Amanda Spence, RN, poses with Moxi at ChristianaCare. Five of these robot devices are helping to make deliveries in hospital units, freeing up nurses for more direct patient care activities. (Photo courtesy of Megan McGuriman/ChristianaCare)
When Intermountain Healthcare’s call centers became overwhelmed in March 2020 with people asking about COVID-19 symptoms, the team turned to artificial intelligence, the Washington Post reported. Specifically, a chatbot — a computer program designed to simulate human conversation called Scout. The technology allowed people to describe their symptoms while the chatbot matched their responses to possible diagnoses to ask relevant follow-up questions or suggest actions for the patient to take.
It’s one of several technologies that were greatly accelerated during the pandemic and continue to be gaining ground in the face of an ongoing pandemic, an aging population, shrinking caregivers, health care worker burnout and resignations, and other factors.
Journalists can find interesting stories by investigating the various uses of chatbots, robots, and other virtual caregiver technologies being trialed or used by health systems, senior homes or others. But beyond the wow factor, it’s always good to maintain a critical eye to ask questions about costs, ease of use, accuracy, and if the intended audiences like them or find them helpful.
Image by Enrique Bosquet via flickr.
Some states are considering social insurance programs to help offset the cost of long-term services and supports (LTSS) care for consumers.
In May, Washington state became the first state to enact legislation that helps finance LTSS for its residents. However, these programs must also strengthen the direct care workforce, according to a new report from PHI, a national research and consulting organization, and Caring Across Generations, a national caregiving advocacy organization. Continue reading
Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJBrent P. Forester
While scientists are getting closer to understanding the various causes and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, there’s still no cure.
However, that doesn’t mean life is hopeless for millions of people who have the disease, or their families. There’s a lot we can do improve their quality of life, according to panelists at a Health Journalism 2019 session on Alzheimer’s. Continue reading
Anyone who has helped an ailing loved one knows that the job of a caregiver is not easy. When cognitive decline is part of the mix, the job becomes even more challenging.
Researchers and occupational therapy students at the University of Buffalo (UB) are developing a model to help ease some of the burdens on those caring for frail elders with dementia. They are partnering with regional PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) programs to meet the unique needs of older caregiving spouses. Continue reading