Medical professionals working with remote technology

AI and Patient Care: How It’s Changing the Game for Nurses

Current and Future Applications of AI in Nursing

Medical professionals working with remote technology

With countless people’s well-being at stake, the healthcare industry is understandably at the forefront of developing technologies. Researchers are constantly looking for new ways to save lives, improve patient outcomes, and help healthcare facilities run more efficiently—and one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent history is the progression of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is already a much bigger part of our lives than most people realize. One study showed that while only one in three people were comfortable with the idea of engaging with artificial intelligence, 84% of those same people were already using some form of AI every day without even knowing it.

As technology continues to develop, AI is poised to enable major breakthroughs in patient care and throughout the entire medical field. Let’s explore more about AI and its growing role in nursing and healthcare.

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The Role of AI in Nursing and Patient Care

AI can’t replace the compassion, instincts, and communication skills of experienced nurses, though AI tools will likely become an even bigger part of their daily routine in the near future. Artificial intelligence in healthcare has the potential to benefit patients, providers, and care facilities by streamlining certain processes and offering important new insights.

When many people think about artificial intelligence, they imagine the dystopian depictions they’ve seen in sci-fi movies. However, AI is currently much closer to a superpowered data processor than a sentient being that can solve complex problems. AI relies on massive data inputs to make analyses and recognize patterns, which makes it ideal for data-driven fields like healthcare.

In the medical field, many examples of artificial intelligence may be more accurately described as augmented intelligence, because its primary role is to help trained human providers make better-informed choices. By analyzing data from a wide range of sources, AI can help nurses become more efficient and effective in many aspects of their jobs.

Current AI Applications in Nursing and Patient Care

AI is already in use throughout nursing and medicine, everywhere from diagnostics and decision-making to triage and patient monitoring. As health data becomes more robust and AI platforms become even more powerful and accessible, they’ll play an increasingly important role in patient care. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways AI is already making an impact for nurses and their patients.

Streamlining Administrative Tasks

From booking appointments to managing prescriptions to updating electronic health records (EHRs), there’s a significant amount of administrative work within nursing. One research study showed nurses spend at least 25% of their time on documentation, with some nurses reporting as high as 41%.

Using AI to automate or streamlining more of these administrative tasks can give nurses more time and mental energy to focus on their patients. AI-assisted voice recognition and language processing technology can help nurses save significant amounts of time on documentation and reduce the inevitable inaccuracies that arise when making manual entries.

Improving Clinical Decision-Making

Because it’s able to process massive amounts of data so efficiently, AI-powered tools can provide nurses, physicians, and other providers with insights based on each individual patient’s health history, physiology, and even genetics. In many cases, this information can lead to earlier detection and more accurate diagnoses. It can also help nurses decide on an appropriate course of action if a patient’s condition takes a turn for the worse.

However, AI has its limits when it comes to making complicated clinical decisions. It’s not capable of understanding empathy or ethics, both of which are critical aspects of patient care. AI can also overlook rare or complicated cases, because it’s generally trained to spot the most common solution to any given problem. Even with how powerful AI platforms have become, there’s no replacement for the intuition and critical-thinking skills of a seasoned nurse.

Two bioengineers working with computer concept of the human body

Enhancing Patient Monitoring and Safety

AI technology is changing how nurses monitor their patients’ safety. By processing patient data from EHRs, wearable sensors, or smart monitoring devices, AI platforms can help identify potential complications and ensure nurses are ready to react to any adverse events.

Ai-assisted patient monitoring technology is already in use throughout the medical industry. If you have exercise-tracking or crash-detection features on a smartwatch or smartphone, you’re using something similar! It can alert nurses to changes in vital signs, predict a patient’s likelihood for falling, and spot signs of a potential infection or other concerns. Predictive AI can also use health data to identify unique risks in each patient, enabling nurses to deliver more personalized treatment.

Supporting Patient Engagement and Education

Patients who want to actively participate in their own care have better health outcomes, and artificial intelligence has the potential to keep patients engaged by ensuring they can access the health information they need. AI chatbots and virtual assistants can be available around the clock, and provide personalized educational materials based on each patient’s health data, history, and preferences.

Many health conditions have frequently asked questions that come up among patients, and getting an instant response instead of having to wait until their provider’s office opens can relieve a lot of anxiety. AI-assisted apps and devices can also help patients stick with their treatment plans by offering reminders for medications or other home-care treatments. By helping patients understand their health and offering advice tailored to their needs, AI can encourage patients to remain engaged in their own healing.

Training and Adaptation for Nurses

While nurses certainly aren’t at risk of losing their jobs to AI, learning how to use AI healthcare technologies will be an important part of keeping their skills current. Nursing education programs will need to adapt their curriculum to reflect rapidly evolving healthcare technology. Similarly, healthcare organizations and employers will need to prioritize professional development programs to help their people make the transition to using more AI-based tools.

Implementing any new technology throughout a large organization is always a challenge, and AI can be a polarizing topic. Some nurses may be hesitant to embrace the growing use of AI in healthcare, whether it’s due to underlying concerns about job security or simply a reluctance to change the way they’ve been working. However, AI in nursing has the potential to drastically improve nurses’ ability to do their jobs, and there’s no replacing the human element of patient care that trained nurses provide.

The Future of AI in Nursing

The ongoing adoption of AI in nursing will take many different forms. As we continue finding new ways to gather and analyze patient data, we’ll be able to train AI platforms to make better use of health information to aid nurses in caring for their patients.

In the near future, nurses will almost certainly see a significant increase in voice-assisted technology to streamline patient documentation. AI-based robotics may also be used for medication management or assisting with certain procedures. Nurses are also likely to see an increase in AI-assisted diagnostic methods that are less invasive to patients than current methods like biopsies.

As AI healthcare technology continues to develop, avoiding potential biases in data or algorithms must be a priority for product developers and programmers. Similarly, gathering input from the nurses who use AI applications in the real world will be essential to making them as useful—and ethical—as they can be.

Smiling nurse outside with medical symbols in the background

Train for the Future of Nursing at Provo College

AI is all but certain to transform healthcare—in ways we currently expect and likely several more that we don’t. Implemented properly, it has the opportunity to help nurses and physicians provide more equitable and effective care. Providers who can find the balance between embracing new technology and maintaining a human touch will be able to thrive as artificial intelligence becomes increasingly commonplace in healthcare.

As AI and healthcare technology continue to progress, aspiring nurses will benefit from a nursing education program that’s in touch with the latest advancements. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Provo College offers an up-to-date curriculum designed to prepare you for a successful career in modern healthcare facilities.

You’ll learn from experienced nurses with years of clinical experience, and build hands-on skills in our immersive simulation labs. And because of our partnerships with leading healthcare organizations, you’ll have opportunities to train on some of the latest treatments and technologies during your clinical rotations.

Want to know more about your potential opportunities as an RN? Check out our article on the 16 highest-paid nursing jobs, or dive into our step-by-step guide on how to become a registered nurse.