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The pros and perils of AI use in care

Originally used to execute simple menial tasks, artificial intelligence has become so sophisticated over the years that it’s now used in every conceivable context, from driving to learning to medicine, and beyond.

The care sector has not remained untouched by the AI revolution. In homes and nursing units around the country, AI is delivering lifesaving and life-affirming solutions welcomed by overtaxed staff. But at what cost?

AI trials in care homes have been met with impressive results

Havering Care Homes engaged in a successful pilot of AI software Feebris, with impressive results. Feebris uses technology to gain health insights into patients before producing a National Early Warning Score (NEWS2), which measures a patient’s acute illness risk. The trial resulted in a 23% reduction in emergency calls, and a reduction from 12% down to 2% in ‘avoidable’ GP visits.

A separate AI pilot trialled in select London care homes showed that AI can work more than just preventatively, and provide rescue efforts in real time. The AI software used a camera that would analyse typical movement and noise patterns in the care home at night, before alerting staff for any atypical movement or noise. The results of the trial showed a 20% reduction in hospital admissions and reduced ‘unnecessary’ staff checks by 75%.

Intelligent care: how one care provider is using artificial intelligence in their nursing homes (skillsforcare.org.uk)

Technology in Care Homes – 9 Digital Innovations in Care Homes (theaccessgroup.com)

The perils of AI in care

While AI can alleviate some of the pressures on the care sector, it’s by no means a perfect solution.

As with any computer-based system, privacy concerns are a key issue in the use of AI in care spaces. While health monitoring systems have proven their efficacy, its benefits shouldn’t come at the expense of patient consent. AI tech like CarePredict, for example, allows staff to monitor patients from behind closed doors, even if they’re using the toilet. In cases like this, particularly if a patient is uncommunicative, how can they consent to the recording of their intimate data?

AI software has become so advanced that some tech can even read pain in nonverbal patients so it can alert staff, but what of neurodivergent patients, who often express pain differently to neurotypicals and who therefore might fall between the cracks?

, 5 The future of elder care is here – and it’s artificial intelligence | US news | The Guardian

Full article: Co-Occurring Physical Health Challenges in Neurodivergent Children and Young People: A Topical Review and Recommendation (tandfonline.com)

In one case where AI was used in an independent living residence for the elderly, gerontologist Dr. Clara Berridge found that some residents were so lonely they would ‘game the system’ so they could talk to the human operator.

It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the importance of having real people deliver care. Although AI is advancing at a rapid rate, there is as of yet no substitute – nor is there close to being one – for the warmth of human connection.

 

To find out how Towergate Insurance could assist you, please call Richard Barnes on 07768 314 298 or email richard.barnes@towergate.co.uk

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