Throughout history, almost all consequential events have come from the unexpected.
That perspective, borrowed from the bestselling book The Black Swan, fuels Ron Galloway’s presentation on “The Data Driven Hospital: How Facilities Design and IT are Merging to Reboot Healthcare,” presented to an audience of healthcare administrators, consultants, architects and construction professionals Nov. 20 in Minneapolis. The event was hosted by Kraus-Anderson’s Healthcare Group.
A former investment advisor and analyst, Galloway now puts his skills to work examining the disruptive and unexpected effects of new technologies. His work includes the film Why Walmart Works; articles for the Huffington Post; and wide-ranging coverage including CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, ABC World News Tonight, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
In the developed world, healthcare’s horizons are being shaped by Ambient Intelligence (A.I.), states Galloway. A new paradigm in information technology, A.I. denotes a digital environment that is aware of human presence and context, and is sensitive, adaptive, and responsive to their needs, habits, gestures and emotions. Applied to the healthcare industry, A.I. is the Siri who could save your life.
A recent study examining ten healthcare megatrends identified five that involved A.I. applications. Driven by the rise of new technologies, experts predict that, over the next decade, as much as 50% of healthcare will move from hospitals and clinics to homes and communities, Galloway said. Even today, new technologies are empowering consumers with more information and control over their healthcare decisions.
Among the vast opportunities A.I. brings to healthcare providers is the ability to better analyze information, especially when it is shared among its various data domains, said Galloway. Smart Hospital technology, properly leveraged, allows healthcare providers to aggregate information from its various data domains– those relating to people, plant, equipment, electronic health records, finance and even genetic data—to make inferences and respond appropriately to changing conditions.
A.I. can also partner with medicine to crunch immense volumes of data in pursuit of answers to puzzles like cancer. Watson, the supercomputer best known for its appearances on Jeopardy, is partnering with Sloan Kettering to analyze millions of pages of unstructured text in patient records and medical literature to locate the most relevant answers to diagnostic and treatment-related questions, Galloway pointed out.
Other healthcare applications for A.I. include scheduling and automatic check in for regular patients, as well as non-invasive estimates of glucose and blood pressure, said Galloway.
Body sensors and smart environments that monitor motion are increasingly in use in skilled care settings such as Memory Care units in senior housing and in specialized healthcare units. In Alzheimer’s patient wards, remote monitoring through pressure pads and other sensor devices can monitor behavior and check for any unusual deviations from baseline patterns.
Americans’ love of wearables such as earbuds and Fitbits prepares us for similar devices for capturing, aggregating and contextualizing valuable health data. In a hospital setting, A.I. wearables can detect staff and direct them where they are most needed. A bracelet sensor could monitor a nurse’s critical vital signs, indicating fatigue; or assist visitors in wayfinding. And remote monitoring devices can drastically reduce the cost of healthcare.
As our technological capacity for collecting and meaningfully assessing data from multiple sensory inputs continues to grow, A.I. will be a game changer for how patients, healthcare providers and healthcare facilities interact. Understanding where these trends are coming from, and where they’re headed, says Galloway, can give us the foresight to spot the black swan on the horizon.