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The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Improving Home-Based Health Care for Frail Patients in the UK

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Ethan Sulliva
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The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Improving Home-Based Health Care for Frail Patients in the UK

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In the UK, a remarkable transformation is taking place in the healthcare sector, particularly in the way frail patients are cared for after their discharge from hospital. A new approach is leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to assist patients in their own homes, resulting in significant reductions in hospital readmission rates. This is not only easing the pressure on hospital sites but also supporting patients in utilising existing local services more effectively.

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Smart Appliances with Sensors: A Revolutionary Approach

The primary force behind this transformation is the use of smart appliances equipped with sensors to monitor the behaviour of patients. These devices alert a care team if any changes in the patient's behaviour indicate a need for extra help. This system has resulted in a staggering 77% reduction in readmission rates for recently-discharged patients considered frail. The purpose of this AI system is not to replace human contact but to make it easier for care teams to provide support.

Anticipatory Care for Frail Patients at Home

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According to the British Geriatrics Society (BGS), the long-awaited guidance on providing proactive care for frail people at home has been published by NHS England. This guidance, titled 'Providing care and support for people living at home with moderate or severe frailty,' is part of the Ageing Well programme. While appreciating the work done by NHS England, BGS President Adam Gordon stressed the need for collaboration with commissioners and system leaders for sustainable implementation, noting that the document lacked detail and evidence.

Use of Sensor Technology in Health Care

AI's role in healthcare extends beyond just home care for frail patients. The use of sensor technology for in-bed body position detection to combat pressure ulcers in patients is under review. Inertial sensors are being identified as the benchmark sensor type, and the Pressure Ulcer Position System (PUPS) guideline has been proposed to improve sensor comparability and clinical implementation.

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AI-Powered Apps: A Game-Changer for Chronic Conditions

AI's impact on healthcare is also evident in the management of chronic conditions. An AI-powered app, Breathe RM, is currently being trialled at the Royal Papworth Hospital in the UK to monitor and predict when patients with cystic fibrosis will fall ill, up to 10 days in advance. The app collects data from home monitoring devices and personal smartwatches, alerting patients when they should clear their airways or contact their doctor. This empowers patients to take control of their health, and similar technology is being developed to help those with bronchiectasis, another chronic lung condition.

In conclusion, the use of AI in healthcare is revolutionising patient care, particularly for frail patients and those with chronic conditions. By empowering patients and assisting care teams, AI is set to play a crucial role in the future of healthcare, particularly in home-based care. However, the successful implementation of these advancements requires careful planning, collaboration, and adequate funding to ensure that all patients have access to these life-changing technologies.

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