May 17, 2020

Microsoft announces the private preview of its new health bot project

Microsoft
Global healthcare
USA
Technology
Catherine Sturman
2 min
health bot project
Microsoft, like many technology companies are looking to place significant investment in the healthcare sector due to its untapped potential to be revol...

Microsoft, like many technology companies are looking to place significant investment in the healthcare sector due to its untapped potential to be revolutionised.

The launch of Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT initiative has seen the company go from strength to strength in the development of new tools and technologies to support and empower healthcare professionals, and have now announced the private preview of its new AI powered project, where new partners can participate.

Embedded with authoritative medical content, the healthcare bots are HIPAA compliant, and will interact with customers who want to gain essential health information surrounding their health ailments. This is on top of supporting patients in accessing their symptoms, enable the ability to book appointments and receive vital information surrounding future treatment.

“If you’re using a health bot built by one of our partners as part of our project, you can interact in a personal way, typing or talking in natural language and receiving information to help answer your health-related questions,” Microsoft said.

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Partnering with Aurora Health Care, Microsoft has supported the development of the Aurora Digital Concierge to further see the implementation of exceptional patient care.  The healthcare provider works strenuously to serve communities throughout eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, and has 15 hospitals, 70 pharmacies and over 150 clinics under its umbrella.

Additionally, Microsoft has partnered with Premera Blue Cross, who will use the technology to support and make patients aware of their health benefits, as well as the expansive University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), who are all utilising this new AI technology to transform the healthcare industry. Recently, UPMC announced a $2bn investment in three, world class specialty hospitals focused on cancer, rehabilitation and transplants.

“Aurora Health Care is focused on delivering a seamless experience for our consumers and the health bot allows us to therefore introduce technology to make that happen,” commented Jamey Shiels, Vice President Digital Experience, Aurora Health Care.

“The use of AI allows us to leverage technology to meet consumers where they are; online, mobile, chat, text, and to help them navigate the complexity of healthcare.”

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Jun 16, 2021

Five minutes with Stanley Healthcare's Troy Dayon

AI
elderlycar
machinelearning
remotepatientmonitoring
5 min
Troy Dayon, President of Stanley Healthcare and Stanley Access Technologies, explains how tech can help carers support an aging population

Stanley Healthcare provides technology solutions for caregivers, whether they are in a hospital, a care home, or at home. Here the company's President Troy Dayon explains the challenges carers face and what role technology plays in care for the elderly. 

The healthcare workforce is shrinking while the population is aging. How can this be addressed? 
Not only is the healthcare workforce shrinking, but the industry is facing the issue of overload and burnout among healthcare professionals. 

One major approach to address this is to help each caregiver to accomplish more – not by pushing them harder but by focusing their attention on the things that matter most, harnessing technology such as AI and machine learning. 

This technology provides caregivers with information on what care is needed, and which patients or residents to focus on first based on risk or acuity. The insights that it provides can help caregivers to be more efficient and address issues that would usually require more of their time, such as critical asset location, which takes time away from giving the care where it’s needed most. 

What do healthcare providers need to do to address clinician burnout? 
It is key for healthcare providers to understand the setting and the specific environment in which clinicians have been working. Many hospitals across the globe reconfigured entire wards to treat COVID-19 patients, and for more than a year, clinicians have been working in crisis mode. 

They need the opportunity to return to regular, sustainable routines, supported by technologies that help make them more efficient, but also more fulfilled because they maximise time with patients, applying their hard-earned education and experience to work at the top of their license.

In aged care, the experience of managing a highly contagious and deadly virus has reinforced the need for a proactive approach to managing the health of residents. Caregivers need predictive tools like the Foresite solution to help them understand which residents are at greatest risk, so they can focus their efforts where they can have the most impact. 

How can technology support older people? 
AI-based technology such as Foresite harnesses a range of passive monitoring technologies to develop a baseline profile of a resident in aged care that highlights changes in health or behaviour. This information can help caregivers see where and when they need to spend their time, identifying heightened risk for falls and early indication of heart issues and even infections. 

In fact, the technology has been shown to accurately predict events like falls, which allows intervention prior to an event occurring, rather than just automating routine processes.

Beyond this, connecting caregivers remotely to seniors to provide efficient care outside of traditional care settings is crucial. During the pandemic, there was a marked increase in the use of telehealth and remote monitoring of vitals, medication management and daily health. 

These technologies fill a major gap in healthcare delivery: care for patients once they’ve been discharged from hospital, or for seniors who need some level of care but don’t need to be in an aged care home. By caring for people effectively in their own homes, we can help reduce the burden on hospitals from readmissions and leverage the expertise of aged care organisations beyond the confines of the four walls of the facility. 

A lot of care is in fact delivered by unpaid carers. How can they be better supported with tech?

The remote monitoring technology that professional caregivers have access to can, in turn, also provide information and support to unpaid caregivers. For example, helping ensure a loved one is taking their medication, or knowing when they might be experiencing a change in health that can put them at risk. 

Human observation is inherently limited, no matter how often you see a loved one, and you can’t always rely on what a senior says about themselves. It’s very common that they downplay problems, because no one wants to be a burden or relinquish their independence. 

Remote solutions that connect family to an older relative help increase safety and wellbeing for the senior and reduce the burden on caregivers. They also make possible care decisions based on facts. At some point, a senior may need to transition to an aged care setting, which is often a difficult family conversation. This is an area where we can offer support to unpaid caregivers – reassurance during what is typically a very stressful period for the people providing that care. 

In Japan several large hospitals are deploying robot nurses. Is this a potential solution? 
I think the best path for robotics in healthcare is to focus on the root problem. It’s about dealing with a limited number of caregivers for a population that’s rapidly aging. Robotic technologies offer solutions that support the human healthcare providers with the information they need to make better and faster decisions about care. It’s about convergence and use of technology rather than a specific solution such as a robotic nurse.

This technology could be in the form of AI and machine learning or a robotic agent for routine administrative tasks. Removing low-value activities that distract caregivers from giving care is a key focus when it comes to robotics in healthcare. This automation can free up time for caregivers to spend more time with patients while optimising workflows. 

Robots in this sense don’t replace humans. They are leveraged for what they do well – repetitive routines done with speed and precision – while humans are given the time and space to deliver what ultimately we all want: human-centered care. 

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