Pioneering AI project for elderly: Reducing early stage hospitalisation


A PIONEERING project is set to transform healthcare for older individuals in Sydney’s western suburbs using the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

Recent data shows that many Australians aged 65 and older present to Emergency Departments (EDs), with up to 41% seeking immediate medical care. Of concern, close to half of these cases end up with hospital admissions, putting seniors at greater health risks. However, studies suggest that a significant portion of these visits could be avoided.

With these statistics in mind, the Sydney Health Partnership for Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), a research Translation Centre whose focus is to transform healthcare, has funded an AI project which aims to revolutionise care for older people by detecting those people at risk of hospitalisation at an early stage. 

“Using AI algorithms, the project identifies older adults who can receive effective care within the community, thereby diverting unnecessary ED visits and hospital admissions,” explains the project leader, Western Sydney University Associate Professor, Genevieve Steiner.

“The overarching goal of this research being run by SPHERE’s Age and Ageing Clinical Theme is to enable older people to maintain independence, functionality, and diminish disability and deterioration by delivering timely and appropriate care,” A/Professor Steiner said.

“Recognising that the Emergency Department may not always be the most suitable setting, the project employs artificial intelligence (AI) to develop an algorithm that identifies older people at risk of preventable ED presentations who can be effectively cared for within the community. The outcomes will inform early intervention approaches, fostering empowerment and integration within community and primary care.”

Crucial to the success of this project is the robust collaboration across universities and local health districts. The project includes experts from Western Sydney University, University of NSW, South Western Sydney Local Health District, South Western Sydney Primary Health Network, South East Sydney Local Health District, HammondCare, Carers NSW, and Ambulance NSW. 

“The team includes lived experience experts, neuroscience, data science, software development, machine learning, health economics, knowledge translation, implementation science, innovation, change management, models of care for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, and a diverse clinical team,” says A/Professor Steiner.

“What truly distinguishes this initiative is its innovative use of AI-driven machine learning models. These sophisticated algorithms delve into a multitude of factors and data from a range of sources to tailor interventions to individual needs. By considering cultural backgrounds, care settings and community resources, the project aims to deliver personalised care that promotes independence for older residents.” 

SPHERE Executive Director, Professor Chris White explains that the implications of this project extend far beyond healthcare delivery. 

“It represents a shift in how we approach aging and healthcare management in our communities. Through early intervention and promoting integration within primary care settings, the initiative holds the promise of enhancing the quality of life for elderly residents in Sydney’s western suburbs,” he explained. 

Linda Music is Communications Officer, at Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE).

Author: admin

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