Artificial Intelligence Attempts to Counter Patient Neglect at Hospitals, Nursing Homes

Patient neglect causes serious issues in hospitals throughout the country, including pressure ulcers, falls and medication errors. However, a new company is attempting to gather data about patients using artificial intelligence which will, hopefully, led to fewer patients neglected in hospital rooms. The new sensor from start-up Inspiren is currently on trial at a hospital in Queens.

The sensor, which is roughly the size of a thermostat and possesses a glowing ring, will attempt to accurately report when a patient is “checked on” by a nurse or hospital staff member. While common procedure across the country, “hourly” check-ins by nurses are not uniformly followed when the hospital or staff are busy. The sensor, which is named “iN” will sit on a wall and monitor when a staff member enters and leaves a room. If the “iN” glows green, then the patient has been checked on recently. Unsurprisingly, yellow and red serve as warning signs that a patient may need assistance. Unsurprisingly, iN will come with an app notifying nurses whenever a patient has not been checked on in an hour.

According to Inspiren, the sensor does not use facial sensors and is fully HIPAA compliant, the federal privacy law protecting medical records. In fact, the device itself does not even use facial sensors. According to Fast Company, patients are identified only by their room number and hospital staff are identified by their “limb lengths, as if they were stick figures.” The device maker claims its 95 percent accurate when it comes to between hospital staff visiting the patient and other visitors.

The makers of iN correctly note that this device could serve a large problem in the healthcare system – medical errors and patient neglect. A 2016 study found that 250,000 deaths in America each year are caused by medical errors, an avoidable problem.  Further, patient neglect causes real harm to patients, especially those in nursing homes where senior citizens are commonly bedridden and need assistance moving and using the restroom. For these people, pressure ulcers and falls are a common problem that can also be easily avoided.

For iN, and other similar artificial intelligence sensors, to spread throughout the healthcare system it will need to prove itself effective and accurate. Further, Inspiren will need it is not only capable of following HIPAA but also cares about ensuring the data harvested from patients and hospitals is kept private. If it can accomplish these two goals, then for the half of all hospitals in the country planning to use artificial intelligence in the next five years, iN could be a wise investment.

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