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Virtual Nursing: The New Trend In Patient Care

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Virtual nursing is an idea that may be hard to imagine. Picture Rosey, the robot from the old TV show “The Jetsons.” She talked and assisted the family with everyday tasks. Could this work for nursing? 

While you might gather different things for patients or feel that maybe a machine could do some of these tasks, nursing is a career of compassion and caring that cannot be replaced by a machine. But, maybe there is a place for this technology.  

Do you think a nurse avatar could help in your nursing unit? 

 

What is a Nurse Avatar? 

Nurse virtual avatars are computer generated tools used to provide care for the patient. The avatars mimic some of the activities nurses do such as: 

  • Giving patient educational information 
  • Accessing patient information 
  • Providing facial expressions when listening (like head nodding) 

 Believe it or not, studies show that patients like working with the nurse avatar models. The patient asks the machine questions, much like talking to “Siri” or “Google.” which is a common practice today. These machines can help you too, by relieving some of the tasks from your busy daily to-do list.  

 

Nurses Like Them 

Can you picture a nurse avatar on your unit? What tasks could be delegated to them?  

Nurses often can’t focus on their patients as much as they would like due to staffing issues. Sometimes tasks take up a lot of time. Even after completing all of the nursing tasks, it’s custom for nurses to exit a room stating, “Can I get you anything else?” The answers vary from a glass of water, ginger ale, popsicle, or a warm blanket. 

In a recent study, nurses were skeptical about using nurse avatars, but once they used them, they quickly saw the benefits. The nurse avatars helped nurses by collecting information and assisting with discharges, which can be time-consuming. Nurse avatars can help bridge the gap between delayed discharges and nursing shortages. 

 

Nurse Avatars Can’t Replace Nurses 

It’s mind-boggling to think a robot can perform surgery, but it can’t replace a nurse. So, your job is safe – at least for now. Too many human factors go into the nursing process where nurses use judgment and make decisions based on morals, not a workflow or standard model. If patient advocacy is needed, machines can’t provide it. Nurses collaborate with physicians and members of the healthcare team to deliver the best options to patients.  

Nurses know what is best for their patients. They possess qualities like compassion and caring that a machine can’t possess. Nurses sit at bedsides, hold patients hands, and listen to stories about their patients’ lives. Maybe someday machines will be able to do some of those things, but patients won’t like talking to machines over humans. 

With technology on the rise, new gadgets will always be created. Embrace the changes, like nurse avatars, that come to healthcare but know that nurses will never be replaced by machines.  

 

Virtual Nursing: The New Trend In Patient Care
Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.

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