My name is Sofia Widén. I am the new coordinator of this blog. I joined ACCESS Health International earlier this month as a program manager. I am studying integrated elder care and healthcare. I will identify global examples of good practice in integrated elder care, together with other members of the ACCESS Health team working on elder and long term care. Some of the ACCESS Health team members will be blogging with me here. We have projects in countries as diverse as India, mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sweden. We will tell you about our work on this blog.
Right now, I am based in Sweden, and I plan on working in the United States next year. I graduated from the University of Edinburgh in June 2014, where I studied economics, politics, and languages. In my role at ACCESS Health, I will be blogging about my research, about articles that I read, and about topics such as elder care and healthcare. From time to time, I will write about related topics. I love writing and I love reading. I will tell you about inspiring people that I meet. I will tell you about the exiting things that I learn through my research. Please send me comments and interact with me. Please follow me on Twitter @SofiaWiden, and check out our website www.accessh.org.
I wish you all the best and I hope that you will enjoy our blog!
Ideas sometimes seem so simple and obviously great, so you ask yourself ”Why has nobody come up with that before?!”
I came across the innovative Speaking Exchange project, which is about lightening up the lives of elderly, while at the same time giving Brazilian students the opportunity to practice their English skills. Reports about this case seem to go viral on the web these very days (see links below).
I was so surprised and fascinated when I watched this clip about the Speaking Exchange:
The man shows the boy an old photo. “Is this your dad?” the boy asks. “No, It’s me and my wife when we were young”, he answers. “Oh you were good-looking when you were young”, the boy says – pause – “and you are still good-looking!”.
“I look like I’m only 25”, another man says. He and the boy a are laughing, “but I’m 88”. The two are having a nice conversation. In the end, they share a big, virtual hug.
The school uses its own digital tool for video chatting where conversations are recorded and uploaded privately for teachers to evaluate the talk language-wise.
But there is much more to this than just the language…
It’s fun and warms my heart to listen to their conversations about all the World and his brother.
Sensor Technology May Enable Successful Ageing-in-Place and, Concomitantly, Increase Value in The Process
As life expectancy and the proportion of people aged 65 and over increase, and integrated care and cost containment become a concern to many health organizations and policy-makers, technologies that utilize sensors to come up with new and innovative ways to support the elderly successfully age-in-place are increasingly becoming commonplace.
A flurry of new start-up health tech companies, mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships are entering the data analytics and sensor space to support seniors well-being. What once started as sensor networks in facilitated facilities and nursing homes are now moving into to every imaginable inanimate object in seniors private homes or apartments.
Caremerge has a database of patient data from diagnoses, medications and allergies, and Lively develops passive movement sensors that can be placed in various spots in an elderly person’s home (i.e. the refrigerator, a pillbox, keychain, etc). So the cloud will be able notify caregivers when meals are eaten, medications are taken, if anyone leaves the house. More importantly, the platform can also notify caregivers if any disruption from a daily routine occurs. Although the partnership was announced relatively recently, they are in the process of taking in a few initial customers to test out their platform.
This business model is not unique for the vital sign monitoring and emergency detection space. Other similar ventures include: beclose, healthsense, and GrandCareSystems, among others.
Sensors to monitor vital signs need not be limited to being placed in inanimate objects. Research is underway to examine how to impant miniature sensors that can continuously monitor and report on a person’s health status.
Sensors introduce a whole wealth of data on patient behaviours that can be used to coordinate and integrate the management of care. So its no surprise that this space is seeing a lot of investment growth from traditional investors, but also from a growing number of large hospital networks and non-health IT companies.
The increasing trend in sensors and smart technology suggests that being monitored-all-the-time may soon become the norm for the elderly as they age. It may even spread to the non-elderly after, as “Smart homes” may become standard.
The applications for sensors to enable successful ageing-in-place seem limitless!
With more than $7.4 billion for over 1,393 deals occurring in the Health IT space since 2010, according to Startup Health, it would not be far-fetched to expect more excitement and innovations in this area very soon.
Beautiful photos of elders. It’s rare that we see these. We spend a lot of time talking about ageing and elders, but we rarely highlight the beauty of years of laugh lines, eyes that have seen generations grow, and skin that has truly weathered the storms. Ageing is beautiful, and the photographer Danny Santos II depicted it when he photographed seniors for Project Silverline, an initiative by SingTel to put refurbished iPhones in the hands of seniors, to enhance their interactions, their health, and ease the sense of isolation many elders feel. To see the photos that Danny took of seniors in Singapore, click here.
