Nursing, Soft Skills and Artificial Intelligence: Robot Replacement Challenges and Care of Aging Populations

Carmen Sarabia


The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in countries such as Japan has led to extensive use of AI applications in all areas of healthcare. The rapid proliferation of AI in healthcare is striking. Japan, the country with the oldest population in the world, along with Greece, China and France, are developing robots to assist, provide support or replace the work of doctors in diagnosing and treatment of patients using big data. These trends are also affecting the work of nurses providing services to all patients, but particularly the elderly. A pending question of major concern for Human Centered Management is whether robots will be able to acquire and deploy Soft Skills to the same or similar extent that nurses do. In other words, will robots replace human nurses? And if so, to what extent? Recent studies indicate that emotions and human contact can be programmed, but substantial research is needed to corroborate these findings. This chapter takes a close look at the implementation of robotics in the healthcare sector by exploring alternatives to replacing healthcare professionals with robots. One of the aims is to explore future AI advances, including queries regarding Soft Skills as unique human skills, whether robots can develop Soft Skills and the consequences if it is revealed that Soft Skills can be programmed. Then, this raises the question of why some complex Soft Skills are so difficult for human beings to learn? (Lepeley & Albornoz, 2013, Massaro et al., 2013). Moreover, robotics may help us to better understand what makes us human and how people can learn Soft Skills by studying the impact of robots on the nursing profession that uses Soft Skills extensively.

Background: The Past Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare

Are we moving toward high-tech healthcare? An affirmative answer seems to set the future trend in provision of care and socio-sanitary support to older people in Europe (Sanderson et al., 2017).

The interaction of events including a fast-growing, aging population across European countries (Marois et al, 2020), along with the increasing use of AI in hospitals around the world, suggests that healthcare is one of the sectors making the most intensive use of AI applications (Zhavoronkov et al., 2019). From powerful diagnostic algorithms to fine-tuned surgical robots, the use of technology is notable in all medical fields.

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