Umps Heath applies our innovative technology to support people with disabilities.

In March, we received the exciting news that Umps Health was accepted into the Remarkable Accelerator Program, Australia’s leading disability focussed start-up accelerator.

While our focus to date has been on older Australians, we were motivated to explore the application in the disability sector after a number of people with disabilities enquired about our technology.

One of those people was Fiona. Fiona has cared for her sister Caroline since an accident left her with an acquired brain injury. Caroline has poor balance and a limited short-term memory. In addition to being prone to falls, personal alarms and wearables are difficult to use as Caroline needs to remember to wear them. Because the existing solutions don’t work for them, Fiona calls Caroline several times a day to make sure she’s OK. Umps Health provides an alternative to these calls with round-the-clock, real-time insights that can empower Caroline to live safely and independently and reduce the burden on Fiona.

There are more than 4 million people in Australia living with disabilities. While the spectrum of needs is diverse, we know our technology has the potential to change the lives of a large number of people like Caroline.

What does Remarkable mean for Umps Health?

Remarkable will run in Sydney over the next 16 weeks, and provide us with access to seed funding, dedicated workspace in the Sydney Startup Hub, disability expertise from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and an extensive mentor and partner network. Our goals for the program are:

  • To refine our problem-solution fit.Wewant to understand what it’s like to live with a disability, and identify the cohorts of people with disabilities that could leverage our technology to live independently.
  • To establish and test a go-to-market strategy. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) offers the potential for reimbursement of assistive technology that supports a person with disabilities to live independently. Through Remarkable, we want to establish a plan for reimbursement and secure a commercial pilot with an NDIS provider.

We’re excited about what the next 16 weeks holds for Umps Health, and will be sure to keep you ‘in the loop’! If you or someone you know has an interest in disability and technology and can support us with achieving these goals, we’d love to connect with you at info@umpshealth.com.

Applying design principles to end-of-life care: Could you design One Good Death?

Meet Norman.

Norman is 89 years old, and has lived in the same house for 50 years. Norman’s daughter visits him regularly with her dogs, but after his wife passed away last year he’s become more and more socially isolated. Now, his day revolves around medical appointments. Norman has a predicted lifespan of 6 months.

How would you design a good death for Norman?

There’s a workshop for that.

Recently I was invited to join a workshop to apply the principles of design to end of life care and ‘design’ one good death. The One Good Death Workshop was hosted by Bolton Clarke and RMIT as part of the Engaging for Impact program, which this year has a big focus on the future of care.

Matiu Bush, Innovator in Residence at Bolton Clarke, opened the session by explaining Bolton Clarke’s approach to mapping people’s end of life journey, and outlining the goals of the workshop.

“The concept of a good death is one that recognises the whole-of-life contribution of people living in aged care, or in the community, as they near the end of life. Through focusing on one good death we hope to break this wicked problem into a number of smaller, more personal experiences that participants can address through empathetic design approaches. By designing one good death we hope to promote an approach that can be scaled to help many families” – Matiu Bush

As my fellow participants were introduced I began to notice the diversity among people in the room. There were artists, architects, designers, academics, aged care providers, funeral directors, startups, advocates and representatives from peak bodies and the Victorian Government. I suddenly had an appreciation of how people’s end of life journey involves navigating a complex system.

Adam Jahnke at the One Good Death workshop

Adam Jahnke at the One Good Death workshop hosted by RMIT and Bolton Clarke

Using empathy to design One Good Death

To design one good death, the group used a process developed by Leah Heiss, a Melbourne based designer and lecturer at RMIT. We used different tactile shapes to represent Norman’s goals, roadblocks to achieving those goals and potential workarounds. By the end of the workshop we had developed a ‘pathway’ to a good death for Norman.

The greatest workarounds were achieved when teams stopped looking at end of life through a “medicalised” paradigm and instead empathised with the personas and their needs. For some, a good death involved appointing a professional ‘death champion’ to advocate for them. For others, it required a facilitated family conference alleviating the worry around family conflict. For one of the personas, it was simply being assured his cat would be looked after when he died. Technology was referenced a few times, but it was always with the intent of enabling a specific outcome for a person.

How would your loved ones like to die?

Using personas and design principals is a different approach to developing end-of-life care, which was a highly debated topic in 2017. Last year, the Victorian Government passed legislation to enable assisted dying for a small group of Victorians suffering from an incurable illness and living in intolerable pain. Among my peers, I’ve noticed that many people come to support the legislation after witnessing the death of a loved one. In fact, it was the death of Premier Daniel Andrews’ father that changed his mind on assisted dying. It’s confronting, but considering how the people we love would like to die fosters empathy with those in end-of-life care. As the One Good Death workshop showed, this might be the key to designing and ‘scaling’ one good death.

Congratulations again to RMIT and Bolton Clarke. The workshop was truly an innovative approach to end of life care; I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes and bringing the process of ‘roadmapping’ the ageing experience to Umps Health’s product team.

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How will artificial intelligence support care in the home?

The emergence of more powerful computers, near-ubiquitous mobile broadband and cloud computing has created exponential change across every industry and society. Increasingly, we are seeing the convergence of physical and cyber systems, what society has termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT, combined with advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence will fundamentally change society in the next five years with the commercialisation of autonomous vehicles, sensor-based health monitoring and ‘smart-homes’.

