AI And Its Potential Benefits For ABA

I want to be transparent…

I am excited to see what advances AI makes as a whole – everything from medical advances to how to get to the moon (faster). I know many fear the “what if’s” and I too appreciate and have anxiety and genuine concern about what could happen if the proper regulations aren’t rolled out and soon.

That being said, our world is changing and whether we embrace it or not, its impact is coming, and ABA is not to be excluded. As a long time ABA’er and business consultant, one of the greatest struggles ABA and special needs providers have is how to operate efficiently and maximize billable hours and minimize overhead costs. Payers have implemented more and more restrictions with respect to what is billable and not thereby increasing the strain on business owners to make ends meet. I tell my start-up clients to anticipate 25-35% overhead but have worked with many established agencies whose overhead is at 50% or more.

For many, thinking about overhead costs is frankly, overwhelming – you as the owner, your PMS, your Billers, the Scheduler(s), your Accountant/CFO, your recruiting engine and HR/payroll personnel, QuickBooks, and other systems. This doesn’t even include the perks that you offer your team to ensure you can recruit and retain talent – PTO, bonuses, non-reimbursed training, and ongoing professional development. This is far from an exhaustive list, but it sufficiently lays out a massive amount of work and related expense that is necessary to run an ABA company.

So, let’s play “What If?”

What if, your PMS system elevates to a level where intake, scheduling, rescheduling, reporting, billing and payroll is completely automated.

What if, the system can analyze the clinical data and suggest programmatic modifications by analyzing this patient’s data with similar patients from an aggregated data set.

What if, a robot of sorts can pick up, sanitize, and put the toys in their place rather than your behavior techs spending 10 min. pre and post each session doing this when they could be learning from their supervisor. Given that this is non-billable time anyway, wouldn’t it be better if Jane, your BT, is spending this time learning while your AI robot is cleaning up for the next session.

What if, session notes can be automatically comprised as the session data is being recorded – and maybe that data is being recorded via visual analysis by the system thereby freeing your RBTs and BCBAs to focus on service delivery and not the logistics of data collection. What if the system can analyze real time data and revamp the program so the tech knows how best to start the next session to achieve the most benefit from the time spent,

Parent participation – our goal is to enable parents to be their child’s therapist in the absence of an RBT or BCBA (be it not as a paid employee…). The possibilities for how AI can facilitate parent training are endless and far too much to cover here.

I am definitely a cautious believer with boundaries, but as someone who has worked with over 1,000 agencies in the past few years and analyzed why some aren’t profitable and in jeopardy of losing their business, I have to believe that efficiency gains can be made with AI advancements that are soon to come.

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