Cognitive Computing in Senior Living Communities

IBM recently published an article entitled “Improving Eldercare with Cognitive Computing and the Internet of Things,” which outlined their exciting partnership with the Avamere Family of Companies to improve hospital readmission rates and senior care.Cognitive Computing in Senior Living Communities

Although it was a very interesting and thought-provoking concept, their content raises many questions about the role of future of technologies in senior living communities.

A Technical Partnership: Avamere and IBM Cognitive Computer

The Avamere Family of Companies (known simply as ‘Avamere’) was founded in 1995 as a single nursing residence in Hillsboro, Oregon. The mission of Avamere is “to enhance the life of every person we serve,” and today they are a thriving organization, operating nearly 50 living care residences in addition to providing a basket of healthcare services.

Avamere has positioned itself as a proactive, savvy organization today that utilizes technology to better support their residents, which is why they’ve partnered with IBM for a new cognitive computing initiative.

Cognitive Computing

Although there is no universally agreed-upon definition, Forbes believes the goal of cognitive computing is to “simulate human thought processes in a computerized model. Using self-learning algorithms that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing, the computer can mimic the way the human brain works.”

Cognitive computing is both adaptive and interactive – Forbes claims “the more data the system is exposed to, the more it learns, and the more accurate it becomes over time.” Bottom line, cognitive computing analyzes data and predicts the best outcomes.

There are no current models of care that proactively address individual patient risks and accurately prevent incidents and injuries before they occur, which is why a partnership between Avamere and IBM is so intriguing.

By combining Avamere’s distinguished reputation in providing patient-centered care and IBM’s expertise in cognitive computing, this project gives new insights to Avamere’s care providers that could “identify potential risks and… minimize hospital readmission.”

The Future of Senior Care

This partnership opens exciting new doors for the future of health and senior care. IBM’s cognitive computing will monitor a variety of considerations, including:

  • Air quality
  • Factors that could lead to a fall risk
  • Gait analysis
  • Incontinence
  • Movement
  • Personal hygiene
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Trips to the bathroom

The results of this data will be used by health care professionals to develop individualized care plans for residents that are proactive and specifically address their unique risks.

John W. Morgan, the CEO of Avamere, says that:

“The more information we can capture and analyze, the better prepared we can be to help improve care for our residents and patients. For instance, by understanding someone’s sleep patterns, we could see that on one specific day they didn’t sleep their normal amount, and therefore might be at a greater risk of falling. This knowledge can help us proactively intervene before there is an accident.”

The benefits of cognitive computing are clear, but begs the question – will senior living residents want to share such personal data with their communities for more personalized, preventative care?

According to marketing expert Evan Magliocca of Smart Brief, “until recently, Generation X and baby boomers were fearful of personaliz[ation], equating the idea to ‘big brother’ watching over their shoulders to infiltrate their private behaviors and shopping habits.”

Traditionally, Millennials have been more willing to exchange data for personalized products and services, but Magliocca believes that this willingness is spreading to Baby Boomers. “The collection of data is no longer singularly frowned upon…It’s okay to collect personal data safely, but retailers have the onus of making that data useful to each customer.”

Ultimately, time will tell whether data-reliant cognitive computer models are appealing to seniors who stand to benefit from the improved preventative health outcomes in their senior living communities.

What do you think? Would you be willing to share information about your habits in exchange for more personalized approaches to your care? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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