Renae Diggles

May 29, 2024

The Future of AI in Healthcare: Aged Care Technology

Renae Diggles

May 29, 2024

In light of the evidence brought forward as a result of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, it appears that the aged care sector’s under increased stress.  Add the global pandemic into the mix and it’s clear that advancements in aged care technology (notably AI in healthcare) have the possibility to make the system operate more efficiently.

With chronic staff shortages including clinical staff, the system is under extreme pressure. Many aged care providers and aged care facilities have inadequate resources and poor training of staff. Add an underpaid workforce to the mix, and it’s clear that change is required. So, is AI in healthcare the answer to a more efficient system to provide better patient outcomes?

Aged Care Technology Improving Efficiency

Modern technology has the ability to aid in the administration of aged care facilities and organisations. It also has the ability to support ancillary tasks so that time’s utilised efficiently. In fact, artificial intelligence already gets used in hospitals and aged care facilities to detect falls. It’s also in use in some instances to detect and monitor pain through facial recognition technology.

Facial Recognition Technology

According to Professor Jeff Hughes, chief scientific officer at PainChek, the PainChek app “uses facial analysis to detect the presence of facial micro-expressions (action units or AUs) indicative of the presence of pain.”  He also said that: “it allows automatic calculation of a total pain score and the assignment of a pain intensity level.” Such technologies have the ability to enhance patient care.

PainChek emerged from research done at Curtin University in Western Australia. It was in response to the need for accurate pain assessment for those people who were unable to communicate their pain levels. This technology benefits those that suffer from dementia, impacting thousands of lives.

While artificial intelligence has the ability to make the aged care system more efficient in pain assessment and administration tasks, it also has the ability to help people in their own homes.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Home

An artificial intelligence assistive (AI) technology device, by, claims to provide “better than humanly possible care.”

The company’s 100% Australian owned and operated. It also offers some great features that stand out at first glance. There’s definitely a feature that jumps out at people who require assistance in the home. The AI device detects incidents that occur by monitoring behaviour and having the ability to detect abnormal interactions. Once the AI detects abnormal behaviour, an alert is sent to relevant people. This could be nurses, caregivers, or family and friends.

Some of the incidents or abnormal behaviour that the AI device can detect include flu-like symptoms, and falls. Often when older people experience a fall, they don’t have their emergency alert device with them to press a button and notify loved ones or emergency services. The artificial intelligence assistive technology device alerts loved ones to a fall without needing to get to an emergency button to report the incidents. That’s because it detects movements and behaviour.

The Future of AI in Healthcare for the Aged

As discussed, there are obvious benefits to the implementation of artificial intelligence and advances in aged care technology. However, the provision of holistic care that’s consumer-directed is always the priority. It’s apparent that technology can assist older people in their everyday lives. With an increasingly ageing population, one can’t overlook AI and assistive technology in aged care. With improved detection of incidences and the ability to detect distress, along with better management of administrative tasks, is it possible that aged care technology advances are the answer to improved patient outcomes?

Can Aged Care Technology Meet the Needs of Recipients?

Through early and enhanced detection of care needs, do advances in technology actually free up time to focus on patient-centred care and holistic health care? Or is it taking the individual out of the equation and putting everyone into a one size fits all box?

With more and more older people now ageing in place, the focus moves to equip aged care facilities to manage a variety of care needs. Furthermore, with the addition of an increasingly ageing population, the need for aged care facilities to handle the changes increases.

One thing is for sure, that artificial intelligence and advances in technology are part of the future for aged care.

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