Empowering Compassionate Care: Caregility’s Journey with AI in Telehealth
Some years ago, while in a discussion about technology innovation, the CIO of a world-famous healthcare institution spoke about his focus on compassionate care. That conversation struck a chord with me. At its very core, healthcare delivery is a human undertaking that is skillfully tailored to meet the needs of the individual patient. We should never lose sight of that fact. Digital health solutions must be a means to that end: delivering high-quality, compassionate, efficient, and safe patient care across the continuum of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and follow-up. Technology must blend into the background and silently help human caregivers do their best work.
With this mission in mind, our team at Caregility is now embedding AI technologies into our proven virtual care platform to bring individualized patient care to a new level. The compassionate care belief system is a driving force as we set about that work.
We recognize the immense potential for AI in healthcare, but the consequences of getting it wrong, even in a tightly defined domain such as virtual care, could be harmful to care teams and patients. We’ve seen AI applied in broad strokes – delivering a standard set of capabilities to every patient without consideration of their individual needs. We believe that approach is a mistake, and we are committed to applying AI in a responsible way that respects the needs of individual patients and adapts accordingly.
Steering Principles for AI in Telehealth
To ensure our introduction of AI creates value for care teams and contributes to individualized patient care, we’ve embraced a few key steering principles. We believe these principles will help us stay true to our compassionate care beliefs, focus our development work, and allow us to adapt quickly as the underlying technology matures and we receive real-world feedback from our customers. Those steering principles include:
Partnering our clinical and development teams closely on product direction. Our clinical solutions team, comprised of licensed healthcare practitioners with decades of experience in bedside nursing and virtual care program rollouts across leading healthcare institutions, plays a significant role in ensuring that the new AI enhancements we bring to market will positively impact the day-to-day experience of bedside clinicians and their patients.
Responding to every patient as an individual. The more an AI-driven service is customized to the individual patient, the more meaningful the clinical insights that AI helps reveal are. Striving to achieve this level of personalized care delivery helps ensure actionability without introducing nuisance alarms.
A focus on Return-on-Investment. We are committed to being clear-eyed about the financial and clinical outcomes new AI enhancements must deliver to justify the resource investment in time, money, and opportunity.
Caregility’s AI Roadmap
At Caregility, we are providing an optional set of AI-driven services that enhance specific virtual clinical programs, such as Virtual Nursing and Continuous Observation. As we build out these and other AI solutions, in order to adhere to our guiding principles, Caregility is employing an agile software development approach to release AI enhancements for virtual care in phases.
The initial phase is a minimum viable product (MVP) that embeds selected AI capability into our platform, delivering a targeted subset of our overall AI vision to Caregility customers and their patients. We will deploy the MVP to early field trial customers willing and able to partner closely with our clinical solutions team. Together they will provide our development team with a feedback loop that answers essential questions: Are we heading in the right direction? Is our vision for AI enhancement something that solves problems that exist in this institution, or should we adjust? Do our customers trust that this technology shows promise?
We’ll then make modifications and improvements to deliver subsequent phases, using customer feedback to drive value at every stage: Does it increase efficiency? Does it improve care quality? Does it positively impact patient and staff safety?
Our goal is to create additional value for our customers through the Caregility point-of-care telehealth systems that they have already deployed and are planning to deploy. With powerful edge computing and high-resolution cameras and microphone arrays that simultaneously support live two-way audio/video sessions and multimedia streaming, the Caregility Cloud™ platform was built with medical-grade AI integration in mind.
Intelligent Telehealth Endpoints
Each Caregility point-of-care system we deploy today is equipped with sophisticated, purpose-built microphone arrays and HD cameras that can introduce both remote clinician support and AI-enhanced monitoring to care teams. Here are a few examples that illustrate what purpose-built means:
Patient rooms are often noisy environments. Caregility audio processing is purpose-built to perform well in this environment so that remote clinicians can pick up on alarms and hear patients and bedside teams clearly. That same capability can be dual-purposed to feed AI language processing components that enable ambient listening and documentation.
To support patient observation at night, Caregility cameras are purpose-built with infrared night vision. That capability also ensures that computer vision-based AI performs well under low-light patient room conditions.
