My mom is an independent, active 75-year-old. The bridge group and YMCA group have trouble keeping up with her. But, driving at night now makes her nervous; she is alone at night more often. She is taking more trips to the doctor. She has asthma and mild osteoporosis, and has had some issues with acid reflux, depression, and high cholesterol over the years. Last year, she had to go to the emergency room for a cut to the head, had major dental work, and got a scare on a possible internal organ tumor. As a former teacher, she has a pension that allows her to live comfortably but those healthcare bills can pile up quickly and impact activities.
I love my mom and I worry about her, especially because I am several states away—even though she is in better shape than most 75-year-olds. My sister is close by in case there is an emergency, but they both like to live their own lives. When I think about my mom, I think about others like her and what I can be doing to ensure they live long and healthy lives.
That hatched a dream: My mom is a patient at a great healthcare organization like Geisinger and has enrolled in our Voice Partner program. The clinical team has developed her care plan—medications, visits, remote check-ins, home diet, hearing level, and activities. My team, Geisinger in Motion,has programmed that care plan, along with her routine, contacts, preferences, motivations, and behaviors, into her Voice Partner. After a home visit, she is ready to get started.
Voice Partner is standard voice assistant technology already available, right? almost. Voice Partner is a little different. It is two-way and interactive, answering when my mom asks it questions, and asking my mom, for example, if her new medication is causing any nausea. Voice Partner is HIPAA-compliant, so its machine learning and artificial intelligence technology have full access to my mom’s health information and can match that with her interests and routines.
My mom has found Voice Partner easy to use—which is a relief, she was a little nervous about how it would work. She retired before computers were prevalent in schools. She has a smart device and tries, but cannot seem to download apps or navigate the screen features as easily as her kids.
Voice Partner really helps my mom. On Monday morning, Voice Partner checks in with my mom regarding the week. Voice Partner has learned that my mom wakes at 6:30 a.m. and likes to get up, make a little coffee, and spend a few minutes reflecting before engaging in conversation. Once the week is set, Voice Partner prompts my mom throughout the week with reminders, education, and questions on her care. My mom can also ask questions if she is feeling something unusual or is curious why morning weight-bearing exercises are helpful for her osteoporosis.
In the evenings, Voice Partner has also been a great comfort to her—she is not so lonely. Based on her interest in news, Voice Partner prompts her at 6:30 every evening to listen to an update. Voice Partner is also answering her many questions about the Oscars, which she loves to discuss. My mom does not want to feel like “Big Brother” is watching her; Voice Partner adds the right level of connection and she feels safe having a device she can quickly call on for help.
Voice Partner has also been looking out for the unexpected. Voice Partner knows when an appliance is left on; it prompted her on Thursday at 2 p.m. that the stove was still on, which is unusual for my mom. If she had not responded, Voice Partner would have used its authority to turn it off. Voice Partner was also concerned when it heard an unusual loud sound at 9 p.m. on Friday. Voice Partner asked my mom if she was okay. She said she slipped in the bathroom, so Voice Partner offered to call a car service to take her to a local urgent care clinic (which my stubborn mom declined). Voice Partner is programmed to verify needs, so it dialed the home program nurse on call to better assess my mom’s injury. Voice Partner is also integrated with her wearable device, her Bluetooth scale, and her Bluetooth blood pressure cuff.
What you have just read is currently a dream, but many of the components already exist. We have a patient engagement technology infrastructure, along with machine learning, artificial intelligence and voice assistants. My team has voice assistants in our “lab.” Geisinger launched its Geisinger at Home program this past April. A little industry help with tackling HIPAA for voice assistants and two-way communications, and we are all set. Wouldn’t Voice Partner be a great way to make sure that our loved ones are getting the care they need?