Artificial Intelligence in Hospice Care

AI Hospice Care

Published in by Scott Bay

Artificial Intelligence in Hospice Care
Artificial Intelligence in End of Life Care

The means to predict mortality using artificial intelligence could be a transformative factor in the future of palliative health care. While this topic may seem a bit morbid, AI has the potential to help medical care providers and doctors significantly improve the delivery of patient care in hospice situations.

Getting the right kind of treatment at the end-of-life stage is more important than many assume. Not enough treatment — or even inaccurate treatment — can provide a painful experience for patients, and overcare may result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary medical bills, even if the patient is covered by insurance. While it’s crucial to select the proper medical coverage that includes hospice care regardless of the situation — especially for people over 65 or older, because there are specific plans for specific purposes to help with these medical costs — AI advances may help patients and physicians determine illness sooner to prepare for end-of-life costs and treatments before it’s too late.

A recent study in the journal NPJ Digital Medicine shows that technology will soon allow physicians to improve the timing and delivery of patient care. Researchers used AI to scan electronic health records (EHR) and notes doctors left in patient records to detect potential clinical problems and health risks. The AI system predicted patient mortality rate and final diagnoses more accurately and quickly than physicians. So how does it work?

Using deep learning for patient insight

In the NPJ study, researchers fed almost 48 billion data points (including doctors’ patient notes, patient demographics, procedures, medications, lab results, and vital signs) into a deep learning model. This model analyzed the data and predicted, with 90 percent accuracy, medical issues like mortality rates, longer hospital stay lengths, unplanned readmissions, and patients’ final diagnoses. When compared to traditional predictive models, the deep learning model was more accurate and scalable.

For example, a woman in the final stages of breast cancer came to a city hospital with fluid already in her lungs. Two doctors reviewed her case, and she received a radiology scan. The hospital’s traditional predictive model reviewed her chart and estimated there was a 9.3 percent chance she would die in-hospital. A new type of algorithm (created by Google) reviewed the woman’s chart — about 175,639 data points — and estimated her death risk at an actual 19.9 percent. The patient passed away in a matter of days, proving the algorithm model to be more accurate.

Compared to the traditional method, the deep learning model was 10 percent more accurate. The system’s ability to sift through data that was previously unavailable helped it provide a more accurate mortality estimation. Rather than looking at a few risk factors, the model looks at the patient’s entire electronic health record (EHR), including notes buried deep in PDFs or scribbled on old charts. Using this process, in the future, may enable doctors to save lives and provide better patient care.

Saving lives and money

So what can we do with this information? With more accurate predictions of a patient’s mortality, hospitals and doctors can use better estimations to adjust treatment plans, prioritize patient care, and predict negative outcomes before they occur. In addition to this, health care workers wouldn’t have to spend as much time manipulating patient data into a standardized, legible format.

For example, a report by Futurism notes that Ultromics, an AI diagnostics system developed in England, can diagnose heart disease more accurately than doctors. The same report notes that a startup bot called Optellum is working on an AI system that can diagnose lung cancer by analyzing clumps of cells found in scans. This bot shows promise to diagnose 4,000 additional lung cancer cases per year and at an earlier rate than doctors are currently capable of diagnosing.

Not only can these AI diagnostics systems save lives, but they can also help hospitals save money. In an interview for Futurism‘s report, Timor Kadir, Optellum’s chief science and technology officer, stated that the AI system could cut health care industry costs by $13.5 billion. Sir John Bell, chair of the U.K.’s Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research, added, “There is about $2.97 billion spent on pathology services in the National Health Service. You may be able to reduce that by 50 percent.”

Predicting death for better care

Current research shows that less than half of the eight percent of patients who need palliative care actually receive it. There are times when doctors make inaccurate or overly optimistic prognoses about a patient. Dr. Kenneth Jung, a research scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine, told NBC, “Doctors may not make the referral [for palliative care] simply because they’re so focused on managing their patients’ health issues that palliative care doesn’t cross their minds.”

Failing to identify patients who need palliative care can have devastating consequences. If the patient’s health suddenly declines, they may spend their final days receiving aggressive medical treatments in hopes of extending their lives by a few weeks. However, studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of Americans would prefer to die at home, rather than in a hospital. Sadly, the report also notes that 60 percent of these people die in acute care hospitals.

It’s in these cases that AI can help identify patients who are critically ill and might benefit from end-of-life care. Early identification of these patients can help them get the treatment they need sooner. And it may allow patients to remain at home, instead of in the hospital, during their final days.

While some may wonder about the future of AI in health care, the purpose of AI systems is to play a supporting role in the health care industry. These systems will serve as a powerful tool that will help physicians and other health care professionals provide higher quality care and offer palliative treatments in a timely manner.

Scott Bay is a writer who covers AI and Internet of Things for PC Mag, Wired, and Men’s Health.

