uniform for almost as long as anyone can remember, and while the first watches to be flipped upside down and pinned to a white apron may be lost to history, it is clear that the practicality and functionality of those simple designs have remained important to nurses the world over.
While the healthcare industry has progressed in leaps and bounds over the course of the past two centuries, the nurses fob watch remains pretty much as it was. Sure, we’ve moved from analogue to digital in some cases, and new materials such as silicone have replaced metal and leather, but on the face of it, the fob watch is essentially the same piece of equipment it always has been.
However, perhaps all that is about to change. It’s the 21st century, and like so many other areas of the medical professional, technology is beginning to play a huge part in the evolution of the humble nurse's watch. Today, smartwatches are able to complete complex functions that a standard watch could never hope to, bundling together a huge variety of features that could help streamline day-to-day tasks.
Here then, we take a look at what the future might look like for nurses watches and how intelligent tech might change the face of nursing forever.
Smartwatches and Healthcare
Smartwatches are at the very cutting edge of the technological curve. As microchips and circuitry have become ever smaller, the development of miniaturised computers that can be worn on the wrist is like something out of a science fiction novel. They feature all kinds of sensors and instruments that can measure, time, control, and record both digital and real-world events.
What’s more, once part of a larger system, smartwatches can ensure that nurses and other hospital staff are connected at all times, increasing efficiency in hospitals and clinics. The healthcare applications are numerous and exciting for many in the industry, however, there is still a long way to go before they are seen as standard equipment for nurses.
Here are just a few of the ways that smartwatches may be used in the future:
- Notification Systems — Smartwatches can be used for instant notifications from both medical staff and patients. Whether it’s messages regarding staffing problems or notifications when a patient requires medication, receiving the information directly on your wrist can save time and help nurses to be more efficient.
- Messaging Systems — Pagers are widely disliked by healthcare workers since messages often get lost. Of course, smartphones have gone some way to solving this problem, however, they can be awkward and unwieldly when on the job. Like smartphones, smartwatches also provide an archived record of all messages sent ensuring increased responsibility for all staff.
- Patient Updates — Accessing patient updates and other critical information on a personal device that’s conveniently accessible is ideal. Smartwatches can send all the information nurses require instantly, with accurate, real-time updates on patient records always available.
- Vital Signs Monitoring — Smartwatches may have a role to play in the monitoring of patient’s vital signs and threshold alarms. If a patient’s condition changes, real-time notifications can be sent directly to the device.
- Task Management — Managing day-to-day tasks is always challenging for busy nurses. Smartwatches can streamline the process by providing timely notifications of when tasks need to be completed. They can also monitor tasks completed and provide an overview of working processes on any given day.
- Voice Control — Removing the need to complete calculations or enter data using your hands is a great way to maintain hygiene standards and improve efficiency through hands-free operation.
- Instant Access to a World of Knowledge — Of course, smartwatches are connected to the Internet, and having improved access to both general knowledge and hospital or clinic materials ensures everyone is on the same page.
Smartwatches and Nurses
It’s true that the many benefits of smartwatches for nurses are generally directed towards providing better care for patients and increasing productivity in the workplace. However, they also offer benefits to the individual through a variety of health and wellbeing orientated features. Almost all smartwatches today provide monitoring and recording of heart rate, blood pressure, and steps walked, alongside a huge range of apps that encourage mindfulness and other wellbeing-based activities to help support nurses through particularly stressful days.
Smart Fobs and the Future
Today’s smartwatches have so much great technology packed inside their tiny form factors that it’s difficult not to fall in love with them. However, there remains one issue that is hindering mass adoption for nurses and hospitals in general—they must be worn on the wrist for many of the features to work effectively. This, of course, can be problematic when some clinical hygiene standards dictate that nothing must be worn below the elbow.
However, innovation never stands still, and today, smart fobs for nurses are beginning to make waves. Most recently, as part of the 2018 Young Entrepreneur Program 2018, nursing student Jordan Kidd has designed a silicone fob that provides easy access to Apple Watches. The fob can be used as a standalone piece, or in conjunction with a standard strap for the best of both worlds. In the future, Jordan hopes to develop a referencing app that will allow access to useful information such as vital sign ranges, electrolyte levels, and drug calculation formulas to ensure the smart fob is equally as effective as its wrist-worn counterpart.