Our point-of-care devices can send audio and video streams to multiple locations simultaneously to support simultaneous workflows. That means a remote doctor can consult with a patient at the same time the video stream is feeding our AI engine to monitor for patient safety issues such as the bed rail positioning.
The question we seek to answer through AI enhancement is: What tasks can AI help us automate to augment the work of care teams?
AI-Enhanced Audio, Video, and Radar for Virtual Care
As we set out to introduce clinical AI to our virtual care platform, we’re focused on three key areas.
Computer vision enhancements will analyze patient room video streams to look for safety risks, best practice adherence, and workflow optimization opportunities. If the engine detects something that requires human intervention, our intent is to flag it for the right member of the care team. We will leverage our existing iConsult and iObserver applications as the main way to surface useful AI-driven insights to care team members, with incremental updates expected. We want insights to be actionable, not disruptive. Customer feedback from early field trials will inform our roadmap.
In the outpatient context of telehealth, we plan to extend video stream processing to virtual visits to gather patient vital signs (i.e., respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature) from facial video analysis. We’ll present this live data to the remote clinician so they can see it as part of their remote consultation.
Acoustic-based AI will listen to audio streams for patterns that can alert staff to patient stress or behavioral issues. In the inpatient context, we are researching embedded AI to identify medically relevant parts of conversations between clinical staff and patients to relieve some of the clinical note-taking burden for care teams. Ambient listening will inform structured clinical data capture for nurses to review before being documented in the EHR.
We are also working to integrate an optional radar sensor with our point-of-care devices to support contactless vitals streaming in inpatient care. Trending heart and respiratory rates over time could signal deterioration or changes in the patient’s condition. Our goal is to support personalized compassionate care and alert the appropriate clinician if vital signs diverge away from that patient’s baseline. Sepsis is a major patient safety factor in our hospitals, and we believe widespread adoption of this type of technology will help attack that problem and others.
The AI journey ramps up for Caregility in 2024, when we release our first commercial offerings addressing two of our key focus areas: Augmented Observation and Vitals Trending. We will partner closely with our early field test customers to measure the impact those solutions have on key performance indicators. Customer feedback will fuel our next wave of intelligent telehealth enhancements aimed at advancing compassionate, personalized care.
AI’s Potential in Inpatient Clinical Care
Traditionally, healthcare has been regarded as a laggard in embracing IT innovations, primarily due to the inherent complexity of care delivery and the stringent regulatory environment. However, this perception is undergoing a significant transformation. The widespread adoption of acute telehealth has played a pivotal role in this shift, providing care teams with valuable hands-on experience that has helped build trust in health technology. As a result, healthcare professionals have become more comfortable with and open to leveraging digital health tools in their daily practices.
This newfound receptivity to digital enablement has set the stage for a remarkable leap forward in the industry. This is evidenced by the recent surge of interest in artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare. The proliferation of generative AI and the urgent need to find new solutions to the ongoing staffing crisis are further fueling interest in exploring AI’s place in clinical care.
Although headway has been made regarding operational use cases for machine learning-based AI in backend process improvements, healthcare teams are eager to identify and implement AI solutions that can enhance clinical workflows, produce more precise diagnoses, and improve patient outcomes. For the many hospitals equipped with synchronous, audio/video-based telehealth services at the bedside, infrastructure exists to introduce AI services at the point of care as well.
In the realm of virtual care, the evolution of intelligent telehealth endpoints has been remarkable. As telehealth has evolved from audio-only interactions to feature-rich video encounters, camera and microphone quality have improved to keep pace. One noteworthy development is the integration of edge computing capabilities into telehealth endpoints, enabling the support of AI applications. New multiplexing technology supports multiple cameras, allowing care teams to simultaneously support virtual patient engagement and video-based AI solutions.
In addition to high-fidelity camera and microphone arrays, new sensors such as radar technology are making their way into telehealth platforms. These sensors are capable of continuously capturing valuable clinical data while minimizing disruption to the care process. These advancements in telehealth are allowing care teams to infuse AI services such as Augmented Observation and Vitals Trending into bedside care processes, arming clinical teams with patient safety reinforcement tools that reduce pressure on staff and lead to better outcomes.
