VANCOUVER, Wash. – A team of researchers from Washington State University has received a $1.77 million grant from the National Institution of Nursing Research to use artificial intelligence to interpret changes in the health of seniors aging in place.
“If we can understand changes in health states, then we can proactively intervene rather than reactively,” said Roschelle Fritz, assistant professor in the WSU College of Nursing, and one of the researchers.
The “clinician-in-the-loop” research project expands on work by Diane Cook and Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, the other researchers on the team, who developed a health-assistive smart home equipped with motion and infrared sensors. The technology uses intelligent algorithms that can accurately detect and label more than 40 activities of daily living and behavior patterns of older adults.
Fritz deployed the technology at a retirement community last year, with a goal of evaluating the clinical relevance of raw data from the sensors in detecting health changes in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
“If we can detect 40 known ADLs with accuracy, we can probably train that machine what is abnormal regarding health,” Fritz said. “That could be a really big thing.”
The new grant will fund health care professionals making home health visits to review the information collected by the sensors and identify data relevant to a patient’s health and safety. Using that data, engineers will then create computer algorithms to recognize meaningful behavior patterns.
Fritz said her team’s work is not meant to replace caregivers, but to help extend the reach of nurses and physicians as health care moves away from hospitals and into homes.
“It will be a really long time before we see robots giving care, but the ability to monitor people without too much of an invasion of privacy is something we will see very soon,” she said.