According to Forbes, the percentage of seniors age 60 and older will double by 2050. Not to mention the percentage of seniors 80 and older will have quadrupled by then. Chronic illnesses and diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s) will need to be diagnosed faster and new therapies developed. Health data will need to be accessed just as quickly with a more urgent need for data protection. There will also be a greater need for healthcare personnel (i.e. doctors) as the U.S. will face a shortage by 2030.
So, what is the solution for handling the increase in seniors and shortage of healthcare staff? Artificial intelligence (AI). AI will free up time for healthcare staff regarding administrative tasks, monitoring of vitals and communicating about treatments. Seniors will need to become comfortable with using healthcare devices. For example, AiCare is used to track biometrics. These devices (sensors) can detect a change in a senior’s blood pressure and alert his or her physician. They can also detect if a senior has fallen or has wandered away from home.
There are virtual assistants to help with care management, including providing updates to healthcare providers. Catalina Health’s Mabu provides activity suggestions to seniors to keep them active. It has conversations with seniors to learn their behavior patterns. This data gives seniors’ physicians (and their families) a true picture of how they are taking care of themselves (e.g. taking their medications and the dosage). There are also robots that can perform tasks, such as transferring a senior from a bed to a wheelchair. ROBEAR is a robot that can perform this task, which will prevent back injuries for nurses, certified nursing assistants and aides.
The use of AI in healthcare has begun and will provide the necessary relief healthcare staff will need in the future. Seniors have already gotten accustomed to using cell phones and apps to make their lives easier, so having a virtual assistant “tell” them to take their medication at particular time or do their daily exercises will not be an issue. AI is also being used to study aging as well as to find ways to combat it.
With AI, seniors will not have to rely on family members or aides for some care management tasks. They will be able to live more independent lives by wearing devices that alert their healthcare providers of any health issue as well as provide information tailored to their particular treatment. However, as great as AI is, it will not take the place of human interaction and the compassion bestowed by nurses and/or caregivers.