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Can AI-Assisted Nurses Replace Humans?

Written by : Nikita Saha

March 29, 2024

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been at the forefront of groundbreaking advancements, from ChatGPT streamlining tasks to AI robots blending with the human ecosystem.

The trajectory of AI is undeniable—it's not just the future, but the very essence of it. However, amidst its impressive strides, there's a pervasive concern about AI encroaching upon human jobs.

While AI undoubtedly streamlines processes for businesses, some believe it is merely impossible to match human capabilities, particularly in sensitive domains such as healthcare.

According to the IBM Global AI Adoption Index 2022, the AI global adoption rate in healthcare has seen a steady rise, standing at 35%, marking a four-point increase from 2021.

Furthermore, reports highlight that AI in the healthcare market, valued at $8.23 billion in 2020 is poised for exponential growth.

Projections indicate a remarkable surge, with the market expected to reach an impressive $194.4 billion by 2030, boasting a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.1% from 2021 to 2030.

While AI has indeed made remarkable contributions in fields including drug discovery and disease detection, it has also been instrumental in helping the healthcare fraternity reach unprecedented levels of achievement. But is it only a helping hand?

Recently, NVIDIA and Hippocratic AI partnered to offer AI-generated nurses for just $9 an hour, across the globe.

This brings us to the question - Are AI-assisted nurses becoming a new trend in healthcare? Can they possibly replace human nurses entirely, or do they offer supplementary benefits? In this article, let us evaluate these pressing questions.

What are AI-Assisted Nurses?

AI-Assisted Nurses leverage artificial intelligence to enhance nursing practices in modern healthcare. These systems offer capabilities aimed at improving efficiency, data analysis, availability, and precision.

Services offered by AI-Assisted Nurses encompass a wide range of functions aimed at optimizing patient care and healthcare workflows.

These services include clinical decision support, patient monitoring, documentation assistance, initial patient assessments, and remote consultations.

AI vs Human: Is There a Comparison?

AI-Assisted Nurses offer several advantages over human nurses. They can help nurses perform tasks more efficiently by automating daily routines, freeing up time to care for more patients.

Additionally, AI offers predictions and suggestions with accuracy and specificity beyond human capacity. This includes generating nursing diagnoses, predicting fall risks, and guiding decisions to prevent infections.

Moreover, AI can alert doctors to potential patient problems sooner and provide information about the best course of treatment. Furthermore, automating repetitive administrative and documentation tasks allows clinicians to focus on higher-value patient care activities.

The best part is that AI doesn’t need rest, sleep unlike human nurses, enabling it to provide round-the-clock monitoring and assistance.

However, there are limitations to AI-assisted nurses. AI lacks the ability to understand human emotions and offer the emotional support and empathy that human nurses provide.

Additionally, AI cannot make complex clinical judgments based on training and experience as human nurses can. Human nurses can provide a personal touch and comfort to patients, which AI nurses cannot replicate.

Moreover, human nurses are capable of making ethical decisions that consider the patient’s values and beliefs, a capability that AI lacks.

Global Companies at the Fore of Adoption

Healthcare companies around the globe are embracing adoption of AI nurses to enhance their services.

For instance, Diligent Healthcare has developed Moxi, an advanced robot designed to assist healthcare teams by autonomously roaming healthcare facilities, engaging with people, and completing non-patient-facing tasks.

Likewise, NVIDIA and Hippocratic AI partnered to develop AI-powered ‘healthcare agents’ that outperform other large language models and human nurses in specific tasks.

China Medical University Hospital and Microsoft also collaborated to build a Chinese language AI electronic health system called gHI (Generative Healthcare Intelligent System), enabling medical personnel to accurately convert spoken content into written text.

Additionally, care.ai provides AI and Ambient Intelligence to empower virtual nurses and Smart Care Teams.

In India, the concept of AI-assisted nursing and virtual nurses is fairly new.

The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) developed guidelines for telenursing practice, conducting webinars to create awareness among nursing professionals and using telenursing for their Ph.D. program.

Additionally, several startups in India are integrating AI into healthcare, with companies like Practo and Portea Medical pioneering the use of AI in telemedicine and home healthcare services.

What Studies Suggest on AI in Nursing

Several studies have explored the adoption of AI in nursing, yielding promising results.

For example, a study funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research investigated the potential of AI applications in nursing care. These applications, including ML for automated scheduling of nurse rotations and image processing for detecting changes in patient activity, have shown significant promise.

The University of California Irvine’s School of Nursing utilized AI and ML to enhance care quality. Their research indicates that AI approaches using large datasets offer new insights into quality nursing care, reflecting the growing adoption of AI health technologies in the medical field.

Robotic assistants, as mentioned in a report by Nurse.org, can automate simple tasks, allowing nurses to focus on direct patient care. This automation leads to more timely treatment, better patient outcomes, and increased satisfaction for both patients and healthcare workers.

These studies show AI holds immense potential to transform nursing practice by augmenting clinical decision-making, improving patient monitoring, and optimizing workflows.

However, while the adoption of AI in nursing shows significant potential in enhancing patient care and healthcare efficiency, it's crucial to consider ethical implications to ensure patient-centered care remains paramount.

Potential Challenges & Risks

Many AI algorithms operate as “black boxes,” meaning that information about how the algorithm made its decision is not accessible. This lack of transparency can make it difficult for healthcare professionals to trust the AI’s recommendations.

Furthermore, the increasing threat of cybersecurity poses a significant risk when relying on AI nurses. There is a potential for the breach of sensitive patient data, which could have serious consequences for patient privacy and confidentiality.

Moreover, ethical and legal considerations vary from country to country and must be taken into account when implementing AI in healthcare settings. Adhering to these considerations is essential to ensure that AI applications comply with applicable laws and ethical standards. Failure to do so could result in legal and ethical implications for healthcare providers and organizations.

Bridging the Gap

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) reports of 2022, there is a significant shortage of health workers, particularly nurses and midwives, with Southeast Asia and Africa experiencing the largest needs-based deficits.

WHO estimates that the world will need an additional nine million nurses and midwives by the year 2030. Alarmingly, the International Council of Nurses warns that without drastic action, there could be a shortage of 13 million nurses by the same year (2030).

While nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million between 2013 and 2018, there still remains a global shortfall of 5.9 million. In regions where the shortage of nurses is acute, AI-assisted nurses can step in to bridge the gap and provide essential healthcare services.

By leveraging AI technology, healthcare facilities can optimize their resources and ensure that patients receive timely and quality care, even in the face of nurse shortages.

AI-assisted nurses can also complement human nurses, augmenting their capabilities and expanding the reach of healthcare services to underserved populations.

Utilizing AI-assisted nurses can be a game-changer in addressing the global shortage of nurses, a problem plaguing healthcare systems worldwide.

Wrapping Up

While AI-assisted nursing holds immense potential, it’s crucial to address these challenges to ensure that AI truly enhances patient care and doesn’t compromise it.

It’s also important to remember that AI is a tool to assist nurses, not replace them. The human touch and empathy that nurses provide are irreplaceable and remain at the heart of patient care.

AI-assisted nurses can be used where there is a scarcity of nurses to actually solve a problem and not create one by replacing human nurses. By complementing healthcare professionals at all levels, AI-assisted Nurses can serve as a valuable helping hand, bringing efficiency to the work while preserving the essential human connection in patient care.


About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org

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