Young female doctor using touch screen interface.

Nursing today is so dependent on technology that a specialization called nursing informatics is beginning to appear. Nurses in general don’t need quite that level of computer skills, but certain technical abilities will increasingly become job requirements even as demand for nurses continues to increase. Here are four areas of technology that nurses must be familiar with to advance in their careers.

1. Electronic Records Management

The switch to electronic systems such as PACS (picture archiving and communication system), along with government mandates for handling patient data (HIPAA) has put more emphasis than ever on records management. Nurses must be able to read and input data from charts, assess clinical documentation, medical insurance, and much more. The transition to digital record keeping systems means nurses must be comfortable working within cloud-based or virtual storage systems for the reliable storage, protection, and retrieval of medical records as needed.

2. Bar Code Systems

Like any other business, healthcare has learned the speed and efficiency of including bar codes on medical supply labels and other documentation for tracking purposes. Patient records and ID bracelets now often include bar codes for quick access to medical records to lookup medications. Nurses must be not only familiar with bar code uses and scanners, but, unlike other industries, also maintain alertness and use their knowledge to prevent potentially life-threatening mistakes.

3. Apps for Nurses

Expertise with specific apps is seldom a job requirement, but it is certainly better for a career and performance that nurses be familiar with using common apps that are being developed as nursing tools. There are apps for tablets and smart phones that can interpret ECG results, identify medications, search medical journals, and many other uses. Nurses starting their careers should be familiar with several apps that can help them better serve their patients and colleagues.

4. Informatics

Nurses who are especially strong in computer skills can often use their talents to fill advanced roles, such as educators or technical leads. Given the emphasis on digital data, nurses capable of not only of managing data, but technical consultation or data analytics may be more in demand. Working nurses can enroll in advanced online master’s in nursing programs with a comprehensive list of courses teaching vital technical skills.

Experienced nurses with advanced degrees will hold key positions with higher salaries. Courses with emphasis on modern healthcare systems, leadership, and organization will prepare students for essential roles in a changing healthcare industry.