Accenture, a Dreamit Health partner in bringing innovative startups to market, has completed a pilot program that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and the ease of voice to help older people manage the daunting challenges of navigating their care delivery and well-being. The Accenture Liquid Studio in London developed an AI-powered platform (the Accenture Platform) that can learn user behaviors and preferences and suggest activities to support the overall physical and mental health of individuals ages 70 and older.
“With the help of Age UK London, we identified the more common challenges of everyday life for older people – from setting daily reminders to the heartache of loneliness – and applied AI to create a human-centered platform to provide support and assistance.”
The Accenture platform, which runs on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud, includes a ‘Family and Carer’ portal that lets family and caregivers check on the individual’s daily activities, such as whether they have taken their medication or made new requests for caregivers. The Accenture platform can also spot abnormalities in behavior and alert family or friends, based on user-defined permissions.
Other services provided by the Accenture platform helped participants find local events as well as potential new friends, encouraging them to become more active and social. It also gave them better access to reading and learning materials, music, daily exercises, appointment reminders and required them to confirm when they completed the assignment. The services in the pilot were delivered through the new Amazon Echo Show.
The Accenture platform was tested over a three-month pilot period, from August to October 2017, with a focus group of approximately 60 people aged at least 70 years old and living independently. A further 20 participants brought the Echo Show into their homes to interact with the technology in a more natural environment. The testing phase helped identify some of the most challenging tasks within the home and aided in the development of solutions built into the Accenture platform.
The Accenture platform’s combination of voice activation, on-screen prompts and underlying cloud-based AI technology provided the participants with new ways of doing a range of tasks and extending their well-being. In building the platform, Accenture used the self-service Amazon Alexa Skills Kit to customize the AI to power the devices and employed advanced secure cloud technologies such as AWS Lambda and Amazon S3.
“The Accenture platform demonstrates Accenture’s ‘People First’ approach that puts technology to work for people to help create more human experiences and achieve better outcomes,” said Laetitia Cailleteau, head of Accenture Liquid Studio London. “With the help of Age UK London, we identified the more common challenges of everyday life for older people – from setting daily reminders to the heartache of loneliness – and applied AI to create a human-centered platform to provide support and assistance.”
Feedback from pilot program participants was very positive, with comments such as how “it’s like having a friend in the other room. I’d be lost without it now” from an 87-year-old woman from Merseyside and “it’s reinforcing my autonomy” from a 76-year-old man from London.
According to Age UK, the UK faces challenges with the delivery of care for older citizens. Misallocated resources cost UK taxpayers an estimated £173 million (approx. US$273 million) per year. Elderly care programs, such as this initiative from Accenture which uses AWS, Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Alexa Skills Kit can help reduce these costs by allowing caregivers to provide support remotely and supplement in-home visits. In addition, loneliness is a pervasive problem, with 200,000 older people in the UK going a month or longer without having a conversation with friends or family. The Accenture platform helped to address this by bringing people together virtually and in-person.
“Older people are not a homogenous group; the aging experience is very personal, with each person having different needs, and we now have technology that can deliver an increasingly personalized experience to them,” said Paul Goulden, Age UK London’s chief executive. “The elderly care pilot has helped show how technology can improve the well-being of older people. The potential here is huge. I look forward to seeing how Accenture and Amazon Web Services technologies can positively impact future developments for the benefit of older people.”
Dr. Matt Wood, the general manager for Deep Learning and AI at Amazon Web Services Inc., said, “We are working closely with Accenture and other Amazon Partner Network partners to help facilitate so that people can have equal access to the benefits AI can bring. Through pilot programs such as this, we can continue to find new ways to use the Alexa service and other Amazon AI services to help the elderly – and people from all walks of life – enhance their wellbeing.”
In the United States, Accenture recently developed a voice-activated physician-search capability for Amazon Alexa, making the task of finding a physician as simple as asking Amazon Alexa for help. Accenture has contributed the code to the open source community for further development.
Accenture is dedicated to leading the charge toward Responsible AI, with the goal of providing better outcomes for all people. Through its #AI4Good initiative and working with its Global 2000 clients to actively design and direct AI to augment and amplify human capabilities, Accenture is committed to helping people to achieve more for themselves as individuals and for the world around them.
The Accenture AWS Business Group (AABG) helps clients capitalize on a cloud-first agenda by developing agile, enterprise cloud solutions to drive innovation and transform business processes, tooling, and talent to address the new opportunities inherent in the intelligent enterprise on the AWS platform. The AABG has trained 3,200 Accenture technologists and earned more than 1,400 AWS certifications, helping enterprise clients – such as Avalon Healthcare Solutions, Capital One, Hess Corporation, and Mediaset – accelerate innovation for ongoing business transformation.