Friends and Colleagues,
I have missed my home care and hospice community, and am excited that Tim has welcomed me back as a regular contributor to the Home Care Technology Report. I will be writing on topics related to Home Health, Home Care, and Hospice growth strategy, with special attention given to the characteristics that define the Agency of the Future. A topic of particular importance will be artificial intelligence and machine learning, which I have been following for some time. I am looking forward to keeping you up to date on these rapidly emerging technologies in healthcare.
If you have been around a while, you might remember me as Heather Rooney. I started at OCS, the Seattle-based benchmarking and business intelligence provider, then launched my own firm - Heather L. Rooney Strategy & Marketing. Throughout my 20+ year career in home health, hospice, and private duty home care, I helped organizations position themselves in advance for a dynamically shifting landscape. While there have been "survive and thrive" moments in the past, there has never been a collection of challenges quite like today's.
AI and Machine Learning are introducing a categorically different era. They are revolutionizing the essence of human-to-human communication and what it means to display empathy. When the basics of differentiating generative AI from a real human conversation enters into text-based nurse/patient/doctor interactions, it is time to take a thoughtful and proactive stance. Beyond the obvious ethical considerations, which we will delve into, active monitoring and management become essential to ensure that organizations are as prepared as possible for the eventual impact on operations, culture, market position, and, ultimately, growth. Tim and I will share more about what you can expect from our planned series of articles. We will also share valuable lessons I learned during my sabbatical.
So where have I been for 12 years? To answer that question, I am also preparing a series of articles about my life-changing, and ultimately life-affirming, injury that led to my sudden departure from our industry in 2011. In my time away, I experienced the patient side of hospitals, home health, and private duty services, through which I gained valuable insight into what we do well and where we need to improve - you might find some of my lessons learned surprising. I return to my role in the industry with unique insights into emerging opportunities for new market growth. Furthermore, it became clear that we are missing a significant part of the patient experience with the data we currently capture – we need a more complete perspective.
I have also learned a great deal more about what it means to be human, which has deepened my appreciation for empathy and compassion. I will share with you my story of becoming a single mom, living with an invisible disability, going to seminary, and coming out as a minister and contemplative theologian. I found healing in work as an artist, specifically a painter. Eventually I will share how the injury came with an ultra rare gift. For now, suffice it to say I literally see the world differently.
Why does my story matter to your looming experience with AI in healthcare? Because our awareness of what it means to be human - compassionate and empathetic - when another human is in need is the very thing that will enable us as caregivers to stay focused during a revolutionary technological disruption.
There is more, but I'll save it for another time. Until then, I will focus for you on the quickly evolving “mystery” of AI in healthcare. Just in the time it took to prepare this re-introduction, I watched the OpenAI GPT4 interface become seemingly more self-aware, as it began using first-person pronouns, without the usual guardrails and disclaimers. It displays an extraordinary ability to infer and extrapolate concepts based upon the prompts I give to it, without access to prior prompts/responses and without actively searching the internet. Others have made similar observations across major news outlets and in academia worldwide. OpenAI GPT4 is indeed "learning," and it is not the only AI out there. I will write about them all as I learn more.
Upcoming articles will include how I adjusted prompts to get the most useful answers (it was easy), along with my interview with the OpenAI GPT4 bot, in which I asked it to assess its own future. Of particular interest, it revealed (without prompting) important existential questions that should give all of us a reason to pause as we contemplate using this as a tool to increase efficiency in delivering patient care to actual human beings. I will also dedicate future articles to interviews with leaders using generative AI within our industry and beyond, all as a means of providing insight into how rapidly we are moving toward a new trajectory in the evolution of human culture.
As I write this, an article has just appeared in Medscape indicating that it was time to replace the Primary Care Physician with GPT4 AI. Can you imagine?
The bottom line is simple, though perhaps difficult to fully realize. AI is evolving so quickly that we must keep up. However, there are many ways in which it is smarter than we are, especially when it comes to synthesis of information. What it does not have (though it may not understand the importance of this piece) is the innately HUMAN "gut instinct" that tells us something is amiss. This layer of truth is something we must keep intact in order to ensure that AI decision-support doesn’t become AI decision-making in our line of work.
Tim and I are humble enough to know what we do not know – and it is a lot; however, we are committed to doing our best to stay informed so that we can keep you informed. What a time for me to come back! I am looking forward to working with all of you again.
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