How To Improve The Work Environment of Nurses With Robots

Can robots really make a significant difference in the patient care environment and improve the workplace for nurses and the care team? The answer is simple, YES. Robots can improve outcomes for both patients and the care team in a number of ways. Robots can have an impact on both individual nurses and the organization by improving efficiency and saving time for low to no value added tasks and activities, streamlining care and support tasks, enhancing patient care, providing continuous monitoring, and more.

What kinds of Robots?

At this point when we talk about robots in-use in healthcare, we are often talking about surgical robots, and to a lesser extent service robots. Surgical robots have been on the scene for nearly fifteen years at this point and have safely and accurately been assisting surgeons in the operating rooms for many years in a consistent capacity.

Service robots, while not as widely used, represent tremendous potential. These robots are meant to identify low-level, redundant, repetitive tasks and provide this function in place of a nurse or nursing support staff member. Because  over a third of a nurse’s time is spent on these tasks, it goes without saying that this can be a significant amount of time saved, thus freeing nurses up to spend more time with their patients. Robots are perfectly suited for redundant behavior and no-value-added tasks such as delivering medications, meal trays, admission kits, telemetry boxes, and other supplies to patient units.

By Streamlining Tasks

As mentioned previously, there are a lot of what are called ‘no value-added’ tasks in a hospital that nurses must take care of, such as intake outtake forms, medication dispensation, and more. Robots can automate many of these routine activities, freeing up nurses to focus on more complex tasks that require human interaction, decision-making, and direct patient care. The time saved by medication dispensation and delivery robots alone is significant. No longer would nurses have to personally walk supplies to or from each patient themselves, or take the time to deliver medication and explain its use.

By Enhancing Patient Care

By reducing the workload and stress on nurses, robots can enhance the quality of patient care by allowing nurses to focus more fully on their patients’ needs. The amount of time freed up by the removal of no-value-added tasks is significant and shouldn’t be ignored, since 36% of a nurse’s time is taken up by this busy work. Nurses would no longer have to spend any time finding things, collecting waste, completing paperwork, form completion, etc. 

Additionally, it is a patent experience enhancement when the patient and their family aren’t waiting for the nurse or other staff member to find a break in what they are doing to leave the unit to fetch the meal, supply or medication to run down to grab it and return to the the unit to deliver it ot the patient. In addition to reducing the wait time for the patient it can expedite throughput by getting discharges out faster.

In summary

Overall, service robots can potentially improve the quality of work and life for nurses by reducing physical strain, enhancing accuracy, streamlining tasks, dispensing medication, enhancing patient care and more. The jobs that robots take care of are busy work that nurses will benefit from no longer being responsible for. The potential of robotic systems, particularly when combined with other systems, is the very real possibility to change healthcare forever.