Promise and Precautions in Clinical AI
While the adoption of AI in healthcare holds immense promise, it also comes with its set of challenges and precautions.
In a recent interview with Healthcare IT Today editor John Lynn at the 2023 HLTH conference, Caregility Chief Product and Engineering Officer Kedar Ganta lauded AI’s ability to bring in ambient intelligence from audio, video, and sensor feeds, “whether it’s collecting vitals or documenting notes for the clinician.” This technology operates in the background, collecting vital patient information and supporting care processes without causing disruption.
Ganta does note, however, that amidst the excitement surrounding AI, the topics of trust and accountability often receive insufficient attention. Establishing patient and provider trust in AI systems is crucial. “This is where regulation comes into the picture,” says Ganta. “It’s a balance between over-regulating something versus promoting innovation.” Reliable data and transparency in AI solutions are essential for building trust, and the inner workings of AI algorithms should be shared with providers to enhance visibility into these factors.
Additionally, “providers should have the ability to override the AI decision” Ganta advises. Creating a regulatory framework and an independent body to oversee AI in healthcare is vital to address these concerns. As AI continues to reshape the healthcare landscape, these discussions about trust, regulation, and accountability are essential for harnessing the full potential of AI while safeguarding patient wellbeing.
As the healthcare industry continues to embrace these advancements, the future holds exciting possibilities for improved patient outcomes and experiences.
Nurse Spotlight: Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN-K
Many would agree that the nursing profession isn’t for the faint of heart. RNs see it all. Although Sarah Lake, MS, RN, CCRN-K, didn’t initially set out to be a nurse, her early years working in the criminal justice system offered plenty of parallels.
Sarah first pursued undergraduate studies in political science and criminal justice, earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Dakota (USD). The Sioux Falls native then held positions as a correctional officer and a court services officer, doing what she describes as “the equivalent of felony probation and supervision for community members who don’t go to prison.”
Like the clinical work she’d eventually embark on, Sarah’s Corrections roles operated under a paradigm that put emphasis on prevention through early intervention. The challenge was that she oversaw a population that was profoundly underserved with no access to social services. Sarah recognized that the lack of support services was an impediment to her ability to adequately help those in her community. This point of frustration led her back to school to find a different way she could help.
Sarah earned her nursing degree at USD intending to go into community, public, or mental health. After a preceptorship at the Department of Health setting up points of distribution during H1N1, she landed a critical access nursing role in Chamberlain, SD, at Sanford Chamberlain, ultimately returning to Pierre, her home community, with a role in Avera St. Mary Hospital’s ICU. That role introduced Sarah to a relatively new theory of care. Avera St. Mary’s eICU program allowed patients to receive services from remote clinicians while remaining close to home and family.
“The hospital had an eICU system that allowed clinicians to push a button to get instant access to intensivists and critical care nurses to help take care of critical patients whom we would have otherwise had to transport to tertiary care,” Sarah explains. “When I pushed the button for the first time [to get help] on a drip I was unsure of, I was sold.” Sarah immediately recognized the potential that virtual care posed to broader use cases.
“The thing I am the most passionate about is improving the delivery of patient care.”
– Sarah Lake
“During my career, I did temp work outside of hospitals and worked as a flight nurse, but I always came back to the eICU at Avel eCare (then Avera eCare) because I liked virtual care’s ability to give folks world-class care in their home community. When I came back to work full time in the Sioux Falls area at Avel eCare, one of the service lines was a multi-specialty clinic offering specialties to IHS. Sixty percent of the services we were supporting were mental health or psych related – precisely the kind of services I thought we needed when I was in Corrections.”
When COVID-19 hit, Sarah and her team again turned to telehealth to remotely support patients isolated at home. It wasn’t long before Sarah was recruited by Caregility to put her virtual care experience to work supporting hospitals across the nation looking to follow suit. Today, Sarah helps health systems hone their telehealth strategy, design virtual clinical workflows, and stand up EMR-integrated programs that improve care delivery for patients and providers.
Sarah sees hybrid care fueling what’s possible in healthcare. That includes the ability to support remote family involvement or group visits, patient and staff education, and patient monitoring as an added safety layer and another way to build relationships with patients.
