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Can AI make healthcare more human?

How AI is reshaping the health and aged care workforce

In 2020, Australia’s healthcare workers put themselves on the frontline, risking their lives for others. Gruelling hours and workloads led to physical and emotional exhaustion, yet their unwavering compassion, resilience and humanity exemplified their commitment to patient care.

The pandemic may be over, but the profession remains overworked, under-resourced and struggling with burnout and attrition. However, Australia has an opportunity to unlock capacity, reduce non-essential tasks, improve patient outcomes and enable healthcare workers to focus of quality of care. 

How? Enter advanced and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence.

“The possibilities for improvement of health and aged care through digitisation are endless. If you can digitise something, you can optimise it.” says Dr Kellie Nuttall, Strategy, Business Design & AI at Deloitte Australia. “AI can inform changes in treatment plans quickly and efficiently with minimal human intervention. Apps can schedule surgeries and rosters to suit patients and healthcare workers alike.”

James Triggs, Data & AI at Deloitte Australia, anticipates AI will be invaluable in both high - and low-value tasks. “Generative AI can expertly transcribe and summarise consultations, analyse and identify trends, and can also assist in roles as vital as triaging patients. Saving time and energy for all involved and ensuring a greater level of accuracy, documentation, structure and data analysis. This will free up healthcare professionals for more holistic, higher quality care for patients.”

Meal Vision

This technology is closer than we think. Compass Group, a global leader in food and support services, is already implementing Meal Vision, an AI-enabled device, in aged-care facilities to support staff and improve the experiences and health outcomes of residents. The solution was developed with Deloitte Australia and AerVision.

Meal Vision scans individuals' plates to measure what, and how much, has been eaten. This data feeds into an AI cloud-based platform hosted by AWS Cloud which is shared with staff and clinicians to analyse consumption over time, informing meal planning and personalised care plans, and identifying or preventing issues, such as malnutrition.

Michael Foenander, General Manager of Senior Living at Compass Group Australia says "Modern technology, like Meal Vision, is a gamechanger. It can provide clinicians information and accurate insights to inform decisions. We’re also witnessing how critical it is to extend this information to family members, with the enhanced visibility enabling trust in the care provided to a patient."

These innovations are exciting but can be daunting for patients and health- and aged-care professionals. The key to implementing advanced and emerging technologies across the health and aged care system will be to take a person-centred and collaborative approach across sectors, ensuring staff are engaged from the beginning and lead the change.

"Humans and machines need to work together to get the best out of health and aged care. As the sector transforms, we need to remember that trust is developed between people, not a system or piece of technology. Using new technologies is not about replacing people with AI – it’s about informing and enhancing insights and decision-making, as well as optimising what can be done without a personal touch or sense of human judgement” says Dr Nuttall.

Australia has the opportunity to be at the forefront of the AI revolution of health and aged care, led by innovations like Meal Vision, where people are the priority, whether receiving or delivering care.

Humans and machines need to work together to get the best out of health and aged care. As the sector transforms, we need to remember that trust is developed between people, not a system or piece of technology.

Dr. Kellie Nuttall, Partner, Deloitte (Analytics and AI)

Be person-centred

People need to be the priority throughout the transformation, whether delivering or receiving care. This approach and mindset recognise that trust is developed with people, not technology. AI is here to support, not replace, humans, with an ongoing need for a personal touch and a sense of human judgement in healthcare provision.

Be collaborative

The changes require a range of skills and experiences across sectors and industries. It will be essential to work together. Take the time to research and learn from others about best practice examples of new technology is already being used in different health and aged care settings.

Engage your staff to lead the change

Healthcare professionals know what needs to be changed – understand what is impacting their day-to-day and seek their input on what should be digitised. Engaging staff from the beginning to lead the change will ensure the result is fit for all and brings everyone on the journey.

Support and train your staff

The level of change required can be daunting for everyone involved. Support staff in understanding how the changes may impact them, as well as highlight the potential to improve current conditions and lead to significant opportunities for their career. There will be many new technologies to learn and implement, with the need for a more digitally literate workforce. Invest in developing their skillsets!

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