Nursing Technology: A New Place for RNs To Share Their Expertise 

Nurses expanding from bedside to corporate, even to nursing technology

Nurses are known for their compassionate bedside manner and ability to advocate for patients.  While some nurses enjoy the clinical responsibilities, others like the idea of leadership roles where they manage people and projects.  The expanse of nursing jobs has taken some nurses out of the hospital and into the corporate sector, some into nursing technology.   

A Nurse’s Journey – From Clinical to Corporate 

Take Molly K. McCarthy, MBA, RN-BC, National Director, Provider Industry & CNO with Microsoft US Health and Life Sciences. McCarthy is responsible for business development and strategy with clients that include heath system providers, health plans and life science companies 

So, how did she get here? 

technology nursing

Prior to working for Microsoft, McCarthy spent her clinical years in a neonatal intensive care unit. Eventually she left her scrubs behind to pursue a medical device company that manufactured hearing screening devices and jaundice management devices for newborns.  

 McCarthy sees more of these doors opening up in the nursing profession.   “Because of technology, there are many [corporate] job opportunities for nurses. It just depends where you want to work and what your passions are.” 

Nurses interested in tech-savvy nursing jobs can specialize in their chosen interest, whether it’s a role in pediatrics or transplant nursing technology, McCarthy said.  That’s because more health-tech companies realize they can leverage the clinical skillset of nurses. 

 “It’s becoming more common to hire nurses,” McCarthy said. 

Recruiters could take this golden opportunity to diversify their client list, since it’s not just hospitals and skilled nursing facilities that hire nurses.  According to McCarthy, nurses understand the clinical and operational challenges of healthcare arena, something that uniquely positions nurses interested in pursuing high-tech companies. 

“Technology and medical device companies benefit from employing nurses and clinicians as subject matter experts.  Nurses can contribute to many different areas including product development, clinical education and product deployment.” 

Current State of Affairs 

McCarthy has her hands in several COVID19 projects that use technology to extrapolate data in ways that helps healthcare facilities improve processes or facilitate the procurement of necessary equipment and supplies. 

“Microsoft is working to implement several solutions for the COVID-19 response, like the patient and family virtual connection. And we just launched an initiative with American Hospital Association and Kaiser around securing more PPE for healthcare workers.”  

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Microsoft developed a health bot for hospitals to share on their Homepage, said McCarthy. The bot works like a virtual assistant that patients can use 24/7 whether they exhibit symptoms from the common cold to a cardiac event. 

“It’s a self-checker for hospitals to post on their website. It’s designed to go through questions with patients by using artificial intelligence (AI) generated questions.” 

Based on how patients respond, the bot then prioritizes symptoms to determine whether patients are at risk and need to visit the hospital for a hands-on assessment to determine their current state of health.  

At the initial time of release, the health bot was not getting much traction.  That is, until now.  “We released a health bot a year ago in preview mode. And with a lot of these tools, organizations were not hard pressed to adopt, but during COVID-19, they moved quickly to adopt, which includes the CDC using our bot.” 

 Today, over 1200 organizations use Microsoft Healthbot. 

As new technology is rolled out, the challenge for companies like Microsoft, and any company moving into a clinical healthcare space, requires educating the end user—whether it’s the patient or clinician who uses it.  Bottom line, the benefits must be tangible before true adoption can take place. 

  • “We must help clinicians learn how to use the technology and understand how technology makes an impact by improving clinical and financial outcomes.  High tech allows high touch so that we can get back into conversations with the patients.” 

 Fast forward to March 2020 when COVID-19 headlines around the world revealed the rapid spread of the disease. Eventually Microsoft’s handy health bot launched in Copenhagen—at a time when call volumes spiked at emergency call centers already at full capacity. Thanks to the health bot, it helped ease the burden in call centers while prioritizing patient care needs. 

Reskilling: Hello Corporate Career 

Microsoft is committed to helping nurses improve their marketability for jobs in the tech sector through different programs and partnerships with other organizations.  

“We are helping nurses reskill on the use and ability of tech through our AI for Business School and our work with the American Hospital Association course, AI for Health, to be released this summer.” 

She also said the company wants nurses to offer ideas for other upcoming projects that would allow nursing technology to drive improvements in healthcare. 

“We are also seeking input into the design and development of technology solutions during our upcoming virtual hackathon, NurseHack4Health: COVID-19, in a joint effort with Johnson and Johnson, SONSIEL and DevUp.”