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Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Nurses?

By Josh Silverman on November 21, 2017


Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are businesses and primarily for-profit businesses.  Naturally their ultimate goal is to earn money and corporations that operate them continue to seek cost saving mechanisms.  Knowing that profit is the biggest motivator, in our office we like to think that holding nursing homes and assisted living facilities accountable is costly and therefore the threat of being sued for bad care will motivate them to provide better care.  Anecdotally there is evidence that it is true. 

What does this have to do with AI?  Staffing is the biggest cost in operating a long term care facility so the owners are always looking for ways to keep staffing costs down which leads to understaffed facilities.  An AI revolution is probably coming where long term care facilities will be investing in AI to reduce labor costs.  

Here are a few examples of AI that's already in nursing homes:  Fall alarms.  These are different type of buzzers that alert the staff that a patient is trying to get out of bed.  They are cheap and they can help the staff prevent falls. The CDC estimates that an elderly person suffers a fall injury every 11 seconds so this is a big deal.  Some of the alarms also have recorded voices reminding the resident to wait for assistance.  There are beds that turn and reposition patients to prevent bedsores.  Machines assist nurses in administering medications.  What is next is hard to say.  I would add that it is not a question of whether this is a good or bad thing because it is inevitable.  The question is whether the industry will go overboard because there is no substitute to having a good nurse at the bedside!  I'm all for using technology to make it easier for nurses to provide great care, but there is no technology that can replace a skillful and caring nurse. 

Here is a link to the article in Forbes magazine.  

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