Last Updated on July 20, 2023
“Will robots take my job?” It’s a question more and more healthcare professionals are asking. As technology like artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare becomes more common, should nurses and other clinicians worry about being replaced?
The short answer is no. Technology isn’t likely to replace healthcare workers any time soon. In fact, it can actually help improve working conditions. If you’re a nurse, technician, therapist or other type of clinician, then there’s a good chance you’ll have to work with this technology in the near future. But instead of taking your healthcare job, it’s more likely to help you carve out a better career.
With that in mind, here are seven things every nurse and clinician should know about AI and healthcare.
Will Robots Take My Job? 7 Things to Know about AI and Healthcare
#1: Technology Is Taking Over Tasks, Not Jobs.
Will robots take my job? Will AI replace me? Anyone asking these questions is probably a little worried about losing their job to technology. And that’s understandable. After all, it’s happened in other industries.
But the main thing to understand is that healthcare technology isn’t meant to replace humans. Instead, it’s designed to help you do your job more quickly and efficiently.
AI will impact the work of many people in the healthcare industry, but there’s no need to fear. Machines won’t be replacing healthcare providers anytime soon.Bernard Marr for Forbes
For instance, AI technology can help clinical teams write scripts and diagnose patients. It also helps find abnormalities in x-rays, MRI scans or other images that a busy technician might not even be looking for.
But humans need to double-check all this work! So, it isn’t actually replacing the need to do these tasks. Instead, technology helps you do them faster and more accurately.
#2: Technology Is Already Everywhere in Healthcare.
In reality, technology has supported basic healthcare for many years now. For instance, people already use the Internet to learn more about symptoms they may be experiencing. And that doesn’t stop them from going to their primary care provider. They’re doing it to get answers to basic questions while they’re at home, which they confirm with a nurse or doctor later.
That’s not all. Doctors use robots to help with sensitive surgical operations, and have done so for years. Telehealth technology helps people live with chronic conditions from the comfort of home, instead of in a hospital or acute-care facility. In fact, some hospitals have used “virtual nurse” programs to help manage patients for more than 10 years now.
#3: ‘Virtual Nursing’ Helps Nurses, instead of Replacing Them.
But that term “virtual nurse” might still seem a little scary. Does it mean hospitals might stop hiring human nurses? If you’re a nurse, does that mean a robot might really take your job?
Again, the short answer is no. Most of the time, hospitals use this technology because they can’t hire enough nurses to care for their patients. With America’s population getting older, there are more patients who need care than ever before. In most areas, there just aren’t enough nurses to get the job done.
So, some hospitals are using “virtual nurses” to help manage all these patients. This is a combination of automated technology and off-site nurses who carry out important tasks that don’t need to be done in person. From scheduling visits and coordinating care to remotely monitoring patient vital signs, virtual nurses help reduce the amount of busywork for on-staff nurses.
The result is that nurses on the floor get to spend more time with patients, which is why many of them became nurses in the first place! This model “certainly doesn’t ever replace the bedside nurse,” as one nursing leader told Modern Healthcare. Instead, it “supports the bedside nurse.”
#4: Technology Helps Improve Your Work/Life Balance.
Nobody knows better than healthcare professionals just how stressful their jobs can get. That’s usually because employers don’t have enough nurses and clinicians to handle all the work that needs to get done.
Using remote care technology and AI to help with basic tasks can help with this. In the process, it frees up time in the schedule for busy workers. That can mean less overtime, and more time to spend at home with your family.
#5: Technology Helps Make Patients Safer and Happier.
On top of all this, technology makes things better for patients, too. They can do things like get answers to basic questions and schedule appointments from home. And that means they’re more comfortable and happier with the care they receive. As a result, they’re more likely to engage with it, and follow the guidance of caregivers who are trying to help them get better.
This process can also make patients safer. It does this by giving them better information and helping keep them engaged in their care plan. The use of AI can also help diagnose issues faster, which can speed up recovery. Additionally, virtual nurses help keep nurses, aides and other on-the-floor workers from getting distracted with mundane tasks and questions, so they can focus on providing better care.
Making patients happier and healthier helps healthcare workers, too. Faster recoveries mean less time spent in the hospital. And gives healthcare professionals more time to treat more patients — or get some well-deserved downtime.
#6: Healthcare and AI Need a ‘Human Touch’ to Work.
Because it supports and doesn’t replace workers, technology like AI and virtual care need humans to run successfully. So, healthcare employers will look for nurses and clinicians who are comfortable with this tech, and know how to use it. They’ll need people who can double-check a script written by AI, for instance, or who know how to manage a remote monitoring program.
This doesn’t mean that every clinical worker needs to understand how the technology works! But you should understand what it’s used for, and be ready to help patients use it, too. Hospitals and other employers will need people who can bring empathy and compassion (or the “human touch”) to the process of healthcare and AI.
#7: You Can Embrace Technology, Don’t Fear It.
As we’ve seen, employers will be looking for people with a positive attitude towards tech. This is already happening in many facilities, as jobs open up for nurses and clinicians with experience managing remote monitoring or other telehealth programs.
You can expect this trend to continue, as demand increases for workers who can interpret an AI script, or who understand how to use remote blood pressure monitors, oximeters, and other commonly used devices. There’s even a certification program for virtual acute care nursing in the works. Other skills like quality assessment, leadership, management, organization and communication will also be more valuable in the future.
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So, “will robots take my job?” Perhaps the real question is, “how will my job be different in the next five years, and how can I get ahead to improve my career in the process?” If you can master how to use it, you may find that AI and robots aren’t taking over your job at all. Instead, AI can provide you with more healthcare career opportunities than ever before!
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