“Post-COVID, patients are sicker and there aren’t as many clinicians available to take care of them,” Sarah notes. “Adopting a virtual nurse is one way teams can meet in the middle. Medicine is also getting much smarter. Wearables and home-based apps have tremendous potential to further personalize care and proactively improve outcomes. Increased use of AI will not only enhance care delivery but also optimize operations. It will account for things people don’t think about when they’re putting patients into beds – like higher fall risk if the patient is placed at the end of the hall – to support the best utilization of space. What locations are best for the recovery of specific conditions? What staff do we have to take care of them? We’ll see the use of AI in those operations.”
For those looking to implement a virtual care program, Sarah offers five points of advice:
Work with a multidisciplinary team including clinical, administrative, and IT stakeholders to define your goals and objectives based on your unique pain points.
Conduct a feasibility study to determine what it will take to launch your program. Consider time and resource requirements, seeking outside expertise as needed.
Define your clinical protocol. Demonstrate ways the solution will benefit patients, lighten staff workload, and foster new professional development skills among staff who will use the tools.
Select technology that supports your identified workflows. Will telehealth endpoints be cart-based or wall-mounted? What integrations are desired? Be mindful of regulatory compliance and network factors.
Iterate and re-iterate constantly.
“Virtual care and telehealth bring us to a whole new level of being able to deliver care to absolutely everybody in a quick, cost-effective manner, even in geographically isolated communities with socioeconomic struggles,” says Sarah. “Today we can have a diabetes patient see a world-class endocrinologist at home on an iPhone. Virtual care lessons I’ve learned along the way have only broadened what I see as the future potential.”
Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your hybrid care strategy? Contact us today!
AI-Enhanced Telehealth: Hope or Hype?
ChatGPT and a plethora of other AI-powered applications are rapidly gaining popularity in today’s tech-driven world. In healthcare, AI and machine learning algorithms are being adopted to drive efficiency in patient-facing and back-office settings alike.
One of the clinical frontiers gaining attention is the augmentation of virtual care programs with AI tools such as computer vision, ambient clinical intelligence, and contactless monitoring. By bringing these AI enhancements into virtual workflows in the inpatient setting, healthcare organizations hope to positively impact patient safety, clinical outcomes, care team experience, and operational performance.
During a recent fireside chat, Caregility President and COO Mike Brandofino sat down with Healthcare Innovation editor Mark Hagland to explore the practicality, best practices, and perils associated with selecting and adopting AI technology to advance telehealth.
AI’s Potential in Acute Virtual Encounters
AI is showing promise in clinical use cases in acute care settings where staffing shortages and burnout are prominent. As Brandofino sees it, one of AI’s biggest benefits is in “augmenting the information that a clinician or caregiver has access to with more clinical insight than they’d be able to gather on their own.” When evaluating tools, he encourages stakeholders to consider the impact: “Is it taking tasks away that can potentially save staff time? Is it a tool that adds to productivity?”
One of the AI functions Brandofino sees potential in is radar-based contactless monitoring. These tools continuously capture patient vitals such as heart rate and breathing rate, as well as track motion in the room. This allows caregivers to see trends over time.
“The AI part of that is the algorithms can detect changes in that pattern that mean something,” Brandofino explains. He offers a practical use case example. “That radar device can tell you, based on telemetry, that a patient is starting to wake up. Now think of a post-op situation where the nurses have to be there when the patient wakes up disoriented. Can you just have a contactless device notify them when the patient is starting to wake up so they can get in there then instead of sitting there for 30 minutes waiting?”
Automated, contactless vitals monitoring also accelerates the frequency and timeliness of clinical documentation.
“If you think about what happens with nurses as they do their rounds and take vital signs, many times they don’t get that information into the EHR until the end of their shift or hours later,” Brandofino notes. AI tools can gather vital signs many times throughout the day and put it through an algorithm to evaluate if the patient is getting better or worse. This allows care teams to intervene earlier and potentially improve outcomes.
Ambient clinical intelligence uses AI tools like natural language processing to draft clinical notes and reports, posing similar efficiency benefits. In care environments where resources are thin and burnout is high, those incremental time savings can add up.
