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As I walk the hallways, the hum of consultations and high-tech machines has a calming effect on me, urging me to investigate innovative solutions for my practice. Like others interested in improving efficiency and striving for high-quality care, I regularly wonder what role AI should play within our healthcare system. The AI nurses are like something out of “The Jetsons”, with Rosey the Robot filling in for your nurse instead of a human. The notion of AI nurses taking over entirely is an idea straight out of a sci-fi novel, but it does highlight the potential place for artificial intelligence in healthcare.

How AI Can Empower Nurses

Despite what you might read in headlines about AI nurses taking over for humans, the truth is subtler. To be clear, AI nurses aren’t going to snatch our stethoscopes from us anytime soon. AI isn’t a competitor but a valuable tool. Its strength lies in analyzing vast datasets, streamlining processes, and assisting with risk assessments. However, can they read the minor signs a patient displays? Are those not on the monitor? For now, I have my doubts.

The Irreplaceable Human Touch: Where AI Falls Short

The heart of nursing is in its human connection. Take Mr Davis, a stoic gentleman admitted for an operation. His chart displays a thorough medical history, but the real issue lies deeper. He admits to a phobia of needles—a fact that wouldn’t be in any records. Here, AI is powerless. Empathy and a little humour can help alleviate that for him, making a stressful experience an opportunity to bond instead. Those moments make nursing irreplaceable… and, well, human.

Empathetic AI: The Coming Age of Carebots

The applications of AI in healthcare are growing. Although present-day AI systems perform admirably in data analysis and process automation, research aimed at creating an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)—the kind of AI with hypothetical capabilities to learn and socialize like a human—is still underway.

AGI nurses capable of understanding and responding to human emotions are a curious thought. Imagine a bot nurse who can analyze Mr Davis’s medical history and get the subtle clues that he is anxious. That AGI nurse would deliver comforting words of assurance and maybe suggest a soothing song or visualization to calm his nerves. An AGI nurse who could work alongside humans, bringing genuine holistic and compassionate care.

Widespread AGI is likely still far off, but plenty of promising activity exists. Biomedical companies are already developing clinical software designed to mimic empathy when interacting with patients.

AI nurses aren’t going to snatch our stethoscopes from us anytime soon. AI isn’t a competitor but a valuable tool. Its strength lies in analyzing vast datasets, streamlining processes, and assisting with risk assessments.

Joana Fernandes E Simao

Rosey the Robot 2.0: A New World of Opportunities

Remember Rosey? Picture an AGI nurse as a more advanced model of Rosey — now imagine if, instead of providing questionable advice on how to fix the family car, this AI companion could help manage all those administrative duties that so often cut into time with patients. It is data entry, wrestling with complex electronic health records. This newfound efficiency would free nurses to focus on the most important – patients.

After all, AI is paving the way for a new era of preventive medicine. By analyzing large datasets, including a patient’s medical history and genetic data, AI can detect risks before they become serious health issues. Believing in Longevity Medicine, I dream of healthcare that empowers us to apply good patient-centred preventive measures, resulting in better long-term health for our patients. That kind of proactive activity driven by AI is revolutionary in healthcare.

Also Read: Artificial Intelligence for Healthcare Operational Excellence

Challenges & Considerations: A New Era of Collaboration

Integrating AI, even empathetic AI, won’t be without its challenges. Proper ethical standards are more important than ever. Who is responsible for an AGI error? How do we manage privacy and data security? Open discussions and detailed guidelines will be crucial.

Furthermore, nurses must be well-prepared to work together with AGI—the exhausting pace of lifelong learning and technology adoption will never stop. Nursing schools are responsible for training the next crop of nurses in this changing environment.

Symbiosis and the Way Ahead

Whether current AI systems or tomorrow’s future AGI bots — AI nurses aren’t here to take our jobs. They are to extend what we can do and free us up so we can focus on the unique human qualities of our care. Visualize a world where AI takes away administrative tyranny and aids in diagnosis, whereas nurses bring the human touch to provide solace, patient education and personalized care plans. Collaboration between human and machine caregivers can transform healthcare, creating better patient outcomes, streamlining facility operations, and creating healthier working environments.

A World of Nuance: The Human-AI Dance

Of course, the relationship between nurses and AI won’t be a simple on/off switch. You will have the full range of tasks and contexts. For example, a patient might prefer to have specific anxieties disclosed to an AGI Nurse with non-judgement delivered in a neutral programmed tone. Some patients, however, might be soothed by the compassion that only a human nurse can offer. This means that care plans must be designed using a process that leverages human and AI resources to understand what is needed and preferred.

The Future We Choose: Embracing Innovation with a Human Heart

The future of nursing is promising, but it has yet to be determined. It is up to us, the nurses, healthcare providers and developers to ensure that when AI integration takes place, it occurs ethically and safely. Ultimately, AI nurses are not here to replace the heart of nursing. They are powerful tools, but they are tools, nonetheless. The human touch, the ability to connect, empathise, and advocate for our patients – that’s what will always define nursing.

Joana Fernandes E Simao, Nursing Administrator

PS—While this is all my opinion (okay, most of it), I can’t deny that my AI assistant helped me along with the writing. The future is already here, and it’s helping me shape compelling arguments for its role in nursing!

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