Technology is only as good as the nurse behind it

telescale_imageA new exercise product came out this week.  The Garmin bicycle pedal actually measures the force of each foot as a rider pedals his/her bicycle and relays power, speed, distance, and even calories burned to a computer unit on the handlebars or an enabled smartphone.  The pedal will retail for about $1700 and connect the user to other people in the network, such as coaches, teammates, or competitive friends who can also monitor the workout.

It’s a continuation of a trend of more products coming out that can monitor a person’s health remotely and send the data back to someone else, such as this one made by Cardiocare that allows a patient can step onto a scale and have readings relayed to Essentia St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth (link here).  The video boasts that they helped a CHF patient avoid a hospital stay and maybe even death after a spike in weight.

What’s missing from the gee-whiz part of the conversation is that there’s a trained nurse on the other side of the data who is looking out for the patient.  That nurse is looking for red flags to determine if the patient is in trouble.  The technology is good, but the gadgets can’t ask questions that can save a patient’s life.  Even the Essentia video above mentions that a nurse had to call the patient at home and ask if they were feeling ok.

As hospitals try to be more efficient and fall for the latest technology, they can’t forget that it’s the trained nurse who’s in charge of a patient’s recovery at the hospital or at home.  Nurses are looking after patients, not toys.