The purpose of innovation in nursing is to improve the quality of care delivered and to reduce the associated risks.
The definition of innovation must be broad enough to include not only innovations that are brought about by changes in technology, but also change made through social, cultural, or behavioral factors. Innovation may also include improvements made through modification or development of new skills and knowledge which allow for better care outcomes.
Innovation has been described as a way to provide high-quality care at lower costs while decreasing risk factors. It is defined as a process in which new ideas are generated from individual and organizational levels that are used in new processes, products, methods, and so on.
Innovation in nursing can be defined as the development of new knowledge, tools, and processes to improve healthcare services.
Nursing innovation is complex and multifaceted. Innovation includes both process and product innovation.
Process innovation means that the key components of care are improved while product innovation refers to new products that have been developed from existing processes. The boundaries between process and product innovation can be blurry.
Innovation in nursing occurs at many levels, including individual, team, unit, organization, and societal levels.
However, most innovation occurs at the level of individuals.
Innovation in nursing can be seen as similar to research. The difference between innovation and research is that innovation involves practical change resulting in better care outcomes as medical science advances knowledge and technology changes. Innovation should not be confused with invention or discovery which involves scientific investigation but does not necessarily result in better outcomes for patients.
l The current state of practice – the way tasks are currently carried out by nurses provides an opportunity for new processes to be developed
l Economic factors – commercial factors such as increased hospital costs, decreased funding available for nursing programs, or increasing competition from private sector nurses
l Technological change – advances in technology such as increased use of computers and better access to information
l Social factors – changing social values, changes in the work environment
l Cultural factors – differences between groups of patients and their caregivers
l Demographic factors – the aging of society and the increased number of older people
l Legal factors – the increased focus on risk management and better patient requirements for evidence-based treatments
Nurses innovate through the lens of a healthcare organization. Nursing innovation helps the organization and nurses achieve their goals. Nurses can access their own knowledge, skills, and competence to develop innovative approaches, tools and processes by using various methods including:
l Self-reflection through critical reflection about practice – this involves an examination of nurses’ own practice situation in terms of nurses’ personal beliefs and values and how these are reflected in their actions
l Education – this involves the formation of nursing knowledge, application of theory and applying knowledge to new situations in the context of clinical practice or research. This is typically done through teaching, training, and continuing education
l Research – involves the collection, organization, and synthesis of data so they are analyzable. Organized in a research question, or problem statement. These questions are then translated into approaches, methods, and procedures that can be used to answer the research question
l Planning and organization – involves the formulation of a plan based on research questions and goals for an innovation project. This may include reviewing the literature on the topic and information from experts in related fields to make data-driven decisions about which research findings should be used as a basis for developing an innovation
l Implementation – involves either carrying out innovation by implementing it in clinical practice or evaluating it by determining how well it has worked.
The inability to generate new knowledge and experience has been an issue in healthcare. The lack of research into the patient-provider relationship and discontinuities in the healthcare system have been known characteristics, making it difficult to deliver care in complex and inconsistent settings.
The delivery of healthcare has changed over the years as technology advances, along with changes in our society, including demographic changes (e.g., aging population) that affect the needs and expectations of healthcare services.
Innovation is not just limited to technological advances – it can also make better use of existing skills or products by addressing issues that are relevant to patients’ needs or changing patterns of care delivery.
Innovation in nursing can also be seen in the changing focus of nurse training.
Nursing learners seek to be prepared to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing healthcare environment.
Students tend to prefer a more holistic approach, focusing on health promotion, healing relationships, and addressing patients’ emotional needs.
Future students may want to explore or contribute towards environmental issues such as climate change, sustainability, and others. They may also want to contribute to defining new health models with an emphasis on enhancing wellness.
Teaching methods vary between universities and schools of nursing around the country.
Some may include lectures, case studies, online platforms for students to have access to information, written exams, and clinical observation skills testing (preliminary tests or skills exams which are used to determine a student’s suitability for additional training or educational opportunities).
An example of professional nursing organizations is the American Nurses Association (ANA).
The organization helps nurses through continuing education and research. The ANA collects and evaluates data on nursing practice; sets standards for nursing education; and supports members to advocate for changes in laws, regulations, and policies that affect the health of citizens.
Whether you are a practicing family nurse practitioner in Texas or an OBGYN Nurse in Boston, the ANA helps guide your practice and ensures you are staying up to date. The organization also provides healthcare professionals with the support they need to be successful in their field.
The following factors have influenced healthcare over the past decade:
l Increased patient expectations and growing needs for healthcare services have increased pressure on nurses and increased the complexity of patient care.
l A changing scope of practice has increased the demand for more nurses with advanced skills, particularly in specialized areas such as palliative care and neonatal nurse practitioners.
l Increased demand for nursing services means there is greater competition for qualified practitioners, which can put upward pressure on wages.
l Nurses are being asked to do more with less money and resources, as a result of rising healthcare costs and budget cuts.
Healthcare is becoming increasingly concerned with how care delivery can be improved in the future.
The above-mentioned factors have led to a demand for new healthcare solutions in order to meet the increased needs of our society.
l Robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence – These can be used to provide more efficient care in different settings. Robots are used in hospitals and nursing homes with the aim of improving safety. Automation has been applied in UK hospitals, with some nursing tasks being replaced by artificial intelligence and robotics that can monitor patient health and alert nurses if it detects a problem.
l Nanotechnology, biotechnology, genomics and cell therapy – These are being used to improve healthcare services. For example, nanoparticles can be used to reduce drug resistance and improve the delivery of drugs or genes.
l Social networking and health monitoring – This can be applied to promote better mental health and prevent disease. For example, apps can help people manage their diet or monitor symptoms for conditions such as pregnancy or heart disease.
The pressure on budgets has led to a shift from long-term care services (which require long-term commitments) towards hospital-based services.
There is now an increased focus on prevention and keeping people out of hospitals (referred to as ‘out of hospital care’).
This has resulted in a change in the way care is delivered and how we manage conditions, with a focus on the early detection of ill health.
The changes are fueling the need to identify new options in healthcare, as traditional models are facing increased demand for resources (either because of higher costs or declining revenues).
Healthcare must also adapt to meet the changing needs of our society.
Nursing innovation is a continuous process, as nurses will continue to change and improve their practice. To stay relevant in today’s healthcare environment, nursing has to question why it is providing certain care and be willing to change its current practice.
Clinical practice guidelines outline how healthcare professionals should deliver care based on evidence of best practices.
By applying these guidelines, nurses can work together with other health professionals, communities, and systems to provide healthcare that is safe and effective.
This provides a framework for practicing nurses to document what they are doing at any given time as well as enabling them to seek guidance if they need more assistance in the future.