Home Sweet Home: Eldercare and the Wireless Revolution
Byline article by Jamie Dalzell
Telemedicine | Telehealth | Connected Health — Technology’s role in modern medicine goes by many names, and has seen massive growth since Modern Health Talk last examined it in detail. Not only are emerging technologies like wireless charging and wearable devices changing the medical landscape, but the increasing uptake by doctors and patients alike is driving growth: recent surveys show some 64% of consumers are ready for Telehealth.
With this increased adoption? The aged-care sector, in particular, is changing. And changing fast. All at once this new technology is providing a better quality of life for seniors, as well as a greater peace of mind for their friends, family and caregivers. But how, exactly? And to what end?
Self-Empowerment With Wireless Power
Wireless charging and power is changing the way devices are installed, managed and maintained. It’s just one of a number of emerging wireless technologies that have been discussed over the years, and it’s finally starting to take hold. It isn’t difficult to imagine a future where the days of battery swaps and external power sources are numbered.
With the way this technology works, resonant wireless chargers could be installed anywhere, whether this be a patient’s favourite chair, an item of clothing, or even their bed. This would allow the charging of internal medical devices such as pacemaker batteries, or even eliminate the risks of infection inherent to external power sources that run these devices.
Not only does this decrease the risks that accompany follow-up procedures, but it increases patient freedom, allowing them to remain in their home that much longer.
Home Is Where The Heart Monitoring Is
Wireless power isn’t the only technology supporting the transformation of in-home care. The smart-home market is continuing to spur its growth, and sooner than later our homes will play a bigger role in the health of those who live within them, changing the way we view the very idea of aging itself.
The upheaval involved in any patient’s life when dealing with a chronic illness, a short-term affliction, or even old age can be far-reaching. The inevitable move to an aged care or specialized facility is something many patients dread, but these advances are helping seniors retain their independence in their own homes instead, resulting in better outcomes in the long-term.
Remote patient monitoring is leading the way, with companies like Intel and GE teaming up to launch Health Harmony in Kingsley Manor in LA and the Claremont Manor in Claremont as testbeds for this new technology.
They aren’t the only duo to invest here, with Independa joining forces with LG to bring their Angela suite to LG’s TVs. Angela can interface with blood pressure monitoring devices, scales, and glucometers; serves as a door sensor and emergency alert system; and offers video chat, as well as appointment and medication reminders. While a seemingly complex all-in-one solution, it’s simply operated by the elderly through their televisions and a basic remote.
This revolutionary solution is finding its way into hospitals and eldercare facilities, providing more efficient methods to monitor patients as well as letting family and friends video call at any time. And with set top boxes now being produced that turn any HDMI TV into an Angela-enabled device? Its availability is becoming commonplace.
Elsewhere? Speakset offers an elderly-friendly alternative to Skype to help alleviate the isolation that often accompanies old age. Vida’s HealthCoach and Perfect Serve’s Synchrony are aiding in monitoring. All the while other companies are producing bracelets, pendants and sensors that are wirelessly connecting patients with medical professionals, caregivers and family members alike.
Fall monitoring devices may be the most well-known, but they aren’t the only devices on the block. Devices now exist that monitor everything from vital signs to whether the gas stove is switched off. And if something is wrong? Those closest to them are informed immediately, providing long-term peace of mind.
[EDITOR: Those who follow Modern Health Talk know that I’m partial to the Apple iPhone and iPad for their ease of use and accessibility features.]
Modern Medicine Is Upwardly Mobile
Personal responsibility in medicine has come a long way since the days of Dr. Google and the craze of self-diagnosis. Nowadays technology isn’t misleading patients so much as empowering them to take responsibility in managing their health. It’s also giving medical professionals new ways to interact with, and monitor, their patients.
Ocado’s new App allows users to manage and order their groceries, removing the reliance on outside support to provide those everyday necessities that are so vital in allowing senior citizens to remain in their own homes.
This follows on from Apple’s recent ResearchKit and HealthKit announcement, accompanying its Health app. Allowing patients and doctors alike to monitor vital signs and other statistics. It’s yet another sign that the future of medicine, and aged-care, may very well be in our pockets.
Now more than ever, the medical world is a connected, informed and informative place for patients and doctors alike. With technology continuing to advance, people are finding new ways it can aid in the care of our most vulnerable citizens. And while those behind these astounding advances are yet to invent an elixir of eternal life, this new technology is providing a better quality of life, and peace of mind, for all involved now and into the future.
About the Author
Jamie Dalzell is a freelance writer with a fascination turn obsession with emerging technologies. Powered by nothing but coffee, he devotes his time to keeping pace with the rapidly, ever-changing changing face of technology. With a background in web and print media, he enjoys sharing this obsession with readers. Exploring the exciting opportunities technology is presenting for some of our most vital industries including health, medicine and education.”