Empowering Nurses with AI: The Path to Enhanced Healthcare

Stephanie Frisch
Stephanie FrischApril 16th, 20244 min read

In the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare, the fusion of nursing with artificial intelligence (AI) is a burgeoning reality. My recent interview with Dr. Lisiane Pruinelli, a pioneering nurse scientist and educator who sits at the intersection of patient care and AI, has further ignited my passion for this groundbreaking journey. In this blog post, I’d like to share my takeaways from this enlightening discussion.

Enhancements, Not Replacements

As we delve into the realms of AI-enhanced patient care, it's crucial to recognize the symbiotic relationship between technology and nursing — a partnership where AI must serve as an extension of our care, not a replacement. Dr. Pruinelli's work at the University of Florida College of Nursing and College of Medicine, emphasizes the development of AI models for improving patient outcomes and is a testament to the potential of technology to enhance the quality of care as well as staff satisfaction

“Nurses learn how to build very critical decision making skills and how to advocate for patients,” Dr. Pruinelli pointed out. “But we are still spending a lot of time with tasks. And those tasks can be very easily solved by technology. And along with that, we can also help nurses have a more pleasant job — where they can enjoy more and feel that the job is more rewarding.”

I couldn’t agree more. Technology has a tremendous potential to help nurses reconnect with their original purpose — a topic I explored last year in this article published in Healthcare Business Today

The transformative power of AI in nursing is profound. I hear daily about how nurses at our partner hospitals are using AI to communicate estimated wait times, respond to service requests, and greatly simplify lab results and discharge instructions so clinicians can have more productive conversations with patients. 

Health Literacy for Patients, AI Literacy for Nurses

This shift toward AI-enabled healthcare is not just about technology adoption; it's about elevating the nursing profession to new heights of efficiency and empathy. As Dr. Pruinelli points out, education has emerged as a pivotal theme in our journey toward integrating AI into nursing. 

“When nurses need to advocate for patients, we need to make sure that nurses understand data science literacy, not just health literacy,” Dr. Pruinelli said. “By the end of this academic year, we plan to deliver a toolset of key data and data literacy concepts that we can leverage for different levels of nurses. Because the bedside nurse will need to know one thing, but the leader will need to know something else. And the educator differs, and a researcher, and someone working on quality improvement. So there are different layers there, and everyone will need to know different pieces that are more tailored to their job, to their work, and how that is related to the patient.”

It's imperative that we equip our nurses with the knowledge and tools to harness AI effectively. By embedding AI literacy into nursing curricula, we ensure that the next generation of nurses is not only proficient in utilizing AI but also adept at innovating and adapting to new technologies. This educational foundation will empower nurses to lead from the forefront of healthcare innovation.

Nurses’ Role in Evaluating AI Applications for Care Delivery

The real magic happens when nurses are given a seat at the table in the evaluation and implementation of AI applications in healthcare settings. Nurses possess invaluable insights into the intricacies of patient care that are critical in shaping the development and application of AI technologies. Involving nurses in the decision-making process ensures that AI solutions are practical, relevant, and truly cater to the needs of both patients and healthcare providers. It's about creating a collaborative ecosystem where nurses are not just end-users but co-creators of AI solutions.

Highlighting initiatives like the Nursing and Artificial Intelligence Leadership (NAIL) Collaborative, Dr. Pruinelli stressed the importance of equipping nurses with the necessary tools and knowledge to not only use technology but also have a say in its development and implementation.

“We try to foster awareness for nurses in how to use technology, and to build on this knowledge so that nurses can feel comfortable and request a seat at the table to participate in the lifecycle of technology development,” she said of the NAIL Collaborative. “We believe that if nurses don't do that, it's hard to understand later on how to use that technology. So, we want nurses to participate more in the early stages of these technologies, as well as bring forward the problems that they have every day that technology, AI, or machine learning can actually help them solve.”

Final Thoughts

As we stand at the precipice of this AI revolution in healthcare, it's an exhilarating time to be a nurse. The potential of AI to enhance patient care, streamline operations, and enrich the nursing profession is immense. But to unlock this potential, we must advocate for the involvement of nurses in every step of AI integration — from conception to implementation. By doing so, we ensure that AI in healthcare is not just innovative but also intuitive, inclusive, and instrumental in advancing patient care.

The future of nursing is bright, and AI is a beacon leading the way. Together, we can redefine healthcare, making it more efficient and empathetic. Let's embrace this journey with open arms and curious minds, ready to transform the world of nursing for the better.

Watch my full 20-minute interview with Dr. Pruinelli.

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