Healthcare Workers Deserve Better: Can Artificial Intelligence Help?

CTO of Athena Security.

The vulnerability healthcare workers face from visitors and patients casts a dark shadow over their daily routines. Beyond physical harm, poor working conditions take a toll on their physical and mental well-being, leaving them exhausted and susceptible to burnout.

Moreover, the implications of misdiagnosis can extend beyond the professional realm, burdening healthcare workers with the weight of potential financial consequences.

Amid pressing concerns, artificial intelligence (AI) presents a promising solution for enhancing the safety of healthcare workers in many ways.

AI-Powered Transformation To Safeguard Healthcare Workers

Let’s delve into how AI can introduce innovative safeguards, bolstering the safety of healthcare workers and setting new safety standards in clinics and hospitals.

1. Violence From Patients

Two nurses are being attacked every hour in the U.S. In a specific incident during dinner time, a patient’s agitation over an unmet meal request escalated, leading to a violent act where the nurse’s face was struck with a plastic dinner tray, resulting in severe injuries and bleeding.

Acknowledging the need for preventive strategies, leading hospitals are harnessing AI and machine learning for predictive analytics. These AI tools can foresee potential aggression by assessing patient histories, behavioral patterns and contextual factors, enabling early intervention through de-escalation techniques and timely security alerts.

2. Violence From Visitors

In a tragic incident at the medical complex, a gunman killed five people, including Dr. Preston Phillips, who had previously operated on him. The suspect blamed Dr. Phillips for post-surgery pain.

Violence in hospitals, sometimes driven by a visitor’s mental health or a personal grudge, is unfortunately not a rare occurrence. However, AI-powered security systems can create safer environments for healthcare workers by using advanced sensors, cameras and machine learning models to detect potential threats. These systems provide a frictionless security experience, allowing regular foot traffic while preventing harmful individuals from entering.

Moreover, a recent bill mandates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to establish a federal standard for healthcare and social service employers to develop comprehensive violence prevention plans.

3. Burnout Due To Administrative Tasks

According to Dr. Tait Shanafelt, an oncologist at Stanford University, physicians spend approximately one-third of their time creating notes and reviewing medical records in the electronic health record (EHR). This may be related to bolstering ongoing care to help patients achieve positive health outcomes.

Healthcare organizations can alleviate burnout and enhance working conditions by incorporating AI-based technology in EHR. This way, the huge amount of clinical data available can be obtained in real time from medical devices and records. And the vast amount of data can be quickly and efficiently analyzed and optimally used.

4. Financial Liability Due To Misdiagnosis

Did you know about 6% of ER visits in the U.S. result in incorrect diagnoses? In a real-life incident, a misdiagnosed breast lump led to metastatic cancer, resulting in a $15 million verdict. The reason behind such errors can often be doctors’ fatigue or overwhelming caseload.

AI can be instrumental here, identifying potential health concerns and aiding doctors in their diagnosis process. At Bács-Kiskun County Hospital, Hungary, AI technology flagged potential signs of breast cancer on a mammogram initially cleared by human radiologists. Additionally, a recent study underscores the potential of AI in reconstructing MRI scans faster than conventional methods.

5. Health Conditions Due To Demanding Roles

Due to long and irregular work hours, lack of sleep, a lot of standing, lifting and physical exertion, and high-pressure working environments, healthcare workers commonly face the following:

• Physical Ailments: Back problems and musculoskeletal disorders due to demanding patient care.

• Stress-Related Disorders: Conditions like insomnia, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases from chronic stress.

• Mental Health Issues: Burnout, depression, anxiety and PTSD due to high-pressure environments.

Artificial intelligence (AI) AI can offer predictive insights for proactive health management in the demanding healthcare field.

For physical ailments, AI-integrated wearable technology can identify harmful movement patterns that may lead to disorders. Stress-related disorders can be identified through AI’s analysis of biometrics like heart rate variability and sleep patterns. Meanwhile, mental health issues can be detected through AI platforms analyzing behavioral and speech patterns.

Healthcare Workers Deserve Better!

Day after day, night after night, healthcare workers stand on the front lines, providing care and healing to those in need. They are our real-life superheroes, working in high-stress environments, often at the risk of their own health and safety.

As a society, we owe it to them to do everything in our power to enhance their safety. It is not just a token of gratitude but a moral imperative.

Adopting AI for their safety isn’t just a lofty aspiration, but an urgent necessity. The transformative potential of AI is being realized by major industry players:

HCA Healthcare is investing in the development of AI-enabled solutions that transform patient-clinician conversations into medical notes, thereby reducing clinician burnout.

Massachusetts General Hospital and UCLA Medical Center have embraced the power of AI and machine learning (ML) for predictive analytics to spot the signs of aggression in patients.

Our healthcare workers definitely deserve better, and I’m glad to see the industry working toward this goal! Let’s do our part as well by adopting these tech-savvy security enhancements for our facilities:

1. Opt for an AI-enabled visitor management system to cross-reference incoming guests against databases of known criminals or past disruptive visitors.

2. Install an AI-powered weapons detection system at entry points to automatically keep firearms and other weapons out.

3. For less-trafficked doors, deploy AI mechanisms that auto-lock the entrance if the weapons detection system triggers an alert.

4. Utilize AI to streamline staff management by automating the check-in process at various posts, ensuring only authorized personnel are present.

While AI can be instrumental in bolstering security at our facility’s entryways, responsible usage is key. To that end, ensure our AI systems must not retain data beyond 24 hours, avoid profiling, rely on databases of verified threats, and incorporate human verification for any alerts.

Let’s elevate our facilities’ security responsibly with these intelligent upgrades.

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