Wiser Technology Advice Blog

2017 Digitial Health Show

Sonya Weiser - Monday, April 03, 2017

Technology for Aged Care Providers

2017 Digital Health Show

I spent some time in Melbourne last week researching technical solutions which are out there for aged care and health providers at the Digital Health Show (co-located with the Connect Expo).

The tagline of the expo was: “The whole future delivery system for health and aged care is undergoing change due to technology and digital data, but how will public and private healthcare systems react?”

Over the two days of the expo I listened in on some talks and discussed technical solutions with a number of providers at their expo stalls.  The key themes I took away from this were:

  • There is an increasing reliance on mobile devices and apps, such as appointment systems for carers who provide aged care services in the homes of clients.
  • Innovative use of technology enables monitoring of aged care clients in their rooms and homes, without intrusive use of cameras.
  • Wearable technology creates more opportunities to manage aged care clients’ health, for examples collecting data from sensors in smart watches and using artificial intelligence to interpret the data.

The opportunities are endless…

The increasing use of mobile devices and cloud-based systems enables remote monitoring of clients and carers providing in home aged care, allowing our ageing population to stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

There are some great systems available for tracking and scheduling appointments for carers who visit clients in their homes. These can be as simple as coordinating appointments for a team of carers, to a full system with workflows that recommends the best routes for a day’s appointments, allows carers to take notes while out of the office, tracks expenses and generates invoices.

There are health care systems available which will allow aged care providers and families of the elderly to remotely monitor the health and safety of people in their own homes. These systems can provide immediate feedback and reminders to the elderly, for example telling them when to expect the arrival of a carer or reminding them to take medication.

Monitoring systems can collect data from devices installed in rooms and homes, without using intrusive cameras. Using artificial intelligence, these monitoring systems gain an understanding of usual patterns of movement, then alert care providers and families when something seems to be wrong. For example, if someone has moved from a bedroom into the bathroom and not returned for a very long time, they may have had a fall, so an alert will be generated.

Smart devices such as Fitbits and Apple watches have amazing technology embedded in them that can capture data on heart rate and movement, which over time can be used to analyse activity patterns and encourage wellbeing through exercise. Monitoring movement can also be used to analyse sleep patterns, and trigger alerts for carers if these change significantly.

There are many other innovative ways of using mobile technology for general health care, such as an app that interprets the sound of a patients cough to diagnose the most likely disease or illness which is causing the cough.

And technological infrastructure that’s already in place can potentially be re-purposed. If televisions provided in rooms are internet-enabled, these can be used to create a wi-fi hot spot in each room. As each television has a unique identifying address, the hot-spots can be used as a quick way for care notes taken on mobile devices to be linked to patient records. And wireless monitors in rooms can use the wi-fi hot spots to transmit movement data, allowing new technology to be post-fitted in rooms without the need for expensive re-wiring and cabling.

But there are risks and dependencies to consider…

All opportunities for innovation come with risks and dependencies that must be considered before diving into change.

How will your workforce feel about the changes? Will they resist adoption of new technology? For example, if your workforce of carers that visit people in their homes is mostly from an older, less tech-savvy generation, how accepting will they be of using a tablet or phone to coordinate visits and take care notes?

Do you expect your workforce to use their own mobile devices? How will you handle the policies around who pays for data, what happens if a phone is lost or stolen?

Are you confident that client confidentiality will be protected and that you will comply with the Australian Privacy Act? You must ensure that the provider of the system you implement hosts data only within the Australian jurisdiction and that the security of data is guaranteed.

And are you sure that you will get a return on investment for the introduction of new technology and systems? Before committing to spend money with a technology provider you need a robust business case, with cost benefit analyses over multiple years that compare total cost of ownership to the potential for savings.

Wiser Connections is here to help!

One great way to introduce change whilst managing expectations is through business process mapping workshops, just one of the great consulting services we offer. We facilitate sessions with a range of stakeholders, helping everyone come to grips with change by thinking through current processes and generating ideas for improvements through introduction of technology.

Want to know more? To book an initial no obligation meeting with me, drop us a line today.

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