Nurses urged to help lead as AI, robotics move deeper into healthcare

AI and other emerging technologies are soon to turn traditional nurses into information integrators. But nurses should be assured that technology will support their profession, not replace it.

So predicts Nancy Robert, PhD, a former executive with the American Nurses Association, in an analysis running online in Nursing Management.

Drawing from experiences of the nursing staff at Yale New Haven Hospital, Robert offers tips for introducing new algorithms into nursing practice. These include:

  • Encourage a growth mindset across the organization. “Prepare teams to learn new ways to gather and use patient data and information,” writes Robert, who is now who is now a managing partner at Polaris Solutions, a software developer.
  • Integrate tools into existing practices based on frontline provider experiences. “Tool usage depends on stories told about the usefulness of the new technology,” Robert advises. “Word-of-mouth dissemination complements formal education and is key for adoption.”
  • Make sure tools are easy to use. Similarly, interpretation of outputs must be intuitive.
  • Show how technology tools improve patient care. “Ideally, they allow nurses to spend more time at the bedside and gain a better understanding of the patient’s illness and needs.”

Robert also considers how robots are changing nursing. Noting that the National Science Foundation has invested more than $3 million over the past five years to learn how robots can perform nursing functions, she asks: Does this mean nurses are headed for obsolescence?  

“Absolutely not—quite the opposite is occurring,” Robert answers. “Nurses are actively engaged in the creation and use of robots designed for patient care and older adult support. The robots are viewed as assistants that can help nurses at the bedside or in the community.”

As new AI technologies assume some tasks performed by nurses today, the profession will see the effects—but the need for nurses will remain, Robert underscores.

“Nursing experience, knowledge and skills will transition to learning new ways of thinking about and processing information,” she concludes. “The nurse will become the information integrator, health coach and deliverer of human caring,” and will be “supported by AI technologies, not replaced by them.”

The full paper is available for free. (Click “Article as PDF.”)