The Future of Nursing: AI Can Handle A Third of Nurse Administrative Tasks, Study Finds
- Artificial intelligence may offer solutions to the growing nurse staffing crisis in the US.
- Clinicians have long struggled under the crushing administrative burden of documentation in healthcare.
- A new report suggests that AI may offload up to 30% of administrative tasks from nurses, freeing their time to focus on direct patient care.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help solve the nursing crisis by performing up to 30% of the administrative tasks that often fall to nurses, a new report concluded.
The report from Accenture, a technology services and consulting firm, found that AI can aid in scheduling, communicating, and even caring for patients.
Nurses Need Help
Ask any nurse what they dislike about their current job; Paperwork is likely a common response.
Many healthcare careers include some administrative tasks. But, the documentation requirements for nurses are immense and can contribute to nurse burnout, according to a review.
The nursing shortage is a complex issue, rapidly becoming a public health emergency as nurses leave the profession in droves.
According to a 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study, 20% of the U.S. nursing workforce indicated they will likely leave the profession by 2027.
There are many causes of the nursing shortage, and fixing it will require a multi-pronged approach to increase the number of new nurses and retain the current ones — but technology can help.
While in its infancy, AI may offer concrete solutions to the growing nursing crisis and be particularly helpful in reducing the nursing administration and documentation load.
The Accenture report offers an optimistic view of the potential for AI to reinvent the nursing process and bring relief to nurses in the U.S.
It looked at survey data from 609 clinicians and 4,777 healthcare executives in the U.S. to determine how technology is currently being implemented in healthcare, assess areas for improvement, and identify the heaviest areas of technology burden.
"The nursing shortage is a global health emergency threatening patient access and outcomes," the report stated. "The healthcare workforce has reached a breaking point. We must release the pressure on nurses, improve the nurse and patient experience, and get people the care they deserve."
As nurses, most of us joined the field to heal and care directly for our patients. We had no idea we'd spend most of our time slogging in front of a computer documenting redundant and seemingly never-ending data.
AI & Nursing: Delegation, Not Replacement
Nurses only spend about 21% of their time on direct patient care due to clinical documentation and administrative tasks, according to a 2020 report.
According to Accenture, AI can help relieve the pressure on nurses in three ways.
- Helping with direct patient care, such as assisting patients with their daily routine, providing medication reminders, and answering medical questions
- Assisting with laborious administrative tasks such as staffing and scheduling
- Improving existing technology workflow and integration to maximize clinician efficiency
Nurses' role in healthcare is irreplaceable, as their clinical experience, expert judgment, and personal connection to the patient can't be shortchanged.
However, if nurses can delegate non-essential tasks to AI, they can spend more time in their zone of genius. Nurses know that direct patient care, emotional support, and education make the biggest difference in patient outcomes and experiences.
AI can allow nurses to do more of what matters most to improve patient outcomes, reduce nursing burnout, and build a more robust, satisfied workforce.
The Future of Nursing & AI
There has been significant anxiety in some industries as AI threatens to replace or eliminate many positions in customer service, journalism, and coding sectors.
While those fears are valid, experts say those layoffs are unlikely to affect the nursing field.
It is extremely difficult to replicate the work that nurses do. Most bedside nursing positions are labor intensive and demand equal measures of critical thinking, compassion, and clinical judgment.
U.S. clinicians are also open to technological advances that make their jobs easier.
"Most clinicians (93%) agree that applying automation to remedy time-intensive documentation processes will be beneficial," according to Accenture's report.
The future of nursing includes nurses leveraging technology and using AI to streamline their workflow and increase the time spent performing direct patient care.
Gesner E, et al. The Burden and Burnout in Documenting Patient Care: An Integrative Literature Review. NIH
How talent and technology can help solve the nursing shortage. (2023). Accenture
National Nursing Workforce Study. (2022). NCSBN
Sun C, et al. (2020). How much time do nurses spend using electronic devices at work? ResearchGate
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