Technology will help ease, but not replace, rising workforce demand in long-term care: UCSF study

A just-published research paper by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care, has come to the not entirely unsurprising conclusion that the current technology targeted to the LTC area is helpful but won’t displace any workers from their jobs in the immediate future. The qualitative study evaluated 13 current health tech technologies in 14 areas for their potential impact on the care of older persons as it affects LTC workforce recruitment, training, and retention. 

Some key findings were: 

  • Technology will not even come close to replacing the LTC workforce. At most it will aid LTC workers.
  • Tools such as data collection and remote patient monitoring systems that distribute data to the care team can improve staff’s understanding of client behavior and manage day-to-day tasks
  • Technology can also address workforce recruitment, retention, and staffing efficiency, such as predictive analytics used in identifying candidate suitability, improved staff management in shift scheduling, work location, and clientele, and real time location tracking, can improve the work environment
  • Technologies that monitor health and activity measurements, integrating with predictive modeling, can benefit clients, family caregivers, and care teams, but may suffer from complexity and duplication in their category. 
  • Educational tools also improve care delivery by instructing on proper caregiving techniques, increasing knowledge on medical or behavioral conditions, and by promoting sympathy/empathy

Some of the barriers included:

  • It comes at a cost which LTC is reluctant to pay
    • Initial and ongoing cost with lack of third-party Medicare/private reimbursement
    • Dependence on unattractive long term subscription-based models 
  • Threats to privacy and the security of health data
  • Potential differences in product specificity or acceptance among diverse racial and ethnic groups
  • Technology lacking user-centered design and not developed/tested in conjunction with real-world LTC 
  • Funding: only two US VCs fund LTC tech is a bit of an exaggeration, but the pool of interest is shallow nonetheless

The overall conclusion struck this Editor as less than enthusiastic, perhaps because We’re Not There Yet and it’s still so far away.

The appendix lists the 13 companies surveyed with summaries of each health tech company interviewed: Alma’s House (Sweden), Arena (staffing/recruitment), Canary Health (education/caregiver education), CarePredict (wearables/alert monitoring), Clear Care (management). Embodied Labs (education), Intuition Robotics (ElliQ), GrandCare (monitoring/client engagement), Honor (staffing), La
Valeriane (documentation), LifePod (voicetech/monitoring), UnaliWear (wearables/monitoring), VisibleHand (documentation/EHR).

The study was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).com. UCSF summaryThe Impact of Emerging Technologies on Long-Term Care & the Health Workforce (full text)  Hat tip to Laura Mitchell of GrandCare via Twitter

Themes and trends at Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE 2017

Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE, in San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday 14-15 November, annually attracts the top thinkers and doers in innovation and aging services. It brings together academia, designers, developers, investors, and senior care executives from all over the world to rethink the aging experience in both immediately practical and long-term visionary ways.

Looking at OPTIMIZE’s agenda, there are major themes that are on point for major industry trends.

Reinventing aging with an AI twist

What will aging be like during the next decades of the 21st Century? What must be done to support quality of life, active lives, and more independence? From nursing homes with more home-like environments (Green House Project) to Bill Thomas’ latest project–‘tiny houses’ that support independent living (Minkas)—there are many developments which will affect the perception and reality of aging.

Designers like Yves Béhar of fuseproject are rethinking home design as a continuum that supports all ages and abilities in what they want and need. Beyond physical design, these new homes are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology that support wellness, engagement, and safety. Advances that are already here include voice-activated devices such as Amazon Alexa, virtual reality (VR), and IoT-enabled remote care (telehealth and telecare).

For attendees at Aging2.0, there will be substantial discussion on AI’s impact and implications, highlighted at Tuesday afternoon’s general session ‘AI-ging Into the Future’ and in Wednesday’s AI/IoT-related breakouts. AI is powering breakthroughs in social robotics and predictive health, the latter using sensor-based ADL and vital signs information for wellness, fall prevention, and dementia care. Some companies part of this conversation are CarePredict, EarlySense, SafelyYou, and Intuition Robotics.

Thriving, not surviving

Thriving in later age, not simply ‘aging in place’ or compensating for the loss of ability, must engage the community, the individual, and providers. There’s new interest in addressing interrelated social factors such as isolation, life purpose, food, healthcare quality, safety, and transportation. Business models and connected living technologies can combine to redesign post-acute care for better recovery, to prevent unnecessary readmissions, and provide more proactive care for chronic diseases as well as support wellness.

In this area, OPTIMIZE has many sessions on cities and localities reorganizing to support older adults in social determinants of health, transportation innovations, and wearables for passive communications between the older person and caregivers/providers. Some organizations and companies contributing to the conversation are grandPad, Village to Village Network, Lyft, and Milken Institute.

Technology and best practices positively affect the bottom line

How can senior housing and communities put innovation into action today? How can developers make it easier for them to adopt innovation? Innovations that ‘activate’ staff and caregivers create a multiplier for a positive effect on care. Successful rollouts create a positive impact on both the operations and financial health of senior living communities.

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Toyota’s $14 million bet on Intuition Robotics’ social companion robot (JP/IL/US)

Social companion robots for older adults and the disabled are hot again. Tel Aviv and now San Francisco-based Intuition Robotics is enjoying a $14 million second Series A investment from Toyota Research Institute (TRI) for the ElliQ ‘active aging companion’. The ElliQ desktop robot is tethered to a proprietary tablet to connect an older adult with the outside world via video chat, using machine learning about the person to recommend activities, and assist with appointments, medication reminders, music, wellness, and environmental monitoring. ElliQ is still in pre-release. The $14 million is being put to immediate use in initial testing with users in the Bay Area, and Intuition is ramping up with a team there. 

TRI is based in Los Altos CA and is wholly owned by Toyota North America. Earlier seed and Series A investments totaling $8 million were made by iRobot, Terra Venture Partners, Bloomberg Beta and ManivMobility. This is the second older adult-targeted robotics news in as many weeks, with the more fully-featured and ‘humanoid’ KOMPAÏ in France going the crowdfunding route (as Intuition did early on) for €250,000 to fund the next generation [TTA 5 July]. After viewing the video below, it seems to this Editor that a lot of the interactive voice command technology has been overtaken by assistants already in market like Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. TechCrunch, Home Health Care News