In an NHS pilot project, AI-equipped kettles and fridges are reducing unplanned hospital readmissions in England.
The initiative, named ADAPTIVE, forms part of the NHS’s Onward Care strategy, which delivers care to patients – particularly the elderly – after hospital discharge.
Adrian McCourt, Managing Director of Onward Care, shared the results of a trial in the Buckinghamshire Trust, where 140 patients were supported at home for 12 weeks post-hospital discharge.
He explained that 40% of frail patients are typically readmitted within six months of discharge, but this pilot reduced that number by 77%.
Jenny Ricketts, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Buckinghamshire Trust, described AI’s role in the project: “AI is here to work with us, not to do the job for us. People, especially the elderly, like human contact. The AI just makes it easier for us to do that.”
UK technology company Miicare created the ADAPTIVE project to support elderly and vulnerable individuals at home. The system uses IoT electronic sensors in everyday home appliances like kettles and fridges.
The sensors monitor variations in patients’ eating and drinking habits, alerting Onward Care staff to potential health concerns. AI analyzes patterns collected through the sensors and classifies unusual activities, thus triggering the alert.
Sensors are connected to a device named “Monica,” which is similar to Amazon’s Alexa. Monica collects data like the number of steps taken or time spent in each room, which AI analyzes.
“If a patient’s behaviour is changing we get a notification which prompts us to investigate the situation,” explained McCourt.
“We also have sensors on fridges and kettles, which we use as a proxy to understand whether hydration and nutrition is changing over time.”
Similarly to Alexa and other home assistants, Monica can also engage with users by offering daily greetings, humor, motivation for physical activity, reminders for hydration and medication, and even entertainment like playing music, etc.
Smart home technology like Monica is playing an important role in supporting elderly individuals’ health at home, with most leading smart home assistants like Alexa, Google Nest, etc, offering purpose-made features specifically for residential care.
Elderly individuals are seeing the benefits, too, as devices like Alexa are intuitive and easy to operate via voice for those with vision or mobility issues.
AI is set to bring smart home technology to life, with Amazon announcing new AI-augmented features for Alexa earlier in the year.