Caveats to Consider When Adopting Health AI
As you evaluate AI solutions to bring into patient care delivery, it’s important not to become enamored with the technology before understanding where it fits into the patient care workflow. Brandofino recommends including all stakeholders—clinical, IT, and operations—in evaluations. “How are you going to support your device fleet? Consider the clinical workflow as well as the experience on the patient side.”
“Think about the operational logistics of supporting what you’re doing,” Brandofino advises. “What we suggest to our customers is to understand the impact that you’re going to have on the staff on the floor and think about what that is going to be like at scale.” Nurses are some of the most interrupted people in healthcare. The last thing you want to do is introduce new tools that add to their stress level, whether that be an overabundance of false alarms or device overload.
Given the newness of many AI tools entering the market, it’s also important to consider who you’re partnering with. Has the tool been implemented in one or two patient rooms or thousands of rooms? Are there examples of in-market success that can offer a roadmap?
Combining AI and Telehealth to Empower Caregivers
By integrating AI with virtual care, healthcare organizations can modernize care delivery with innovative new tools and keep the human element of care intact. AI can drive intelligent clinical alerting, while virtual engagement channels serve as a bridge for immediate staff intervention. When combined, these resources amplify what virtual teams are capable of supporting remotely, doubling down on reducing the burdens on bedside staff.
“We believe that combining that remote nurse with smart technology to help gather telemetry in the room will be really impactful in improving care for patients in the long term,” says Brandofino. “Don’t feel like you have to put in a siloed solution just to get access to AI technology. Look for players that are capable of integrating with what you already have. If you already have high-end cameras and mics in the room with edge processing, what else can you gather in the patient room to give to caregivers?”
Ultimately, healthcare organizations that focus on applying technologies that solve real problems that exist today around the shortage of nurses, productivity, and quality of life for staff will have the most impact.
Interested in learning more about AI-enhanced hybrid care solutions? Contact us today!
Nurse Spotlight: Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN-K
Donna Gudmestad, MHL, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, will tell you she “took the long road into nursing.” As a college student considering her career options, Donna opted to pursue nursing based on exposure to the profession she had gained interacting with home nurses who helped care for her grandfather.
Drawing from that experience, her work as a caregiver began as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in a nursing home. Donna would go on to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for six years, taking a break to start a family before ultimately going on to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
Roughly twenty years would pass between Donna earning her BSN in Nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University and going on to earn her Master of Health Leadership from Western Governors University. Along the way, she gained experience in virtually every facet of the patient care journey, holding nursing roles in academic, long-term care, sub-acute care, rehab, and hospital-based settings.
Perhaps most notably, Donna was among a small but growing constituency of clinicians actively working to modernize care by introducing virtual workflows at the bedside. Using the expertise she cultivated working as an ICU nurse at St. Louis University Medical Center and as a nurse manager at Mercy Virtual, Donna was offered a role as the Director of Operations leading six virtual service lines across a four-state region.
Donna currently puts her 30+ years of nursing and 14+ years of telehealth implementation experience to use as a Clinical Program Manager and Clinical Product Owner of mobile technology at Caregility, where she works with some of the nation’s leading health systems to bring clinically sound virtual care programs to life. That includes emerging virtual nursing models.
Although virtual nursing is rightfully generating buzz, Donna observes that the concept is not new. “TeleICU is one flavor of virtual nursing,” she notes. “We have been doing medication second signature and other workflows virtually for 15 years within the critical care space.” She sees the expansion of those practices into lower acuity hospital units as a natural next step in improving patient care delivery.
“Whereas before it was a battle, COVID really opened people’s eyes to what technology can do to help nurses at the bedside.”
– Donna Gudmestad
Drawing from her experience as a clinician and virtual care forerunner, Donna is a wealth of knowledge for care teams standing up virtual programs. Her number one recommendation is to do your due diligence upfront. “Don’t stand something up and think you’re going to come back and clean it up,” Donna notes. “Do it right the first time. Decide which workflows you want to start with. What are your goals? What’s your measure of success? Align your metrics up front so you can measure your performance.”
