Telemedicine meets artificial intelligence at bedside | Artificial intelligence

Henry Ford Village, the largest senior living facility in Michigan with more than 900 residents in Dearborn, has signed a contract with SimpleC to conduct a pilot program using Companion with 20 independent living residents who have chronic diseases, said Bruce Blalock, the Village’s executive director.

Integrity Home Health in Troy will participate as the Village’s preferred home health provider, said company founder John Byrne.

McLaren Health Management Group and about 20 of its 100 palliative care patients also will participate in a three- to six-month pilot project starting in October, CEO Bart Buxton said.

For McLaren’s palliative care patients, who are homebound and on strict therapy regimens, Buxton said consistency in care is very important to extend their lives as long as possible and reduce trips to the hospital. Current care now includes phone reminders and visits from providers to encourage they stay on their therapy regimen.

“We think this (system) will be more interactive. If a family says we can’t manage the in-between time, (they ask) what are our options?” Buxton said. “The only option is (hiring) private duty (nurses). We think (Companion) will give them another option.”

Deb Sattler, director of Windsor-Essex Compassion Care Community, said the community also is in discussions with SimpleC Companion about testing the device in a pilot program. She said using the telehealth device could help the elderly and disabled people stay in their homes.

“We hope it will help improve their quality of life as part of our program to reach the elderly, disabled or isolated,” Sattler said.

Of some 1,000 people in the community, Sattler said more than 300 have been matched with community volunteers to help them. Volunteers and family members make regular visits to people in their homes. But the Companion device can give a sense of 24-7 support and connections outside of the regular aspects of care, she said.

“It brings that human touch. I love the use of music, person pictures, gentle reminders,” she said. “People can support themselves, make decisions to help themselves. They just sometimes need a little help.”

Sattler, who also is team manager of the Canadian Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, said the community hopes to start testing 10 of the devices this fall. “Probably 5 to 10 percent of the 400,000 population” in Windsor could use a device like this, she said. If it works, Sattler said it is possible the model might be used in other communities in Canada.

Blalock said he signed up to test Companion at the Village because of the potential to reduce unnecessary ambulance trips to the hospital for his residents. With 900 residents that range in age from 62 to 105, Blalock said the Village has 650 hospital admissions per year and two ambulance trips per day.

“This gives us an opportunity to give a piece of technology to our residents to stay as independent as possible,” Blalock said. “It will help foresee as many problems as possible; and allow communication with nurses and doctors to unnecessary trip to hospital as possible.”

Blalock said the Village hasn’t yet decided how to price Companion, either as a fee directly to the residents or baked in as part of the rent. The pilot will be test on 20 residents with congestive heart failure, diabetes and some dementia for three months, he said.

“A hospitalization for an 83-year-old can be traumatic. Everybody says once they go to the hospital they are usually less than they were. We are trying to do what we can to prevent that,” Blalock said.

Byrne, who also is a Village board member, said he is a big fan of telehealth because of how it extends caregivers into homes of his home health clients.

“If we can drive more care in the home, we can keep people out of the hospital. The majority of issues are not clinical. They are social. The elder person is anxious, and just talking with the caregiver, doctor, nurses to get comfortable helps a lot,” said Byrne, who founded Integrity in 2005 after his father had a near-death experience.

“I ordered home care and within 48 hours we had doctors and nurses in the home, looking after Dad. It looked like an inpatient unit more than a home,” said Byrne, adding that his mother told him: “You saved Dad’s life.”

Lasser said the Companion has been shown to stimulate positive memories in patients that encourages compliance with health care orders without the use of medications.

“The Companion application can improve health and reduce costs by using artificial intelligence for cognitive and behavioral health issues,” Pompilio said.

The use of artificial intelligence in medical software programs is just beginning. For example, Ann Arbor-based Fifth Eye Inc. is developing software to warn medical professionals that certain patients who seem to be doing well after an operation are actually, based on almost imperceptible changes in their vital signs, at risk for serious deterioration in their conditions.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by Mark Salamango, are using to analyze patient data to show it is possible to predict if a patient is crashing, known as hemodynamic instability, Crain’s has reported. The technology combines the much better signal-to-noise ratio in current electrocardiography with machine learning and the ability of computers now to affordably process large volumes of data in real time.

The NYU School of Medicine and Facebook Research are conducting joint research to reduce the time for MRI scans. MRI scans provide a greater level of detail than other medical imaging, but it can take 15 minutes to more than an hour compared with a minute or less for X-rays and CT scans.


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