How nursing leaders expect generative AI to change the profession

Health system nursing leaders told Becker's they're exploring how generative artificial intelligence like ChatGPT can make nurses' jobs easier and expect the technology to alter the profession in the coming years.

Madison, Wis.-based UW Health, for instance, is examining how ChatGPT can assist nurses with inbox management similar to how its physicians are using the technology to draft patient portal messages via a collaboration with Epic and Microsoft.

"In nursing practice, there are additional considerations such as clinical protocols and triage procedures that the nurse follows," said Becky Kohler, BSN, RN, chief nursing information officer of UW Health. "It is important that nurses are part of the development and trial of generative AI solutions so that these unique workflows and considerations of nursing practice and licensure are factored in."

In the future, AI might be able to help nurses gather information from patients and scan EHRs to formulate care plans, Ms. Kohler said.

"ChatGPT and other AI tools will never be able to replace true human decision-making or the direct physical care and empathy that goes with it," said John Fairbaugh, MSN, RN, chief clinical information officer at Pittsburgh-based UPMC. "However, it can help automate questions and answers, decrease time spent in chart reviews and documentation, and improve the quality of patient care. Prompting by these systems will also help nurses identify safety risks sooner, identify missed opportunities for assessment, and assist in identifying when follow-up is recommended."

He said the biggest obstacle to widespread adoption of generative AI in healthcare is how the technology "hallucinates" or makes up facts when it doesn't have an answer, so more study and validation of the platforms are needed.

Donna Woelfel, MSN, RN, vice president and chief nursing information officer of Tacoma, Wash.-based MultiCare Health System, said she can foresee generative AI enhancing nursing education and mentoring, medication administration, documentation efficiency, device integration, alarm management, and predictive analytics and decision-support.

"Healthcare is transforming, and generative AI platforms will be key in supporting this transformation within nursing," Ms. Woelfel said. "But it will be important for nursing informatics to guide the planning, design, implementation, adoption and support of generative AI platforms."

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