The aged care services industry is neither exempt nor oblivious to this change. In February 2014, The Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council and Accenture jointly released a vision for information technology across aged care services. This vision identified five ‘ICT Pillars’ that will enable the industry to build capacity, and adjust to ‘the new environment’. In 2016, Flinders University was commissioned to build on this vision, and outline an IT Roadmap that would support the execution of the Aged Care Sector Roadmap. This work is currently underway, with extensive consultation occurring at the Information in Aged Care Conference in November 2016.

In this article, I outline how advancements in the IoT and artificial intelligence have the potential to support carers of older Australians, as well as the long-term sustainability of informal care. This was the topic of a recent presentation at the Melbourne Accelerator Program’s Social Impact Showcase, where Umps Health was were awarded the Gourlay-Trinity Impact Prize for ‘demonstrating exceptional knowledge in a social issue’.

THE “CARERS’ WORKFLOW”

To demonstrate the capability of IoT and artificial intelligence, it is helpful to think of the workflow of a carer in the following stages:

  1. Gathering data:In order to provide care, a carer must first obtain data about the wellbeing of an individual. This could be through phone calls or a visit to the person. Other examples are the Red Cross TeleCross service, which call more than 9000 Australians every day or the button people press once a day when they use a personal alarm service.
  2. Analysing and interpreting the data: This data must then be analysed in the context of past behaviour and health history. Does a missed phone call indicate someone has fallen in their home, or are they out for a coffee with friends? If a person says they are OK, are they actually OK or are they simply trying not to worry people? We might not think about this explicitly, but we are subconsciously making an assessment when there is an abnormality in the data.
  3. Determining a recommended course of action: If a carer interprets the data as unusual, they will evaluate options and decide on a course of action. This may be to make a visit to their relative, schedule an appointment with a doctor or to call emergency services.
  4. Implementing the course of action: After a carer has determined the appropriate course of action, the ‘caring’ begins. This is the intrinsically human component of caring, and could be as simple as physical or emotional comfort, or driving someone to the doctor. In the event they need to consult a third party, the entire workflow will commence once again.

ENRICHING OUR ABILITY TO COLLECT DATA THROUGH THE INTERNET OF THINGS

It is estimated that the average household in Australia has more than 11 connected devices, and this is projected to grow to more than 29 devices before the end of the decade. Some examples of connected devices include refrigerators, TVs, cameras, lighting, fitness trackers and bathroom scales.

The proliferation of these ‘IoT enabled devices’ has generated huge amounts of data, which service providers can leverage to develop innovative consumer services. For example, knowing that an individual has used their kettle in the morning is evidence they have got out of bed, while understanding how someone uses their microwave provides powerful insights into their eating habits. In this way, the IoT has enriched our ability to collect data. 

ENHANCING OUR CAPACITY TO ANALYSE AND INTERPRET DATA THROUGH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial intelligence is a domain in computer science that seeks to simulate human intelligence. A key principle of intelligence is the ability to learn, and while we haven’t yet created the sorts of artificial intelligence popularised in fiction (like Rosie from the Jetsons), you may be surprised at the amount of artificial intelligence you already interact with everyday. Netflix uses advanced algorithms to assess your interest in different movies and make tailored predictions on content you will enjoy. Pandora uses artificial intelligence to analyse complex characteristics in music and build custom playlists for us, and Siri is constantly learning how to more effectively respond to human language questions.

Even those 11 devices currently in Australian homes could generate hundreds of data points per day, making it extremely difficult for human intelligence (carers or aged care service providers) to generate insights. This is in contrast to artificial intelligence, which can analyse small abnormalities in the context of past behaviour of the individual, while crosschecking against anonymised data from hundreds of thousands of other people.

Imagine your father boils water at 2:43AM and again at 3:17AM. This is not entirely unusual for your dad, who often has a cup of tea after working late on his computer. However, a machine learning program assesses this in conjunction with the large number of lights that have been left on in the house, the fact that the computer hasn’t been used all evening and knowledge that your dad made toast half an hour earlier. Further analysis against population data suggests that this combination of anomalies could be associated with a loss of sense of time, an early symptom of dementia. It isn’t difficult to imagine a future where a program would then review your calendar against available appointments with your father’s GP, and make a tentative booking on your behalf.

WHY SHOULD WE EMBRACE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

As the capabilities of artificial intelligence grow, there is a social imperative to the adoption of artificial intelligence-based services. Firstly, artificial intelligence can help older people to age in place, making greater sense of large amounts of data to predict and potentially prevent an incident like a fall. Secondly, it can provide peace of mind to the 2.8 million Australians providing unpaid care each year, allowing them to participate in paid employment and reducing the physical and emotional stress associated with being an informal caregiver.

A REAL EXAMPLE, UMPS HEALTH

I am a believer in the power of artificial intelligence and the IoT because I use it to provide better care to my family. After designing a solution like the above for my grandpa, I founded Umps Health. Umps Health uses uses connected devices to collect data about how people interact with their appliances, like their kettle, TV and microwave. Our machine-learning platform generates tailored insights based on past patterns of behaviour, and raises an alert to carers when behaviour is out of the norm. With this technology, we can better inform carers when an incident (like a fall) may have occurred, or when someone’s behaviour demonstrates they are at heightened risk of an incident.

By reducing the time and effort required to collect data, interpret data and determine a recommended course of action, we hope to improve the lives of both those receiving care and those delivering it.

About the Author
Adam Jahnke is the founder and CEO of Umps Health, a company that uses machine learning to enable better living outcomes for older people. He has previously worked on smart city and smart home projects throughout Australia and South-East Asia. Adam is also studying a Master of Public Health at the University of Melbourne, with a research focus on international and intergenerational response to challenges associated with ageing.

For more information, contact Adam at adam@umpshealth.com.

 

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