Published: by Interim HealthCare in Hospice

One of the main goals of hospice care is to provide assistance to patients in a comfortable environment. In recent years, the suite of tools to provide such services has started expanding to include telecommunication technology. One tool that has been seeing more widespread use of late is videoconferencing, which can provide a two-pronged benefit to hospice care. The integration of such technology into the hospice environment can help contribute to overall patient comfort, as well as provide more and better care opportunities for care providers.


A social benefit
In order to increase overall happiness and quality of life for patients, many hospice facilities have begun installing new wireless videoconferencing technology. Such systems provide patients with easier access to the Internet from their rooms, but more importantly, also make communicating with family members and friends easier and more enjoyable.

Facilities that have implemented such technology have indicated noticeable benefits to their residents. With video technology supplanting phone calls, it is easier for residents to communicate, can even let them bear witness to important life events such as weddings or child births thanks to mobile and tablet technology. Residents with nearby family have also benefited from the technology, as videoconferencing can provide a means to visit in the event of bad weather or road closures. In general, the technology has led to residents enjoying more and longer visits overall from their family members.

A useful tool for caregivers
Hospice residents aren’t the only ones benefiting from the use of videoconferencing technology. A report was published in the journal Telemedicine & E-health that explored the effect of videoconference calls on the quality of care that staff were able to provide for residents. Researchers looked at 114 caregiving meetings in which experts were teleconferenced in, as well at 86 such meetings that used conventional telephones.

Despite the fact that the teleconference tended to provide inferior sound quality to the telephone, caregivers found it more useful for a number of reasons. The addition of a visual element to the meetings provided caregivers the ability to better engage by making eye contact, as well as reading body language. The study was conducted to establish how teleconferencing could affect these remote participants’ understanding of the pain management treatment that was being provided to hospice patients in an attempt to come up with a care plan that is best suited to improving quality of life for patients.


Why Use CRM Software? 10 Reasons To Get One For Your Company


Why Use CRM?
Why Use CRM?

Regardless of the industry or niche in which you’re operating, building and maintaining quality relationships with customers should remain one of the core factors for your success. This may not be the challenge or priority of a local store that knows exactly who it is dealing with, but as operations grow in complexity and business expands, the need for a digitized solution simply imposes itself.

This explains in brief why CRM software solutions came to be one of the leading SaaS software branches in the last years. CRM systems collect and organize your current customer data, but even more importantly – they help you gather such data, and reach out to audiences you had no idea would be interested in your product or service. Based on a simple logic of neat organization and timely promotion, CRMs earned a place in every industry, which is why you may also want to start looking for one yourself.

At the same time, most CRM software systems nowadays are hosted in the cloud, and made accessible and easy to maintain even for the smallest business or sole entrepreneur. Let’s take a look why a CRM solution may be worthwhile for your company.

According to Gartner, the CRM software market reached $26.3B in 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Use CRM Software

1. It optimizes your marketing strategy and makes your service more credible

A large portion of our readers looking to compare various CRM solutions are in fact startup companies and low-tier service providers still building up a market profile. This doesn’t come as a surprise knowing how useful CRMs can be to motivate buyers to actually turn to a specific vendor.

How does it work? Companies are constantly performing market research looking to target the ideal customer profile, and CRMs help them understand customers’ behavior and tackle their specific needs. Another important task they perform is to identify the best time to promote and present services to those customers, and use the results of such strategies to further expand the list of prospects. CRM systems also have a positive effect on efficient resource allocation, as businesses relying on reputed software are also the favorites among profitable market groups. Put into perspective, a CRM product will help you target the right leads at the right time and with the right resources.

2. It supports your cross-selling and upselling efforts

The ultimate goal of using a CRM system is always to trigger it for deal closure, which is why the best-of-breed systems always support practices such as upselling and cross-selling. In the upselling case, they draw intelligence from the customer’s current purchase to bring similar products to his attention, and rely on tags and categories you’ve previously inserted. Cross-selling is also a part of the game, where the system tracks a customer’s previous purchases to suggest new products, and to get an idea of what he’ll be looking for. All details are then stored in a centralized database, ideally in an individual customer profile the agent can always turn to and see who he’s dealing with. Basically, a good CRM will be delegated the task of spotting and using opportunities, and will therefore end up boosting your profits.

3. It improves your relationship with current customers

The most important rule when running a customer-focused business is a simple one: you will be successful as long as your customers are satisfied. This is where CRM systems help the most, as they drive your marketing, invoicing, and selling efforts in the right direction. To start with, a CRM will help you organize all customer-related operations, from automated welcoming messages to service and checkout. Being able to understand what they expect from you, you will also decrease their agitation and collect valuable feedback that matters to the future placement of your products and services.

Satisfactory and efficient service delivered at all times and on all channels (email, phone, social media, web forms, surveys, etc.) also guarantees that you will be warmly recommended to customers acquaintances, and grow your customer base using nothing but what you’ve already invested.

