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Monday, June 24, 2024

AI to Assist with Nursing: Balancing the Benefits with the Challenges

Technology can be transformative – consider how the mobile phone changed how we communicate with friends and family, or how videoconferencing has created a whole new realm of hybrid working opportunities.

For nursing, a highly respected and sought-after profession, how will developments in new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) change how they operate? As the United States continues to experience a change in demographics, as nursing needs, how will new and experienced nurse practitioners, such as AGNP-C qualified practitioners, harness these new technologies to improve the quality of life of their patients? 

As we’ll soon discover, AI presents a unique array of opportunities for nursing practitioners of all fields – although there are risks that even the most seasoned professional must be aware of.

Nursing – A Transforming Profession

Nursing is facing an inflection point in how care is currently offered. The United States is one of many nations experiencing a change in demography – over the past fifteen years, experiencing a decline in the birth rate of more than 20%. This, combined with enhancements in medical treatments and improvements to healthcare more broadly, has resulted in a world where Americans are living longer than ever before, but are having fewer children – resulting in population growth that is largely driven by immigration.

This transformation in demographics will require a rethink of the skills and capabilities required for nurses to succeed in the decades ahead. Research conducted by the Urban Institute, a leading think-tank, found that by 2040, the number of Americans aged 65 or more was expected to double by the end of the next decade

This change will undoubtedly result in a greater need for nursing practitioners who are qualified to work with a range of different age groups, across nursing specializations such as gerontology, as well as facilitators who are capable of working across a flexible range of age groups.

Balancing Act – Managing Nursing Capacity

More and more nurses will be needed to address skills shortages in the decades ahead, that much is clear. The Health Resources and Services Administration projecting significant shortfalls in many nursing specializations for at least the next decade, a figure that many departments agree with.

It will be imperative for hospital administrators to identify ways that they can reallocate manual tasks, such as paperwork, away from practitioners, so they can spend time working on more complex patient issues. For many administrators, it will be important to understand the benefits and challenges of using AI to automate and simplify roles – as well as the legal obligations of record holders under data protection acts such as the HIPAA Act.

Using AI To Manage Patient Records

One such area of nursing that could be supported through the use of AI is the management of patient records. Research conducted on the time that nurses spend on care, administration, and other activities, presented at the American Medical Informatics Association’s Annual Symposium, found that qualified nurses spend approximately 25% of their working day completing administrative tasks, such as intake paperwork.

The research notes that a reduction in time spent on administration paperwork could lead to an improvement in the quality of care that patients receive, highlighting how assistance in documentation may help drive better outcomes. Could patient records be simplified through the use of AI?

Take, for example, a patient who is connected to an array of devices – perhaps they’re connected to a heart rate monitor, regularly being checked on by a nurse, who’s documenting key clinical markers for several hours. While this activity would be time-consuming for a nurse, it’s not an infeasible role for an AI assistant – with nearly a dozen such products being tested in hospitals nationwide, it appears that these may emerge as a new assistive tool for nurses.

A New Realm of Patient Care - AI Personalization

A New Realm of Patient Care – AI Personalization

While America ages, conditions that affect older Americans, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, will continue to become more prevalent in the community. These conditions often have complex care needs – patients may need to go into assisted living and require specialized assistance to get through the day.

In a world where there may not be enough staff available to support patients, the development of virtual AI assistants could provide a new avenue for care for elderly patients. Assistants such as Viv, an AI companion designed to support dementia patients who may not have companionship in aged care facilities, are being trialed in Australia and could provide an opportunity to provide personalized support for patients, without making the role of a nurse practitioner overbearing.

It’s clear that in the decades ahead, America’s nursing sector will have to transform to meet the needs of an aging population. As subtle as these changes may be to patients, understanding how they will impact nursing staff and administrators will be vital to making the most out of these new and innovative technologies.

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HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

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