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It has made its way into every industry, just as it has made its way into almost every conversation. Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived in home-based care.
Providers, in an effort to stay ahead of the curve, are embracing the new technology. On the way, they are finding out how it can help them deliver better care more efficiently.
There is a learning curve, however.
“For generative AI, it’s a little bit in the eye of the beholder,” Patrick Phillips, senior director of data at Honor, told Home Health Care News. “It’s remarkable what it can do, and I think it’s fascinating the things it fails at doing.”
Founded in 2014, Honor is a home care technology company. It also owns Home Instead, one of the largest home care franchises in the country.
As a data leader, it’s Phillips’ job to make the Honor home care platform smarter, more dynamic and more personalized.
Generative AI can help do that. Essentially, it is a form of AI that is generally used for classification, prediction or optimization tasks, ultimately leading to more efficient and streamlined workflows.
The popular language model ChatGPT is an example of Generative AI.
Honor has delicately dipped its toes into generative AI and has seen some positive results. One example is in after-visit summaries.
“We’re using it to read over every care note, and that way, if there’s a change in physical condition, mental condition, a need for a reassessment of care — it’s really good at doing that,” Phillips said. “We can build models that say, ‘Does this care note describe a decline in mental condition?’ The performance – when we’re using this large language model to power those care notes – is dramatically better than it was with the older versions of the technology.”
Honor had been dabbling in AI for a few years now, but the sophistication of programs like ChatGPT has broadened the scope of what AI can do.
Phillips said it has been a time-saver for caregivers, who often are juggling multiple patients throughout the day.
“Anytime a client is having an escalation in their needs or maybe a slight decline in their physical condition, we want one of our clinical specialists to get there as quickly as they can to reassess,” he said. “You can imagine if you’re a caregiver in the home, there are so many things going on at once, and maybe you forget to write down a care note or tell yourself you’ll do it at the end of the visit. But because we’re using AI now, every time they save a note as they’re drafting it, AI can run through, scan it and identify any number of these escalation events.”
In that sense, AI is helping patients get care when they need it. It’s also assisting caregivers to focus on the more vital parts of their jobs, the human-to-human interactions.
“The best version [of this] is having a care pro look at their phone for five minutes before they go in, the care note is up to date, rich in detail, and it tells them exactly what they need to know in order to be there and be present for the client,” Phillips said. “Using generative AI to put together that first draft has really helped us operate not only more efficiently — which we care about — but also in delivering better and more personalized care.”
Other AI considerations
AI advancements have also piqued the interest of M&A experts and investors.
“We’re encouraging all of our provider portfolio companies to leverage generative AI to the maximum extent possible — not just to help with clinical decision support, but also with back-office efficiencies,” Ting Gu, principal with the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, said on a panel at the Home Care Innovation + Investment Conference in Chicago. “In an environment with reimbursement pressures and labor challenges, AI is going to have a significant role to play in our health care system in terms of unlocking some of that capacity and allowing providers to succeed.”
One provider that has started to invest heavily in AI is Affirmation.
Affirmation — a partnership between LifeSpire of Virginia and Pinnacle Living — is a Virginia-based home health and home care provider.
“The potential to streamline scheduling and resource allocation through AI is a promising endeavor,” Amy Deramus, VP of strategy at Affirmation, told HHCN. “The application of AI holds the key to proactive health monitoring, which will enable us to anticipate potential health concerns and intervene proactively, ultimately leading to enhanced health outcomes and well being.”
Like Phillips, Deramus hopes AI can help Affirmation caregivers focus more on direct patient care, while the technology assists in automating routine administrative tasks like documentation, scheduling and reporting.
She also said that AI has benefited the company’s marketing efforts. Specifically, it’s helped streamline presentations, website content and blogging.
Of course, providers are still mostly approaching AI with cautious optimism.
“It continues to blow my mind in how well it summarizes phone calls,” Phillips said. “It allows our care pros to have up-to-date, accurate information as they’re walking into a visit. But like all of these things, it’s not the technology, but how you use it. We’re leaning into it, we’re finding out that it’s really good at a lot of things — but it absolutely doesn’t replace the personal nature of home care.”