Contributed: The Smart Care of the Future

Seniors want to age in place. How do homes need to adapt?
By Dr. Liz Kwo and Timothy Lee
02:27 pm
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(Photo credit: Alistair Berg/Getty Images) 

When one hears "smart devices," one may expect only tech-savvy millennials to be the pioneers in embracing the technology. But they may not be the only group.

As life span increases, seniors are often more affected by frailty and need assistance in managing their health conditions from home. Likewise, there is a growing concern amongst healthcare professionals around how to offer holistic and individualized care for those with serious or disabling conditions remotely.

Recently, home health devices have sparked a renewed sense of excitement to accelerate the next generation of care across age groups. They have offered seamless personalized experiences and consumer-centered care, while enabling groups to stay in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

So how can healthcare leaders better leverage home-health solutions to deliver innovative products that will not only enhance care delivery experience, but also improve health?  

Make them user-friendly

A consumer’s needs must be kept in mind when building devices that are not only helpful, but are designed to be useful.

One major approach is equipping consumer electronics with home-care monitoring functions: Smartwatches or wearables that can measure ECGs, for example, are already incorporated into many lives.

Two examples of the ways we are investigating the impact of devices/wearables on health conditions include our partnerships with Apple and Sibel. These initiatives aim to uncover how different wearables and sensors can aid clinical outcomes and better manage an individual’s well-being. [Editor's note: authors Kwo and Lee are employees of Anthem which was involved with these two partnerships.] 

Design solutions that blend into current routines

Medical devices that seamlessly integrate into one’s routine at home, while simultaneously collecting and securely transmitting user health data to medical professionals, will likely be preferred. Smart mattresses are one example, where a device can collect data regarding the respiration, the quality of sleep and heart rate without any effort from users, while generating actionable insights for providers to manage individuals.

Building solutions that require minimal behavioral shifts at home while maximizing adoption can be powerful, especially for aging populations. For instance, several reports have shown that aging adults prefer to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Imagine how telehealth and home health devices can address these health issues.

Put the right people on the right tasks

Physicians are already over-burdened with many daily clinical and administrative tasks. Having them now monitor health data and insights received from various home care devices is an expensive process with minimal benefits due to a lack of follow-up.

The key is not to place all of the responsibility on physicians. Instead, carve-out specific responsibilities and tasks that leverage data scientists and allied health professionals to maximize care-delivery impact and time spent. 

In one digital program, pharmacists and wellness coaches remotely monitored the blood pressure of 6,000 high risk patients and followed them up via text and e-mail, which resulted in many achieving their blood pressure targets.

Moving to the smart care of the future   

Though securely sharing personal data and ensuring patient privacy will still need to be a top priority in order to address any concerns from the consumer, home health devices show promise for creating integrated care models that wrap high-touch support and high-tech capabilities around members within the comfort and safety of their homes during a pandemic, as well as after.  

Healthcare leaders who can effectively leverage the factors mentioned above into their long-term strategies will not only deliver innovative products and immersive experiences. They will also successfully improve health outcomes and satisfaction.


About the authors

Timothy Lee is a Senior Program Manager at Anthem and received his MPH in Healthcare Policy & Management from Emory University.

 

 

Dr. Liz Kwo is currently the Deputy Chief Clinical Officer at Anthem and a faculty lecturer at Harvard Medical School, who previously cofounded and served as CEO of telemedicine second-opinion company InfiniteMD. She received an MD from Harvard Medical School, an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

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