Technology Innovation in focus: Aging in Place Technology: Remote Patient Monitoring and Geriatric Smart Homes.
One of the biggest mega trends impacting the world today is population aging, and by 2030 the average life expectancy is expected to rise to 110. As the number of senior people rises in many economies of the world, the need for long-term care and aging-in-place services will increase.
Here are some interesting models that are arising to meet the needs of this population. Many of these models are experiments, but they are proving to be highly successful in providing care, reducing cost and improving healthcare quality for this silver community.
Smart home with integrated e-health and assisted living technology is an example of an IoT application in Gerontechnology (combining gerontology and technology) that can potentially play a pivotal role in revolutionizing the healthcare system for the elderly. This technology will allow the elderly to stay in their comfortable home environments instead of expensive and limited healthcare facilities.
A Deeper dive:
The elderly may require frequent, immediate medical intervention, which may otherwise result into fatal consequences or hospitalization. Such emergency situations can be avoided by focusing on preventive care, monitoring the physiological parameters and activities of the elderly in a continuous fashion
The foundation of care, particularly in geriatrics, lies within patient interactions and the questions every caregiver asks, such as, How did you sleep? How’s your appetite? Are you getting enough exercise?
Home health devices, incorporate environmental and wearable medical sensors, actuators, which can enable continuous and remote monitoring through software applications. These applications shall collect answers to the above mentioned questions and use it to display reports and analytics for the practitioners and care takers to review and act upon.
Multiple sensors can be placed over clothes or directly on the body, or implanted in tissue, which can facilitate measurement of blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, EEG, ECG and respiration rate thereby enabling un-obtrusive continuous health monitoring through software applications.
Telehealth technologies can be used to support adherence to treatment regimens, facilitate self-care, and provide patient education. Cameras and sensors can be used to track patient movements and behaviour in the home. Monitors can collect and transmit a variety of data to health care providers at a distance, eliminating the need to visit a clinic or to call in. below are few devices that are catching on.
- Vital Parameter Measuring Equipment- equipment used to collect data in the home environment and transmit the data to a remote monitoring site.
- Medication administration system- Devices used to remind and alert patients at home about medication
- ADLs monitoring- (**ADLs- Activities of daily life, such as sleep pattern, toileting, etc.) ADL monitoring sensors are able to objectively quantify patient’s physical activities and send alerts in case of any deviation from the routine
- M-health apps- for patient education material, reports and reminder/ alert systems
- Motion sensors to notify the care givers about potential patient falls
- Treatment Equipment- Applications that monitor compliance of medical therapy and provide feedback to patients and the therapist using data gathered via wearable sensors
- Parameters such as duration of activity/rest time periods, general activity level and circadian rhythms are all obtained by recording heart rate, respiration rate, posture, behaviour and activity data using sensors and devices.
The data collected from such devices when analysed can help the physicians detect early signs of health conditions that will otherwise be detected only after major symptoms surface.
Healthcare Market readiness:
The healthcare IoT market is currently in a state of stagnation primarily due to the high price of components, limited demands, as well as consumers’ reluctance to adopt currently available complex systems, which require multiple networking devices and software applications to be implemented.
However, with the continuous advancement of high-speed computing and secured communication technologies coupled with low-power and low-cost sensors and actuators, it is expected that the healthcare IoT market will flourish dramatically in the coming years.
The shift in focus from institutional care to preventive care mainly due to the increasing costs of hospitalization combined with a decrease in the number of health care professionals is also leading to the popularization of home health technology.
The home Nursing and diagnostic market has already tapped the convenience of the home health devices that can record and send patient data to the physicians screen at real time.
As the world is rapidly moving towards the new era of the IoT with smart watches that can display our heart rate on the click of a button, a fully functional smart home for the geriatric population is closer to reality than ever before.
The Best Bet
Asia pacific, has a huge market for home health technology in the coming years. Below are a few factors attributing to the region’s accelerating demand for homecare technology.
- Many Asian countries have a culture of caring for the elderly in their own or relative’s homes (preference towards in-home care over institutional care)
- Shortage of qualified health professionals (homecare doctor)
- Growing geriatric population with long term medical conditions
- Growing disposable income
- Rising awareness regarding these healthcare facilities
Home care products integrated with health application will find an especially large market in Asia.