Brock researcher appointed 2021 AMS Fellow in Compassion and Artificial Intelligence

Technology exists in health care today that enables individuals to assess their risk factors for various health and social issues.

With advances in artificial intelligence, preliminary diagnoses can be delivered faster than ever before. However, some practitioners are questioning the implications of receiving distressing health news in the absence of a health-care provider.

Brock researcher Connie Schumacher will examine this issue as a 2021 AMS Fellow in Compassion and Artificial Intelligence, focusing on “Exploring how compassion-centred communication of risk can be applied to self-administered health assessments.”

The Assistant Professor of Nursing is one of 12 outstanding individuals from across multiple disciplines who have been selected by an external expert review panel as leaders and innovators to address challenges facing health care.

“As the clinical content lead for a caregiver web-platform and the caregiver to aging parents, I have completed many self-serve assessments that identify risk,” Schumacher, who is also a Registered Nurse, says. “Often the result is an algorithm delivering a diagnosis and nothing else. This can feel very inhuman and be very deflating, especially when there are no follow up resources provided. We have a responsibility to ensure information is communicated in a meaningly way.”

The AMS Compassion and AI fellowship program focuses on promoting the integration of digital technology and compassionate care in the delivery of health-care services, and education of health professionals as well as facilitating the leadership needed to realize the promise of technology.

With her fellowship project, Schumacher will explore communication of risk with a focus on understanding how to best relay messaging of results. She will be piloting a self-serve Check-Up assessment within St. Joseph’s Integrated Comprehensive Care program in Hamilton and evaluating whether the assessment results accompanied with online self-management resources enhance compassionate care.

“I seek to understand if risk is communicated in a compassionate, caring manner and if the resources resonate and align with the identified needs of patients being discharged,” says Schumacher. “The goal is to create messaging that is easily understood and provide realistic, actionable strategies for those transitioning to self-care at home.”

Collaborators include Dawn Prentice, Brock University Nursing Professor; Andrew Costa, Research Director, St. Joseph’s Health System, Centre for Integrated Care; Aaron Jones, Assistant Professor, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University; and Registered Nurse and McMaster doctoral student Fabrice Mowbray.

“The demographics of patients accessing health care and the technology available for them to do so with is changing rapidly,” says Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean Peter Tiidus. “Many of our graduates will be on the front line of these advances. Connie Schumacher’s receipt of this year’s AMS Fellow will help to ensure our students and community members will benefit from the most current research findings and transformative practical knowledge.”

AMS Healthcare strives to improve the health care of all Canadians by innovating education and practice, championing the history of medicine and health care, supporting leadership development and advancing research in the health humanities.

In recent years, the organization has provided funding for activities that address two key factors of the health-care system: Compassionate care; and artificial intelligence and digital health solutions.

“AMS wants to ensure that health care remains compassionate in an era of emerging and disruptive technologies.” says AMS CEO Gail Paech. “The work of these trailblazers will be critical in that pursuit.”

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