The healthcare industry is in a period of rapid change. Between the staffing crisis, rampant burnout and large non-medical corporations like Amazon and Walmart making bold entrances, forward-thinking, agile organizations must become technological trailblazers to come out stronger on the other side.
In the next few years, health systems will either become disruptors, or they will be disrupted. Healthcare has always been conservative in adopting modern technologies, but digital tools are here to stay in the age of Big Data. Organizations that position themselves to embrace advancements will be the ones that can weather the massive changes coming for the industry. By bringing modern technology into their processes today, hospitals can position themselves to fundamentally transform their care delivery and be ready for the next age of medical technology.
The gift of AI: More information, better care
Technology will never replace the doctors, nurses and technicians that save patient lives, but it can multiply the impact of just one nurse or doctor. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools bring the right information to the right person faster than ever before, allowing care teams to work proactively instead of reactively. AI’s unique edge in healthcare is its ability to analyze massive amounts of data quickly and deliver actionable results. AI tools are often used in pharmaceutical development and medical research.
Still, use cases for AI in acute care open the door to improving care quality and rebalancing staff workloads, especially for nurses, in unprecedented ways. These insights allow human clinicians to make informed decisions much earlier in the development of an illness or injury — and, in some cases, to prevent a condition from happening at all.
Risk-prevention strategies using AI are already alleviating patient discomfort, saving nurses time and improving hospital budgets. A recent AI fall prevention solution uses LIDAR (laser imaging, detection and ranging) sensors to monitor patients and prevent falls. The AI engine reviews real-time data for the specific patient movements that indicate a bed or chair exit. When detected, the AI can alert nurses 31 to 60 seconds before the patient exits the bed, allowing the nurse to arrive and assist the patient — reducing falls without increasing staffing. Proactive AI tools are in line with the growing need for solutions that operate autonomously.
Broadening acute AI applications
Fall prevention is only the beginning of how AI can transform nursing workloads. AI monitoring tools can be applied to protect a patient’s quality of care and alert nurses to the first signs of deterioration. Vitals monitors with AI analysis can both keep records up to date without increasing nurse rounding and indicate concerning changes in vitals much faster than standard rounding. These tools can be used to catch sepsis earlier, prevent pressure ulcers and automatically keep patient records updated with EMR integration.
Patient experience can also be substantially upgraded by using AI to complement quality-of-life care. AI assistants modeled after Siri or Alexa can allow patients to order food, request medications, order creature comforts like blankets, or ask to speak with a nurse or doctor about a particular symptom. Patient experience solutions show that technology is not about bringing cold science to medicine but enabling greater personalization and comfort in acute care.
Adopt to overcome
Periods of rapid change forge the future of an industry, and we can safely say that the last few years have seen massive changes in healthcare. Even before the pandemic, staffing crises were breaking across acute and post-acute care, and serious conversations were brewing about mental health, medical training conditions, compensation and how to build a sustainable structure to care for an increasing population of older adults.
The most influential tool available to the healthcare industry is AI-based technology because of its versatility, rapid development and use of data. Those who choose not to start their digital journey today may not have the resources to match stride in the future. On the other hand, those who embrace technology are fostering a culture of innovation and will have teams and structures poised to take the next big leap into the future of healthcare.
Learn more about how AI is changing acute care at www.virtusense.ai/.