4. It turns customer data into revenue intelligence

There is a lot to learn from how your customers accept and evaluate your service, but marketing optimization is by far the most valuable data you will pull out. CRMs simply teach you how to ‘energize’ promotional campaigns, and promote products to unfamiliar audiences that will statistically be interested in them. The powerful standard and custom reports delivered by most CRMs also provide a clear insight on the health of each operation, performance of each agent, and the overall sustainability of your relationship management strategy. Believe it or not, this is the source most successful companies turn to to identify bottlenecks, rather than spending hours analyzing financial data.

5. It identifies and removes inefficient practices

Speaking of the information delivered by CRM systems, we should also explain how it deals with the valuable time businesses lose combining methods to evaluate their customers’ behavior. CRMs consolidate different methods, practices, and tools needed to track customer activity, and finally spare you from double entries and the dull, automated approach customers find so frustrating. With a good system in place, you will eliminate all costly manual errors, and still make each customer feel as if he was the most valuable lead you have at the moment.

6. It makes customer information available to all agents

A part of CRM’s standardized data organizing strategy is to keep all relevant details in a knowledge base from where all agents can access them (in most cases, depending on the roles and permissions they’ve been assigned with). That database is usually cloud-hosted, and all it takes to get there are the right credentials and a good internet connection. As expected, most of today’s popular CRM systems are fully mobile optimized, and thus accessible from all devices, browsers, and operating systems. Some of them also provide dedicated apps for Android and iOS users.

7. It streamlines invoicing

Most of today’s CRMs are equipped with at least some basic financial management tools, and the rationale for it is to stop you from extracting sensitive sales data to a third system. In the perfect scenario, you will be able to create quotes, prepare and send invoices to your customer from the same platform where you’ve completed their order. You can also automate other time and expense-related paperwork, streamline the experience of your customers, and make sure money always arrive on time.

Certain CRM products also integrate with leading payment gateways to help users complete payment and checkout without even abandoning your website/e-store.

8. It tracks the performance of your agents

Many business owners rely on their CRM system to understand how agents are performing, and develop intelligent strategies on how to assign leads and tasks in the future. It is also the CRM system where they understand who are the people available at the moment, and divert inquiries to other departments in case the agent requested is not available. Practically, the CRM makes each employee’s schedule clearly visible, and helps compare who is closing the most or the least of the company’s deals. Recently, CRM developers explore the new and attractive gamification concept that lets admins award top performers with bonuses, points, or even promotions.

9. It manages your social media activity

We can’t deny social media the credit for most of what modern businesses are earning, as platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn are an ocean of potential contacts and deal opportunities. At the same time, both large and small businesses find it difficult to maintain an active presence on all of them, and personally respond to all inquiries and questions without losing focus on the rest of their work.

CRMs do a notable job here as well. Most cloud-based CRM solutions of today are tightly integrated to social platforms, and allow you to post automatically and manage all of your profiles from a single platform. Some of them even go as far as to alert you on deadlines and opportunities, or collect all product-related mentions and comments for you to respond on time. For instance, you can adjust the settings of your CRM to depict any desired type of social activity by simply selecting keywords such as ‘customer support’, ‘customer service’, and many more.

10. It is no longer an enterprise-exclusive service

HubSpot is currently one of the best free CRM on the market
HubSpot is currently one of the best free CRM on the market

Just a decade ago, powerful CRM systems were considered to be enterprise-exclusive products, which was a reasonable thing to believe with their spinning high prices and complex installations. Luckily, developers saw small businesses as the ideal audience in need of such products, and started working on their cloud-hosted versions that require neither time nor bank-breaking amounts.

It is easy to find a great CRM at a reasonable price nowadays, and at the same time get a confirmation that no recurrent costs or maintenance fees will apply in future. Some of the most solid pieces are even offered for free, which is why we recommend even newly launched businesses to get one and try it out. Currently the leader among free CRMs is HubSpot which offers are really rich package of features at no cost whatsoever. If you’d like to check it you can easily get HubSpot CRM for free here.

How to choose the best CRM application?

1. Pay attention to its contact management features

The most critical part of any CRM system is contact management, so make sure you choose an advanced one that is ‘tweakable’, and able to grow with your business. Consider customization to deliver personalized service to your customers, and opt for the most scalable storage scheme offered.

2. Test customer support in advance

There is little chance that your introduction to the system will go by without questions, so examine whether customer support is actually worth the money you’re paying for it. When buying a CRM tool, you’re buying a commitment to a company, so ensure they will be there for you at any moment. Ideally, they should be accessible 24/7 and using several communication channels (phone, email, live support, social media).

3. Check out integrations

In the best scenario, you will get yourself an open API system that can function in any software ecosystem, and therefore requires minimal adjustment to adopt. If this is not the case, however, check the list of integrations offered by the vendor, and look in particular for prominent social networks, ERP, customer service, and payment gateway systems.