How AI can support care: Application scenario shows opportunities and limits
Munich, 22 March 2021
Whether service robots, intelligent walkers or lifting aids for transferring patients – technical assistance systems can support people in need of care as well as their relatives and caregivers in the near future with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In a current application scenario, the Plattform Lernende Systeme illustrates a care situation that could be reality in a few years. A multimedia graphic (in German) illustrates how AI systems can enable a stroke patient to lead a self-determined life at home and which questions still need to be clarified along the way.
In the application scenario “AI for support in care” (in German), a 64-year-old female patient will be able to return to her home in the mid-2020s with the support of AI-based assistance systems after a stroke. Despite paralysis of one arm and mild dementia, she can live there largely self-determined. Clicking through the individual stations of the interactive graphic opens up a glimpse into the future of care. For example, an intelligent rollator helps the patient to correct postural errors when walking and to avoid falls. A service robot supports the patient, for example, in transporting food or laundry. A robotic arm relieves the outpatient nurse and the caring son when lifting the patient, for example when she wants to get out of bed. When caring for a fall wound, augmented reality (AR) glasses support the caregivers. These and other AI systems presented in the application scenario already exist today, but most are still in the research or development phase.
According to the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office, 4.1 million people in Germany are dependent on care. Four out of five people in need of care are looked after at home by relatives and outpatient care services – and the trend is rising. At the same time, there will be a shortage of around 500,000 care workers by 2035, estimates the Institute of the German Economy. “How do we want to shape good care tomorrow? This is one of the central questions for the future in our society. The significant increase in the number of people in need of care in the coming years and the high workload for caregivers are major challenges in this regard. The potential of AI-based assistance systems in care is huge. It is now up to us to create the necessary technical, social, ethical and legal conditions for using these systems in care for the benefit of all. We want to contribute to this debate with our application scenario,” says Susanne Boll-Westermann, professor of media informatics at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg and head of the working group “Business Model Innovations” of the Plattform Lernende Systeme.
AI for the benefit of those in need of care
The application scenario shows: Artificial intelligence cannot and should not replace human attention – but it is capable of relieving caregivers and relatives of physically demanding and time-consuming routine activities. “Caregivers should primarily be concerned with the well-being of patients and not waste unnecessary time handling the robot. The machine must always serve the human being and not vice versa. The goal must be to improve the quality of care – not to increase efficiency,” says Elisabeth André, Chair of Human-Centered Multimedia at the Interdisciplinary Institute of Informatics of the University of Augsburg and head of the working group “Future of Work and Human-Machine Interaction”
With numerous videos and image galleries, the application scenario illustrates how various assistance systems work. Experts from science, companies, trade unions and education explain the state of research and name the challenges that have to be overcome for an introduction in care. In addition to technological issues, these include in particular the protection of the individual, the trustworthiness of the systems, a sensible division of labor between humans and machines, and conducive working conditions and the AI systems.
About the application scenario
The application scenario “AI for support in care” was developed by experts from the working groups “Future of Work and Human-Machine Interaction”, “Business Model Innovations” and “Health Care, Medical Technology, Care” of Plattform Lernende Systeme. Most of the projects presented here are currently still in the research or development phase. The participating experts from universities, research institutions and companies are convinced that the applications shown are possible in the future.