Dallas-headquartered Elara Caring, which offers home health, non-medical personal care, hospice and behavioral health services to 64,000 patients across 17 states, began using similar technology from Santa Clara, California-based ServiceNow a few months ago. The company said matching staff members with clients in this fashion improved the caregiving experience for all parties involved. It plans to roll out the technology to its home health and hospice units later this year.
Elara Caring said it will likely test other AI technologies, such as voice recognition software that produces written documentation, that could help nurses reduce the time they spend on paperwork.
“The whole objective here is to be the easiest place to work," said Elara Caring Chair and CEO Scott Powers about the company's use of AI. "This is how we can differentiate ourselves.”
AI to fill care gaps
Home health agencies also are using AI technologies to fill care gaps when a worker cannot be onsite 24/7.
Over the summer, Greenwood Village, Colorado-headquartered Homewatch CareGivers, which provides home health, hospice and personal care services in 41 states, conducted a four-month pilot of a tool that uses AI to collect data on patient movement and respiration. The insights can help the company determine if the patient's health is declining and if they potentially require additional care. After 90% of patients reported satisfaction with the tool during the pilot, the company plans on an organization-wide rollout within the next few months.
“It really provides us with a large amount of data on the [back end] to understand the care needs of the clients in our care and being able to advance the level of care they are receiving,” said President Todd Houghton of the software, which he declined to name before the system-wide launch.
Similarly, technologies developed by Sensi AI and Livindi use in-home sensors to detect when a patient is moving around more than normal or using the bathroom multiple times during the day—possible indications of an illness. An alert is then sent to the home care company or a family member who can then ensure that the patient receives medical attention if necessary.
AI technology for home healthcare is currently a fraction of the $20 billion healthcare technology industry, according to Vince Vickers, national healthcare advisory leader at business consultancy KPMG US. But Vickers said he thinks the market share will expand as companies find other ways to use it.
Hospital-at-home technology company Inbound Health rolled out an AI-powered tool three months ago designed to help hospitals more quickly identify which patients are good candidates for hospital-at-home programs using electronic medical records. The company is also developing technology it hopes to deploy next year that will cull clinical data from hospital-at-home patients to help doctors and nurses more rapidly determine if patients may require more intensive medical care.
While AI can speed processes, Inbound CEO Dave Kerwar stressed clinicians, not technology, must ultimately shape patient care and decision-making.
“AI should never replace a job," said Kerwar. “It should just make the work that goes into doing those jobs more efficient.”
Some patients have also expressed concerns about privacy. Fellowship Life encountered resistance from some older adults when the Basking Ridge, New Jersey home care agency rolled out motion sensors for clients two years ago.
Elizabeth Fandel, the nonprofit’s chief marketing and innovation officer, said the agency had to educate clients on the advantages of using AI versus having a caregiver with them several hours a day.
“Some seniors are a little intimidated by technology,” Fandel said. “Once they get it, they are a lot more accepting of it.”