Not just robots in seal form: What AI brings to care

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Artificial intelligence (AI) can do a lot of good in care, but according to experts it is still used too little. “We have to research AI in nursing more, because we have more and more people in need of care and fewer and fewer nurses,” said Johannes Hofmann, the nursing director at the Accident Clinic in Frankfurt, the German press agency. AI systems could support caregivers and keep them in the job longer.

Today, AI systems are mainly used for office activities, explained Hofmann in the run-up to a meeting of the BG accident clinics on September 23 and 24: Electronic care documentation identifies risk factors such as bedsores, outpatient care services use it to plan their tours, and hospitals their duty rosters.

Anyone who thinks of robots when referring to AI is still not wrong: “Paro” in the form of a seal is intended to arouse emotions in dementia patients, and “Pepper” to communicate with residents of old people’s homes. Cleaning or disinfection robots are less sensational. In general, these things have been used “rather hesitantly” so far, said Hofmann.

There are some promising products on the market as prototypes, said Hofmann – for example a mattress that monitors that the patient is not sore, or an exoskeleton that helps with movement exercises. Robotic arms that support nursing staff when positioning patients are also very useful.

The main advantage of AI applications in nursing is “that they run 365 days, 24 hours,” said Hofmann. However, there are also limits: The strict data protection requirements in Germany are an obstacle. In addition, robots, for example, cost a lot of money, and that is scarce when it comes to maintenance. The most important disadvantage, however, is “that a computer has no social skills – and that is extremely important in care.”


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