Taking Healthcare from Reactive to Proactive

This year, attendees of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas dubbed 2018 the “year of AI.” The Digital Health Forum was no exception. GreatCall Chief Commercial Officer Bryan Adams joined Stefani Benefield, former VP of Innovation at Humana, and Pat Keran of Optum in a panel moderated by Eric Taub, NY Times to discuss the role of predictive analytics in modern caregiving.

Panelists discussed topics ranging from the potential of technologies like Amazon Alexa to evaluate changes in speech patterns and preferences to the importance of using data from different sources to paint a clear picture of a member’s health. But, no matter how advanced the technology, the key to making it work is connecting the humans – both the end user and caregiver – with the technology.

The key to integrating technology successfully with a population is developing a deep understanding of that population. Benefield pointed out that one challenge with the senior population is often how different the perspectives of the cared-for group are than those of the decision makers planning their care. Further complicating the issue is the different dynamics within subgroups within that population. That is, solutions designed to effectively care for a 65-year-old may be vastly different than a system designed for an older, frail senior at risk of losing their independence.

Adams discussed how GreatCall trains staff to understand this population. Each of the more than 1,000 employees in GreatCall’s two caring centers go through a senior sensitivity training course, which helps them better relate to the challenges of aging, and thus, better communicate with seniors. Meanwhile, GreatCall recognizes that different products are needed to serve groups separated by age, condition, and mobility. Lively Mobile works both and in and out of the home, and may provide a more robust picture of an active senior. Lively Home passively monitors activities in the home, and uses predictive analytics to evaluate changes in daily activities that indicate a change in health status. In both cases, the products are designed to allow a managed care organization’s care management team provide better care to older adults who choose to age in place.

For many remote monitoring solutions, user adoption is critical to data collection. Benefield discussed the importance of mindful communication when introducing monitoring products. She noted that when care managers told seniors about monitoring systems, they were wary. However, when the care managers demonstrated the value of the product, the concern that someone is watching them was mitigated. That helped the older adult open themselves to the idea of a monitoring system, and their anxieties shifted to whether they would be able to use the product without damaging it. Lively Home solves this problem by providing a solution that passively monitors activities, so the end user doesn’t have to “use” a device at all.

The purpose of all this, of course, as Keran noted, is to help healthcare organizations transition from providing reactive care, to proactive care. With AI evaluating trends on both an individual and population level, predictive analytics’ true purpose is to allow caregivers to act early, often replacing a high-cost episode of care with a low-cost intervention, such as a PCP visit. At GreatCall, a dedicated care team monitors an analytics dashboard that highlights changes in individual trends, and, after contacting the senior to assess the situation, alerts a health plan care manager to address the issue.

With more and more seniors choosing to age in place, the network of caregivers, including family members, care managers, and health care providers, is ever growing and not always within arm’s reach. In summary, the panel members agreed that leveraging the power of predictive analytics to connect the end user’s daily activities with a care manager ready to intervene can improve outcomes.

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