Honoring Florence Nightingale with a bot

Featured image: Wikipedia

Florence Nightingale, who was born on this day in 1820, was not only the founder of modern nursing — she was also a data scientist. Appalled by the conditions in the army hospitals of her day, Nightingale pioneered the use of statistics to quantify the inadequacies of military healthcare. She employed innovative charts to communicate her message, and ultimately her public-health campaign helped save thousands of lives.

And so to celebrate Nightingale’s birthday, we made her the perfect gift: A bot.

Nightingale was the woman who defined her profession, and 14 million nurses around the world follow the trail she blazed. But too often, they diminish their important contributions to healthcare. And that’s where our bot comes in.

At Figure 1, a global case-sharing platform for healthcare professionals, we constantly see nurses making valuable contributions to clinical discussions. But too often, they diminish those contributions by saying “I’m just a nurse” or “I’m only a nurse.”

Now, when the phrase “just a nurse” is detected in a case discussion, our bot will automatically respond that “There’s no such thing as ‘just’ a nurse. Nurses are vital members of the healthcare team and valued contributors to the Figure 1 community.”

As a doctor, I am well aware that nurses typically spend more time with patients than other members of the care team. The information they gather directly informs care decisions, and their clinical expertise is essential for healthcare to work properly . It’s just as essential for our app to work properly — nurses sharing what they see and know with our community of one million healthcare professionals around the world has helped save lives.

One way nurses do this is through their close relationship with their patients. Catherine Griffin, a registered nurse in Tennessee who uses Figure 1, explains it this way: “It is often the nurse that notices minute changes in the patient’s condition that can lead to either positive or negative outcomes.” This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever been hospitalized or visited a loved one in the hospital. Whether it’s a change in behavior or an unusual pattern on an electrocardiogram, everyone benefits from the attention to detail that is a hallmark of the nursing profession.

In the words of one internal medicine physician on Figure 1: “I hate when you guys say ‘just a nurse.’ What would I do without all the high-quality nurses who work with me? Every day would be a lost battle.”

Florence Nightingale witnessed battles both real and metaphorical as a nurse in the Crimean War. She devoted her life to healing the wounds of those battles, both in frontline care and by using the technology of her time to improve healthcare on a grander scale. This is exactly what we’re doing at Figure 1, which is why we’re proud to honor her legacy as a pioneer in both healthcare and data science by officially banning the phrase “just a nurse.”


Dr. Sharon Vorona is Medical Director at Figure 1, a global case-sharing app for healthcare professionals.