Donna encourages leadership teams to involve bedside staff in program development early on to fully understand their challenges and build a program that adequately addresses them. “Sometimes we do things we think are helpful because we’re not in the hot seat every day,” says Donna. “The devil is in the details and bedside staff hold valuable knowledge that’s needed to really streamline workflows.”
When asked where she sees healthcare in 10 years, Donna is resolute in her perspective that virtual nursing and telemedicine will be normalized as a standard, additional mode of care delivery. “A nurse or provider will be able to come into a patient’s room virtually to accomplish much of what is done in person today,” she explains. “Peripherals and AI-supported transcription will support them, so they won’t have to type anything into their computer.”
Though critical care is destined to remain in-house, Donna sees an increased need for nurses beyond the four walls of the hospital. “A lot of care will be pushed out into the home whenever it’s appropriate,” she elaborates. “Many things can be done within the home, which more often than not increases patient comfort and reduces care costs.”
She views virtual nursing programs as practice for that future state and posits that “nursing will look very different in a decade.” That will likely entail a virtual-first engagement strategy where hands-on teams are deployed as needed – the inverse of what we typically see today. Donna is also optimistic about the broader use of AI in care delivery to make that future state possible, but notes that “with power comes responsibility.”
“Nurses have a thousand things on their plate,” she points out. “At the end of the day, the goal is to make it easier for clinicians to deliver high-quality care that is augmented by technology.”
Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your virtual care strategy? Contact us today!
Nurse Spotlight: Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN-K
Ben Cassidy, MBA, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, always knew he wanted to work in the field of healthcare. What he may have underestimated was just how much his technical aptitude would propel his clinical career.
As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Ben initially had his sights set on becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). But real-world experience after earning his nursing degree would lead him in a different direction.
What Ben really sought was an unconventional path, or what he calls “the 1% job – that small, specialized field within nursing” where he could make the most difference. Entering the healthcare workforce as a newly minted RN on the heels of the HITECH Act being passed, Ben embraced opportunities to meld his clinical and technical know-how. He eventually landed at North Carolina-based Cone Health, the first hospital in the state of North Carolina to launch a teleICU program.
“I found myself in a nurse supervisor role in my 20s where I was the youngest clinician on staff by about 30 years,” Ben shares. “Medical records had recently gone electronic. I got along very well with the clinicians who were older than me because they appreciated having someone young around who was familiar with electronic medical records.”
During his tenure with Cone Health, Ben spearheaded the health system’s migration to a new teleICU solution, which brought him into the medical device side of virtual care.
The teleICU project involved replacing over 160 telehealth endpoints on an accelerated schedule carefully orchestrated to avoid interfering with patient care and creating communication pathways between Cone Health’s Epic EHR and the in-room video solution. Ben and the Cone Health team customized Epic Monitor around their current and new clinical workflows while also collaborating with Caregility to build an integration to launch the camera from within the patient’s EHR record using context-aware linking. As a result, Cone Health was able to leverage the EHR to define predictive analytics for risk, stratifying patients for early identification and intervention.
Today, Ben brings 12 years of experience in critical care and 7 years of experience in the teleICU space to his role as a Clinical Program Manager at Caregility, where he helps clinical teams integrate virtual care into hospital workflows. As an AACN-certified Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) with specialized knowledge in Virtual Nursing and medical device integration, he adds tremendous value to the Caregility team and the health system customers he consults.
“I’m passionate about using my technical skills and knowledge of the industry to help make healthcare more seamless and easier to navigate, not only for patients but for clinicians as well,” Ben shared. “As a clinician, you want a seamless flow of devices working for you so you can focus on the patient.”
“Too often, we have too many hands on medical devices and not enough hands on patients. My goal is to help change that.”
– Ben Cassidy
When asked what advice he’d give someone looking to implement a virtual care program, Ben recommended making sure you weigh all your options. “Look for a virtual care platform that supports use cases from the onset of a medical emergency through to when the patient leaves the facility – from ambulatory care to the inpatient setting and to the patient’s home. Solutions should take bedside activities off clinicians’ plates, not add to them. EMR integration is essential.”
