Revolutionizing Healthcare With AI As A Virtual Nursing Assistant
Posted By : Arpita Pal | 28-Oct-2023
Nursing in healthcare is one of the most mentally and physically demanding jobs that plays a pivotal role in providing patient care. They are responsible for performing essential activities such as administrating medicines, gathering crucial patient data, serving as a medium between the doctor and the patient etc. Due to its strenuous nature, nurses are facing increased burnout and stress which is causing many people to leave the medical industry in hopes of finding a less stressful job. This has been the reason for major staff shortages within hospitals which are already burdened with large amount of patients requiring immediate and prolonged medical care.
To handle such complex situations, the healthcare industry is adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning-based technologies to overcome ongoing challenges and improve the way they deliver patient care.
Artificial Intelligence with its automation and processing abilities is able to analyze a large amount of data sets instantly, perform monotonous tasks endlessly, detect patterns and relationships and provide analytical insights for enhanced decision-making. The healthcare industry is incorporating AI to transform patient care by assisting nursing staff in vital operations such as collecting patient information, monitoring, knowledge support & analytical insights etc. This article delves into how the nursing field can combat shortage and workload problems with AI as a virtual nursing assistant and improve healthcare services as a whole.
Challenges of Nursing in Healthcare
1. Shortage of Staff: The impact of shortages in nursing staff is felt across all parties involved in healthcare, from the hospital to the patient being treated as nurses spend the longest time in taking care of the patient. When the nurse-to-patient ratio becomes highly imbalanced and nurses have to tend to a large number of patients with minimal support, healthcare quality declines steeply. This causes harm to both patients and the nurses where patients are deprived of proper care and timely treatment and for nurses, it leads to physical and mental stress and burnout.
Recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed extreme pressure on healthcare staff that struggled to cater to a large number of sick patients with resources being stretched extremely thin among them. Such an extensive workload caused many nurses and doctors to succumb to illness themselves and many were forced to work despite being sick causing severe problems for them.
2. Unsafe Work Environment: When hospitals are undergoing financial stress and are facing with lack of proper resource management in terms of staff, supplies, disposal etc., it often leads to unsafe work environments for the nursing staff as many have to cater to a large number of sick and contagious patients without proper safety gear. Nurses have to face health hazards in cases where proper training in the management and disposal of biological and chemical elements has not been implemented thoroughly and are left to handle them on their own.
Also, healthcare workers including nurses frequently have to witness traumatic situations such as accidents, death, etc. which takes a heavy mental toll on them. Sometimes it even leads to patientsâ€™ caretakers emotionally charging and assaulting nurses in cases of adverse events which also pose physical and psychological threats to the health of nursing staff.
3. Excessive Workload: Hospitals are usually always facing a heavy footfall of patients for both emergency and OPD units every day where limited healthcare staff often exacerbates the situation. Due to a large number of patients, nurses often have to work for prolonged hours as they are obliged to give sufficient time to each of their patients and perform multiple tasks relating to patient handling within the same day.
This results in nurses cutting their own time for rest and care to complete their responsibilities which gives rise to stress, burnout and various types of illnesses. Extremely long working hours decrease their ability to rest and recover which is further worsened by understaffing.
4. Lack of Organization & Communication: As nursing staff are almost always burdened with responsibilities and are pressed for time, unprecedented emergencies and immediate changes within the system can cause miscommunication between various types of healthcare staff workers in the hospital and the patient as well. Sudden changes such as last-minute shift cancellations and additions, data and resource unavailability, doctor unavailability, emergencies etc can reduce efficiency for the nursing staff as they are forced to deal with unexpected changes and have to sideline their main responsibilities.
Also, if the management of the hospital does not have a proper system to track schedules and resource & staff availability, it can lead to delays in offering necessary treatment and care to the patients in times of urgency.
AI in Healthcare
The application of artificial intelligence has proven to show an exceptional success rate in improving speed, accuracy and strong analytical support for numerous industries. With the advent of technological advancement in natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning neural networks, the ability to integrate digital infrastructure to improve the efficiency of human activities has greatly improved. Similarly, the adoption of AI in healthcare can greatly enhance productivity and nullify prominent vulnerabilities faced by hospitals and their employees including the nursing staff.
As the nursing staff is going through a hard time in recent times due to multiple challenges such as shortage of staff, excessive workload, etc, AI can be utilized to overcome these barriers to provide optimum care to patients and assist with significant support in their various responsibilities.
Technologies Utilized by AI in Healthcare
1) Machine Learning: Healthcare through progressive technologies such as machine learning is able to experience greater efficiency and productivity in performance like never before. Machine learning employs algorithms that collect and analyze large amounts of patient and health-related information to predict diagnostic outcomes that can aid medical experts in making accurate diagnoses and developing beneficial treatment plans for patients. It makes it possible for doctors to understand patterns in diseases, diagnosis and treatment plans which they can further use in the future to improve patient care.
