AI and Robotics in Nursing

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September 19, 2022


AI / Healthcare / Robotics


AI and Robotics in Nursing

Digitalization has transformed the way medical care is offered to patients. The field of nursing is critical to patient care, and digital innovations are changing many practices for the nursing workforce. The integration of health informatics into the nursing curriculum and clinical practice has many promising opportunities to offer.

How does AI help nurses?

Nurses work with a considerable amount of clinical information, electronic medical records, integrated medical equipment, and support systems. AI start-ups are partnering with nursing practices to develop predictive analytics effectively and integrate algorithms into patient care processes.

For example, the Rothman Index developed by a team of nurses at Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) reflects patient acuity and risk level. Based on this Index’s experience, the YNHH nursing team succeeded in formulating guidelines regarding integrating new data into patient care.

AI technologies, such as visual recognition, voice assistance, machine learning, and virtual reality, all offer various nursing opportunities. This includes monitoring breathing patterns, detecting non-verbal cues of depression and anxiety in case of mental health patients, retrieving information from a massive pile of digital data, reminders for the up-coming appointments, reminders for timely medications, predict the treatment cost for the patients based on symptoms, risk prediction in case of sepsis, relapse, geriatric patients, patients with medical complications, etc. The computer-generated images and experiences through virtual reality are helpful in patient education and motivation and also for e-learning exercises for nursing students.

AI technologies are being used in clinical, financial, and operational areas that operate with nursing teams. Nurses are often involved in designing and deploying new applications such as the mobile apps at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCH) to improve the patient experience. For this, the data is collected from the EMR to identify and predict adverse events and ways to prevent them.

Many AI-based startups are focusing on improving nursing care. One such patient-centered virtual nursing assistant is CareAngel. It helps maintain the individual’s health. BeyondVerbal is a startup that detects various characteristics from a speaker’s voice, which indicates personal health conditions. Cogito is a company that offers care management by improving human connections with an element of emotional intelligence. Corti is an example of digital assistance in the emergency department. It uses deep learning to help medical personnel make critical decisions during medical emergencies. NeuroLex offers an advanced linguistic tool to characterize various health conditions. Winterlight Labs have developed a novel AI technology that can accurately detect and monitor cognitive and mental diseases.

Robot nurse

‘Sophia,’ the social robot, is a wonder of the robotic engineering technology that is efficient and also emotionally responsive. With the prediction of a large aging population of about 78 million by 2035, a strain on the healthcare system is anticipated. In countries like Japan, the situation is even worse, and the nursing staff shortage only adds to it.

Robots can assist nurses in many day-to-day tasks like patient evaluation, recording the vitals, collecting body fluid samples, dispense prescription medications, etc. Telepresence robots can also be controlled remotely to communicate with patients. Da Vinci is a robot that offers surgery support as the surgeon can remote-control it to perform the surgical procedure. Xenex robot is used in infection control to disinfect operating rooms and areas where there is a chance for high infection spread, such as this COVID pandemic.

Many robots help nurses in improving patient care. For example, Paro, Pepper, and Chapit, that talks, Aibo, a pet-robot, Palro who helps the geriatric patients perform their exercise routines, and Robear to transfer patients from bed to wheelchair.

Technometrics is a US-based company that builds service robots like the touch-screen operated robot Tech Butler for healthcare. The US-based OhmniLabs is a startup that develops personal robots for telepresence and geriatric care. Ohmni Supercam comes with a high-resolution camera with an ultra-wide field of view to move silently and smoothly in any area. This system also allows the family full control over the communication of the robots. A modular and scalable robotic hospital pharmacy is provided by the Poland-based company UnitDoseOne with complete drug logistics control. This can track patients’ prescriptions and dosages.

The Indian startup Jetbrain is a patient care robot that is an autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for hospitals. Not only does ARYA, the assistive care robot, enable round the clock patient monitoring, but it also assists nurses in administering timely medications to the patients. JetBrains also builds generic transportation robots integrated into the hospital enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

Challenges and Future Perspective

Despite the advances in AI and Robotics, there are some concerns in nursing practice. One is the computer’s tendency to generate biased output if unreliable and biased inputs data is used to train the machine. Data integrity is another common concern among data scientists. Care must be taken to maintain algorithm transparency and prevent bias from creeping into various stages of the project, such as formulating the task to be solved, type of data used to train the system, and attributes that can skew the algorithm results.

Like all other healthcare sectors, nursing will be influenced as novel digital technologies such as AI and Robotics take over nurses’ tasks. This will revolutionize the way patient care is delivered at all levels. Despite these advances, nothing can replace the experience, knowledge, and skills that a trained nursing staff offers. However, digital innovations can transform newer ways of approaching healthcare changing the nursing specialty for the greater good.

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