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Can Robots Replace Nurses? 3 Predictions

The healthcare sector was relatively slow in embracing technology due to concerns over privacy, confidentiality, and compliance—until recently. With advancements and the development of security standards and best practices, many practitioners and patients are more willing to welcome innovation through technology as it proves to be an essential tool supporting the health and well-being of patients. 

With the current speed of advancements in the sector, including innovations in diagnosis and treatments, particularly the use of robots in healthcare facilities, some are contemplating the possibility of robots taking over nurses’ jobs. 

What the Future of Healthcare Looks Like

For those curious about how to get an RN degree or wondering whether it’s worth taking a shot in this industry, here are our predictions about the future of technology in healthcare. 

  1. Wearable tech will become the norm 

The concept of wearable tech was born out of consumer demand—people wanting to have better control of their health. This technology has slowly been woven into the medical industry. Patients, particularly those who require remote monitoring, can use smartwatches, wearable blood pressure monitors, and wearable ECG monitors. According to Insider Intelligence research, over 80% of consumers surveyed expressed willingness to wear fitness technology. It is expected that by 2024, at least 72.6 million American adults will wear smartwatches to monitor their health. 

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In addition to the popular smartwatches, biosensors will become mainstream. Worn as a self-adhesive patch, biosensors can collect patient data including temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and movements. According to a study done by Augusta University Medical Center (AUMC), biosensors could support a significant reduction in patient deterioration into respiratory or cardiac arrest. 

AUMC VP and Chief Medical Officer Kevin Dellsperger, M.D. said, “Other than a patient self-actuating a call line or a family member calling for help, there is no way that nurse could know what is going on.”

This device is particularly crucial for nurses who need to take care of multiple patients at any given time. It’s difficult for them to monitor subtle signs of declining health. So, for patients requiring constant vigilance, a sensor detecting changes that are difficult to see with the eye is extremely helpful. 

  1. Robotic nurses will take over some tasks in healthcare facilities

Disinfection, transporting medical devices, medication management, and lifting patients are some of the functions that robotic nurses can do. A relay robot, for example, can carry out in-hospital transport of medical devices, medications, laboratory samples, and other healthcare supplies. 

In Japan, some robots can schedule appointments, while robotic nurses can help lift patients. 

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are leading to the development of more helpful use cases for technology. In the future, these functionalities can be integrated into the healthcare facility systems. 

Robotic nurses can also be critical in ensuring the health and well-being of nurses as they can become the first responders for patients with infectious conditions. 

  1. AI functionality and efficiency will become a necessity

AI will be at the front and center of nursing tasks, improving accuracy and reporting to help reduce alarm fatigue. By optimizing hospital processes through efficient AI, patients may undergo deep learning assessments that can help detect whether they are at high risk for potential complications. 

Research done by Duke University showed the power of AI to detect and send an alarm to a rapid response team about a patient who may be at high risk for developing sepsis, thereby preventing serious complications. 

AI will not only be critical for nurses with direct interactions with patients. It can also help streamline paperwork and documentation tasks that nurses typically do as part of their responsibilities.

Can Robots Replace Nurses?

The straight and simple answer is no. Technology should not be seen as an enemy that will take over the jobs of nurses, but as a set of tools and solutions to make their jobs easier. Robots can perform menial and repetitive tasks like monitoring patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. These devices can be integrated into a dashboard to monitor and analyze a patient’s condition. Outside the hospital setting, this helps patients be more proactive with their health. Inside the hospital, the technology helps doctors and nurses get valuable data about a patient’s health in real time. 

Nursing care is more than just performing tasks, collecting samples, and recording data. Robots and AI are tools that have no refined social skills, emotional intelligence, or empathy. Robots and AI in healthcare facilities will augment and automate some tasks, allowing nurses more time to care for their patients, more time for self-growth, and more time for self-care. 

Nurses should, however, develop technology skills to help them become more competitive as more healthcare facilities factor in tech-savviness as part of the requirements for hiring and promoting nurses. 

Technology will aid healthcare, and given the rising demand for nurses, learning how to get an RN degree is a step in the right direction. Nurses of the future will have tasks that are more focused on providing personalized patient care, allowing them to enjoy the perks of being a nurse

If you’re interested in learning how to get an RN degree, check out our nursing programs

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