Nurses have always played a critical role at the bedside while bearing witness to numerous changes in technology. In the past 50 years alone, the advancements seem unfathomable to nurses of the not-so-distant past such as "test-tube" babies, medical lasers, the artificial heart, genome mapping, CT and MRI imaging, angioplasty, dialysis, endoscopic procedures, bionic prosthetics, the internet and health information technology (IT), the electronic health record (EHR), and robotic surgeries. However, as health care races toward telemedicine and artificial intelligence, nurses must strategically position themselves to stay relevant. In a recent article in Nursing Management, the author stated: "Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers. Combining the experience, knowledge, and human touch of clinicians with the power of AI will improve the quality of patient care and lower its cost."
Tessa, a cuddly little social robot that supports people with dementia made headlines in March. We know technology can revolutionize care, but Tessa claimed her place as one of the first examples that made it past the pilot stage. The tinybot is not the only piece of technology that improves the lives of people with dementia. More than 270,000 people suffer from this disease in The Netherlands and, with no cure in sight, the need for solutions that increase patients' quality of life is high. ProXcellence, SAP, and the Dutch Alzheimer Association joined forces to develop an application prototype that helps patients and their loved ones engage in real and meaningful conversation.
EIT Digital is putting its weight behind the concept of autonomous robot colleagues for hard-pressed professionals in elderly care provision by supporting the development of SARA (Social & Autonomous Robotic health Assistant) as part of its focus on Digital Wellbeing. SARA is a consortium-led initiative that aims to improve the quality of care in nursing homes and hospitals by introducing robots as social entities – taking on time-consuming tasks and interacting with patients without requiring a human operator. The consortium includes analytics and data science specialist Bright Cape, Forum Virium Helsinki, GIM Robotics, Curamatik and TU Berlin. The idea is to address the twin challenges of caring for a rapidly ageing population and an acute shortage of healthcare professionals, helping to balance a workload that is under ever-increasing pressure: it is estimated that 13.8% of nurses deal every week with the consequences of heavy work pressure – medication errors, for example – while patients feel the impact on quality of care. While there is nothing new about the idea of robot colleagues in healthcare, most of the current generation of robots perform activities that need to be set up and led by a human operator.