The Impact of AI on Nursing: 5 Key Takeaways

August 02, 2018 Facebook Live Video Image

On Friday, July 20th we held our first live streaming event on Facebook aimed at demystifying the term "Artificial Intelligence" (AI), and in particular its rising use in patient care. The panel was moderated by leading nurse advocate “Nurse Blake” and included Bonnie Clipper, DNP - VP of Practice & Innovation for the American Nurses Association, Kevin Goodwin - CEO of EchoNous, and Niko Pagoulatos - COO of EchoNous. EchoNous is a proud member of the American Nurses Foundation’s Corporate Advisory Board, whose aim is to elevate the voice of nurses. 

Five key takeaways emerged from the event:

  • AI is Powered by Math, And You’re Already Using It – Simply stated, artificial intelligence is the effort to make machines think and act like humans by teaching computers (aka “machine learning”) to recognize images and sounds, and then make decisions based on them. Everyday conveniences like Netflix and Amazon Prime use AI to help make recommendations based on customer behavior, and credit card fraud detection uses machine learning to study buying habits and then recognize abnormal purchases. Companies like these utilize underlying math algorithms to crunch data and help customers see or buy products they may like, or improve a range of services by automating tasks. This approach to machine learning is now being integrated into nursing to assist in bedside decision making and common tasks, with the goal as Kevin Goodwin of EchoNous noted, that “when AI is good, you won’t know you are using it.”
  • AI Will Not Replace Nurses – While many nurses might be concerned about being replaced by a robot someday when the topic of AI is raised, the panelists roundly debunked this myth.  ANA’s Dr. Bonnie Clipper stressed that, “nurses will learn to incorporate AI into our practice but it will not replace the human factor. Only they can provide hands-on patient care.”
  • AI Can Give Nurses More Time with Patients – As nurses are always seeking to do a better job serving patient needs, there is a strong belief that AI can be critical in this ongoing care evolution through saving time (and resources) in the hospital. AI has the potential to disrupt how care is delivered on many fronts, saving time on a variety of tasks such as bladder scanning or vein finding, and actually provide nurses more time with patients for other care needs.
  • Beware of AI Hype Just as in other industries, AI is quickly becoming an overused buzzword in healthcare technology, potentially to the detriment of those involved in its true innovation and application. Nurses and other providers must beware of some companies who are contributing to the hype surrounding AI by overstating the level of machine learning in their devices. While this can be a challenge to sift the hype out from the actual innovators, the reality of AI in healthcare is that we are still in the early phases of innovation and application.
  • Nurses Will Help Drive AI’s Future – While AI stands to be a tool that can help increase efficiency, help clinicians make more informed decisions for their patients, and hopefully is fun to use, there is widespread recognition that a move towards more AI integration in nursing will always be a machine + man formula, or as Niko Pagoulatos of EchoNous said, “the clinician will always have the last word.”  In order to make that vision a reality, there was widespread agreement from the panel that companies like EchoNous and organizations like ANA must continue to engage with the nursing community in order to develop intelligent tools that meet (or exceed) the needs in today’s hospitals.

Hopefully this was just the start of an ongoing discussion about how AI can help nurses improve patient care. We welcome further questions or comments about AI and its impact on nursing on the Facebook video, or by contacting us directly.