Continuing our blog series, Modern Aging Ideas, this week we are featuring the entrepreneur Oscar Lundqvist who is developing a tool that allows relatives to elderly staying at nursing homes, to stay updated on activities and wellbeing of their beloved parents and grandparents. Please read about Oscar’s work experience at a nursing home which lead to his discovering of a need for innovation:
This fall I am a participant of the Modern Aging program that Access Health International is running. The program is full of lectures and workshops that educate and inspire us about the elderly care market, innovations and business training. They are doing their best to give us all the helpful tools you need if you want to succeed with a new idea on the elderly care market.
I first heard about the Modern Aging program on Carema Care’s webpage. Before that, I was choosing between two different future plans; either to work with elderly care or to be an entrepreneur. When I read about the Modern Aging application, the thought of combining the two future plans hit me for the first time.
My interest in elderly care began when I shortly after high school started working for the private care provider Carema Care. I worked there for three years with purchasing food for a nursing home. My plans for entrepreneurship were ignited as a student at Södertörns University. I am currently studying my last year in a three-year program in entrepreneurship, innovation and market.
The idea that I applied to the Modern Aging program with was formed during my time at the nursing home. I observed that there was a broad mix of relatives to the elderly in the home with varying visiting habits. Some relatives were there every day, others once a month and some visited only on rare occasions. But they all had something in common; the next of kin always wanted to know how their relative was feeling. When they were visiting they would ask the staff questions about the elderly’s health and about what kind of activities their relative had been enrolled in.
For full-time working relatives, it may not be feasible to visit the elderly every week, which prevents them from keeping up to date with the activity board posted by the care workers in the hallway and to have a good dialogue with the contact person. And in many cases, the relatives feel guilt about these scenarios. If the staff could update the relatives online on how the elderly is feeling, what kind of activities are going on and opening up for a dialogue with the staff directly through a smartphone app or by logging on to a webpage, many of these problems would be solved.
If the next of kin was updated all the time it would bring a feeling of security for them and it may also improve the communication between all involved parties. And if the staff were required to post information about the activities of the elderly, that would be an additional incentive for them to activate the elderly more. Based on my experience working at a nursing home, these are very important benefits that affect both the relatives and the elderly.
This present an easy solution to a great concern that many relatives are posed with and I would argue that this kind of technological tool should be standard for each and every elderly being cared for at a nursing home and their relatives.
Hearing the term health care innovation, most people associate it with new technologies like robotic caregivers, digital imaging or breakthroughs in chronic disease treatment. The decision-making process towards the use of any of those innovative choices is based on the physician’s knowledge and experience.
“Healthcare innovation can be defined as the introduction of a new concept, idea, service, process, or product aimed at improving treatment, diagnosis, education, outreach, prevention and research, and with the long term goals of improving quality, safety, outcomes, efficiency and costs” (Omachonu et al. 2010). Thus, process innovations focus on improving quality of care for patients and enhancing health providers’ internal capabilities. However, innovation is difficult – the health field has rich evidence-based innovations, but they disseminate slowly, if at all (Berwick 2003). Six areas have been identified in making or breaking innovation in healthcare (Herzlinger 2006):
One opportunity to introduce innovation in healthcare is the use of evidence-based information, which is highly relevant to that particular patient – especially at the point-of-care. But how can the use of this kind of information be facilitated?
One tool that I came across is Elsevier’s ClinicalKey (www.clinicalkey.com). It is a tool that physicians can use to access evidence to make informed decisions at the point-of-care and throughout the patient journey. The ClinicalKey reference system links clinicians, medical librarians, and researchers to an online platform, which contains content from medical journals, books, multimedia, MEDLINE abstracts and other sources. Did you come across any similar tools?
To me, fast access to high-quality research evidence to inform decision-making in clinical practice is absolutely important for innovating – improving – health. What do we need to solve this?
Maybe we need harder, better, faster, stronger tools as such, but what I wonder more about is the role of stakeholders as the leaders in these processes. How can leadership for evidence-informed decision-making in health be encouraged? How to cure resistance to change and innovation?
Berwick DM (2003). Disseminating innovations in healthcare. JAMA, 289(15):1969-1975
Herzlinger RE (2006). Why innovation in healthcare is so hard. http://hbr.org/web/extras/insight-center/health-care/why-innovation-in-health-care-is-so-hard
Omachonu VK, Einspruch NG (2010). Innovation in healthcare delivery systems – a conceptual framework. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 15(1):2.