2) Natural Language Processing: NLP is an effective tool that makes it easier for algorithms to understand verbal and written communication from humans. It will impactfully aid in bridging the gap between patients and hospitals through a better understanding of medical information associated with the patient, knowledge sharing and providing precise medical diagnostic support to healthcare experts.
3) Robotics: During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing made it difficult for nurses and doctors to administer treatment to highly contagious patients as it posed the risk of getting the disease themselves. Robotics made it possible to ensure logistical support by transporting medicines and essential supplies to patients and safely monitoring them from a distance in countries that had such provisions. Similarly, robotics can be utilized for difficult situations where lifting, carrying and placing heavy medical supplies are required. Moreover, they are being incorporated for surgeries along with doctorâ€™s supervision to perform precise movements. With increased intelligence capacity, robotics will play a greater role in providing impactful healthcare to patients in the future.
4) Treatment & Administrative Applications: Artificial intelligence-based applications can provide specific functionalities to provide optimum healthcare in fields such as administration and diagnosis. Automation of administrative tasks would help in maintaining immaculate records for further applications in informational and treatment-related requirements. Diagnostic applications backed by vast amounts of medical data sets would aid in accurately predicting health issues for patients for treatment and research purposes.
AI As Virtual Nursing Assistant in Healthcare
One such use case for AI is a virtual nursing assistant that can ensure vital support to nursing staff in reducing their workload and provide analytical insights and greater accessibility to information that can enhance the treatment experience for the patient. AI as a virtual nursing assistant can perform functions such as gathering and collecting patient data, monitoring vitals, informing nurses and doctors in cases of fluctuations, scheduling appointments and many more. Some of the benefits of AI as a virtual nursing assistant are as follows:
Benefits of Artificial Intelligence As A Virtual Nursing Assistant
1) Personalized Patient Care: AI as a virtual nursing assistant can help to fill in availability gaps for nurses as they can only give limited time to each patient. They can assist in nursing functions such as collecting patient information about their concerns and past medical history, monitoring their vitals and providing clinical support by analyzing possible diagnoses and suggesting personalized treatment plans for the patient to nurses and doctors. They can timely inform nurses and doctors in case of immediate requirements for the patient to successfully administer medicines to counter any emergencies. This can greatly help in offloading some amount of burden from nurses and improve the quality of care to the patients.
2) Greater Accessibility to Information: Treatment for a patient is not just limited to their time spent in the hospital, as they may require medical assistance for recovery even after receiving immediate healthcare from doctors. Here, AI as a virtual nursing assistant can help in offering medical support to patients in the form of connecting doctors and nurses through video calls, offering diagnostic treatment plans and offering medical guidance through medical experts on how to care for themselves at home for their path to recovery.
Also from the hospital's point of view, it can provide greater availability of information, as it can collect, analyze and store medical records individually. This can aid nurses and doctors in accessing specific data easily whenever they require further assessment through detailed reports and insights.
3) Predictive Patient Treatment: As AI allows the gathering of vast amounts of patient data, analysis and reporting can be performed by utilizing technologies such as predictive analysis to understand how a patient exhibiting certain symptoms can be treated to stop the advancement of diseases in early stages. This could eventually help in reducing the footfall of patients with severe sickness as they would receive timely treatment early.
4) Higher Efficiency & Productivity: For nursing staff, their major time is spent on completing daily duties such as collecting vital information about the patient, feeding and giving them medicines, filling up required health reports, communicating necessary information to doctors etc. AI as a virtual nursing assistant can lend them routine support for such tasks and free up nurses' work schedules so that they can perform priority-based tasks and take sufficient rest to provide quality care. By automating monotonous tasks, it would also reduce chances of human error in filling up data due to exhaustion or lack of time etc and ensure meticulous records of health-related information for future use.
5) 24/7 Monitoring: Patients with serious illnesses require constant attention and care without which it can seriously affect their rate of recovery causing dire consequences. As nursing staff can devote only a specific amount of time per patient to cover everyone, AI as a virtual nursing assistant can aid in all-around-the-clock monitoring for such patients. These technologies can constantly check their vitals for sudden fluctuations, inform nurses and doctors immediately in case of emergency and provide detailed information on the patient and their health issue easily to medical experts for comprehensive treatment.
The world is currently experiencing an AI boom in all sectors due to its efficient computational ability to process large data quickly to provide strong analytical support for solving complex problems. The healthcare industry too can greatly benefit from AIâ€™s technological prowess to resolve shortage and efficiency-related issues in the nursing field to avoid severe burnout and stress for its staff and employees. Embracing AI as a virtual assistant can greatly enhance medical opportunities in areas of education, delivering treatment for patients and advanced research for combating sickness and improving the standard of healthcare.
Oodles Technologies is an innovation-driven company offering progressive tech-based solutions for resolving complex challenges and supporting businesses in achieving operational excellence. If you are looking for AI-driven solutions for solving specific problems in healthcare, weâ€™d love to be your partner in the journey. You can contact us here, and our experts will get back to you within 24 hours.