Looking ahead, Ben sees medical device integrations playing an increasingly important role in healthcare delivery, offering clinicians new tools to identify changes in patient conditions and intervene earlier. “What we don’t need is another device that clinicians have to touch or type on, or another false alarm sounding throughout a nursing unit,” Ben shared. “Picking up patient data points without providers having to manually document them while also creating meaningful, actionable alerts is going to make it much easier for caregivers. Hopefully, in the future, if a camera sees it, you speak it, or a device senses it, the technology will capture it. We’re already seeing this in some of the new health AI solutions entering our ecosystem.”
“I also see our industry’s response to technology moving from fear to need, which is encouraging,” Ben elaborated. “There is less fear that healthcare technology will replace jobs and more open acceptance of health IT as another resource to help you do your job more effectively.”
“We’re never going to replace the bedside nurse, but I believe virtual care tools and models can help us better staff our units, reduce burnout for our nurses, and offer an alternative work arrangement to help us hold onto our more seasoned, experienced RNs. Giving them the option to be a remote knowledge resource strengthens the organization as a whole. I can easily envision a day when virtual clinical resources are integrated into every organization in healthcare.”
Interested in connecting with a Caregility Clinical Program Manager to discuss your virtual care strategy? Contact us today!
Is Health AI Finally Having its Heyday?
Artificial intelligence has been bandied about in the healthcare industry for years but, if the 2023 health IT tradeshow circuit is any indication, health AI may finally be entering its heyday.
The HIMSS23 conference recently wrapped up, with roughly 35,000 healthcare professionals gathering in Chicago to showcase and explore solutions aimed at improving care delivery, patient outcomes, and operational efficiency. And much like the recent ViVE conference, there was no shortage of health AI news and innovation on display:
The focus on AI is unsurprising given the explosive popularity of platforms like ChatGPT. Mainstream access to AI tools is fueling innovation across industries as stakeholders look to leverage the technology in their respective fields. For healthcare, AI is rapidly moving from hype to practical application in both clinical and operational use cases.
“AI is currently in the spotlight, with a mix of anticipation and apprehension about its potential to alleviate staffing shortages and expand care in a challenged healthcare system,” observed Caregility Chief Product and Engineering Officer Kedar Ganta, who was among those in attendance at HIMSS 2023. “While some are still struggling to grasp AI’s role beyond the buzz, others are already exploring its integration with various technologies.”
Many of the health AI solutions in and entering the market aim to help providers improve patient outcomes by supporting the early detection of patient deterioration and adverse events using things like computer vision and contactless monitoring. Health AI tools can also improve the clinician experience by adding a digital line of support to simplify tasks, for example, using ambient intelligence tools to support clinical documentation.
As Caregility President and COO Mike Brandofino put it, “AI advancements will enhance clinical insight and enable care for more patients, in spite of challenges related to limited staff resources.Nothing can replace a knowledgeable, experienced caregiver, but how much more effective can they be if we augment the information available to them? Continuous virtual observation of patients, data capture through wearables, and access to predictive algorithms that can help providers anticipate conditions affecting patient outcomes will combine to improve care.”
The potential benefits are undeniable, but health AI implementation won’t come without its challenges. An overwhelming array of innovative health AI solutions are entering the market. As healthcare organizations pilot emerging technologies, adopting health AI solutions without introducing new tech silos and solution sprawl that may congest networks will be pivotal.
In a recent interview with HIMSS TV, Brandofino touched on ways virtual care platform integration can help hospitals and health systems more easily integrate health AI solutions into clinical workflows.
“There are going to be a lot of things that come on the market – shiny new objects – and not all of it is going to work,” said Brandofino. “Our approach through our ecosystem is to show that we can integrate one system in a room with [a variety of] different AI platforms.”
In adopting a platform approach, health systems are equipped to experiment with health AI solutions in a way that leverages existing virtual care infrastructure, rather than introducing an additional framework to manage new resources that might become obsolete.
“Combining virtual care solutions and AI technology yields tremendous potential to enhance and improve a variety of clinical workflows in acute care settings,” said Pete McLain, Chief Strategy Officer at Caregility. “Artificial intelligence has the potential to enhance and augment – not replace – care teams, helping them save time, capture more meaningful patient data, and support clinical decisions and interventions that lead to better care and improved patient outcomes.”
To learn more about Caregility’s AI-enhanced hybrid care solutions, contact us today.