The Importance of Artificial Intelligence in Nursing

All industries were affected by COVID-19. Nurses and healthcare centers suffered the hardest hits, resulting in severe working conditions. The post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates for workers during the pandemic rose. Out of 10 workers, three were considering retirement from the healthcare industry.

While shortages in nursing are not uncommon, the COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the situation. Consequently, hospitals must reimagine their hiring practices, personnel management models, benefits, and remuneration. Medical teams, supervisors, and IT departments can now collaborate to integrate new technologies. One system employs cloud-powered technology that incorporates machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to solve the nursing staffing issue.

Transforming Healthcare with AI: The Case of Mary Washington Healthcare

Mary Washington Healthcare (MWHC) is a non-commercial medical system that delivers out-patient and in-patient care through over 50 healthcare centers, including the 100-bed Stafford Hospital and the 471-bed Mary Washington Hospital. Staffing inefficiencies were rife due to increasing COVID-19 hospital admissions and the available clinical staff being overworked, especially during the Delta variant outbreak. Unconventional methods thus became viable options to counter these problems for the MWHC’s administrative leadership.

MWHC’s vice president of performance enhancement confirms that the Innovation Council, whose role is to leverage technology, spearheaded the use of intelligent robotics to enhance patient care quality and support essential medical teams.

Robotics in Nursing

The role and impact of medical care teams and nurses are multi-directional for most healthcare centers. Hospital structures typically feature mission-critical departments distributed across different floors, wings, units, and buildings; consequently, caregivers have to abandon their patients to perform scheduled tasks such as delivering medicines, medical supplies, and lab specimens.

Turning to intelligent robotics assists nurses with the routine tasks that do not involve attending to patients. Currently in effective use all over the country, the technology helps frontline physicians tackle fetch-and-deliver actions quickly. The hospital robot assistant can move between different departments and sections, collecting and delivering medication, food orders, patient specimens, etc. The assistant’s badge system for each interaction starts and ends with humans swiping in and out to ensure the correct items are sent and received.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Nursing Practice

To acclimate the clinical staff to the smart robot assistant, Eileen Dohmann, MWHC’s chief nursing officer, took the robot with her to different functions and events. Nurses discovered the robot’s potential as an assistant through meets and greets. For example, nurses requested a workflow tweak to the robot’s location modules so that it can deliver COVID-19 tests to the relevant labs. Now, nurses can suggest unique ideas for customization to enhance care and precision.

Within a short time, a new routine for the nursing robot assistant was ordered and executed by the nurses to deliver packed meals in the evening for patients admitted after ordinary dinner hours. The robot assistant can also carry out fleet scheduling, store data, and set the stage for machine learning infrastructure. These changes were implemented within a month of the robot assistant’s deployment in the MWHC.

Medical robotic systems form a crucial part of active research, and different systems already exist in healthcare practice. AI robots are currently involved with neurosurgery, general surgery, orthopedic operations, and radiation treatments and therapeutics. The broader scope of telemedicine and telerobotics drives the improved capabilities of robotic nursing assistants.

In reality, nursing and assistive robotics deployment pose financial, clinical, psychological, social, ethical, and legal challenges. The attitudes and perceptions of patients, nurses, and other key stakeholders are projected to have a defining impact on the impact and future of robotics in healthcare.

Socially Assistive Robots

These types of robotic assistants provide help to end-users via interpersonal interaction. Possible use cases include support for adults with dementia, physical exercise motivation, companionship, and rehabilitation after a stroke. Socially assistive robots are capable of video-monitoring elderly patients and sending alerts to nurses in case of any emergency. They may also send news and entertainment alerts, remind patients to adhere to medical prescriptions, and motivate them to attend to physical exercise.

Physically Assistive Robots

To combat a wide variety of medical circumstances that may lead to loss of mobility in patients and the elderly, assistive robots come in handy to assist with standing, sitting, and walking support. Autonomy, safety, and streamlined mobility are among the advantages of robotics in healthcare, particularly for robotic wheelchairs.

Intelligently designed mechanical robotic systems are well-suited to cater to individuals with impaired motor systems, such as severe spinal injuries, limited limb movements, and tremors. Activities such as eating and drinking, access and mobility, and general moving and reaching tasks by disabled people may require such assistive devices and physically assistive robot assistants.

At MWHC, some of the most straightforward tasks to remember carried out by the robotic assistants were also the simplest. These include collecting and delivering phones to allow COVID-19 patients to communicate with their families at home. Thus, techs and nurses spent more time practicing at the top of their licenses and providing premium-quality patient care.

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