HEALTHCARE AT HOME:
THE  ROWAN TECHNOLOGY REPORT

Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

by James Cohen

Studies have found that early technology adopters are more likely to experience better business outcomes, including increased revenue growth and market position. The same studies have shown that health and home care are the least likely to be early adopters among industry verticals. Artificial Intelligence is widely used in all kinds of health related aspects, to note the largest concentrated usage is cardiology, neurology and oncology.

So how can Artificial Intelligence be utilized in home care?  

First, let’s start with what is Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. Most AI examples that you hear about today – from chess-playing computers to self-driving cars – rely heavily on deep learning and  machine learning. When using these technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.

Patricia W. Tulloch RN, BSN, MSN, HCS-D, Senior Consultant of RBC Limited of Healthcare & Management Consultants suggests that, "Home Care is really at the beginning of integrating AI into care services. The use of AI to analyze critical clinical data is currently used to perform acuity risks and support clinical practices that address patient risks to reduce emergent care and hospitalization. The updated HomeCare CoPs requires providers to determine emergent care & re-hospitalization risks and address patient specific diversion strategies and interventions in their Plan of Care. The goal here is proactive early identification to reduce unnecessary emergent care."

What are some successful applications in AI with homecare?

IBM's Watson—an AI platform famous for beating human Jeopardy! has been piloted  by a home care provider to gather and analyze patients' data in order to ensure that they are in the most appropriate care setting, whether in a skilled nursing facility or at home. The home care provider believes that home-based artificial intelligence has a significant role to play in driving down health care costs. The algorithms capture a myriad of metrics which in turn generate a variety of predictions to create better health and economic outcomes.

Formal caregivers are the backbone and front-line workforce in the homecare industry. Artificial Intelligence has been successfully utilized in the education sector in several ways. AI will also provide personalized tutoring for learner's outside of the classroom. When learner's, such as the caregiver workforce, need to reinforce skills or master ideas before a case, AI will be able to provide them with the additional tools they need for success.  AI will also work in identifying the learner's weaknesses. For instance, AI will identify if and when groups of caregivers miss certain questions letting the home care agencies know which material needs to be retaught. In the same manner, AI will also hold the individuals who designed the courses accountable and strengthen best teaching practices and instructional design.

The Challenges of AI in Homecare

There is ample data available in the healthcare field, the issue lies that the data is many times in different databases. As well, to be effective, the data should be accurate, uniform, and complete, which is not always the case in the healthcare field. In a world where reimbursements are tight, budget constraints become a barrier. It is costly to maintain current technologies, let alone invest in new technologies.

Finding the right equilibrium between human touch and machine learning is a big ethical issue. Will machines ever replace humans? To what extent will machine learning replace medical practitioners?  

In healthcare, human judgment is said to be a lot more valuable than any insights Artificial Intelligence can derive, regardless of technological advances.

Getting Truth from Machine Learning

Jonathan Conaghan, Vice President with J.N. Savasta Corp., an employee benefit consulting firm in New York. believes that "Data driven decision making is revolutionizing the way those in the homecare space are approaching their HR function. In an industry whose workforce is its greatest asset, it is critically important to understand how to leverage data to improve areas such as recruitment and retention. Data definitively shows homecare operators that make an investment in employee benefit offerings see improved employee satisfaction. Turnover is consistently high across the industry, and data supports that companies who offer high value benefits see significant improvement in their employee retention metrics." 

There are emerging technologies in the home and health care field which will assist in providing better unit economics along with better health outcomes. The early adopters to these technologies will reap benefits.  As the saying goes--the numbers don't lie!

 

James Cohen is the Co-founder and CEO of Nevvon, a software developer of mobile learning solutions for caregivers. He is a homecare expert who has dedicated the last 10 years of his career to serving the fastest growing–and most vulnerable–segment within the healthcare industry. A former financial engineer, James has held a variety of executive leadership positions in healthcare administration, strategic development and operations. He sits on a National Brain Injury Board and is often speaking at health events.

 

This article was reprinted in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report by permission of the author. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. editor@homecaretechreport.com