Technology and Aging: A Match Made in Cyberspace

I don’t usually do a lot of gushing in this blog (unless, of course, I’m talking about my kids). But I’ve spent the past 3 three days in Washington, DC at the mHealth Summit learning a ton about how mobile technology is being used in healthcare, and I was amazed by something new (usually more than one something) every day.

One of the most interesting challenges for medical providers is how to ensure “adherence”–how can you get patients to fill their prescriptions and take their medication, do their physical therapy, check in with their provider,  and so on. As you can imagine, with certain conditions, not adhering to the provider’s instructions can have some serious and possibly deadly consequences. So the goal of all this stuff is to increase patients’ access to information, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs.

There is some absolutely amazing stuff here. On the most basic level, there are apps that remind people when to take their medication or to encourage them to get up and get some exercise. And of course there are quite a few variations on the pedometer that monitor exercise time, intensity, pulse, breathing, and so on. There are also apps that allow doctors to remotely monitor their patients and send text messages with tips and advice (especially young mothers), and others that keep patients in contact with their providers. There are apps for seniors with mild Alzheimer’s and shut-ins to keep them mentally engaged. There are apps that tell people with chronic conditions which restaurants have food that is okay for them to eat. And some of my favorites are the ones for kids and teens that connect them with a social network of others their age who have the same medical issues. Kids with chronic conditions like diabetes don’t pay as much attention to their providers or their parents who tell them they need to take their medication. But they will listen to other diabetic kids.

My main focus, though, was on technology and aging. Pfizer invited me to host a series of short on-camera interviews to talk about the types of technology that exist and how they’re being used across the lifespan (“aging” doesn’t necessarily mean “senior citizens”–we’re all aging, right?). And while Pfizer sponsored my trip, my opinions are 100% my own.

Between the keynotes, the panel discussions, the exhibitors, and the interviews I did, I learned a ton. The videos will be going up on Pfizer’s YouTube channel and will also appear on getold.com within the next week or so. Stay tuned…

In the meantime,you’ll definitely want to read their new white paper: “Using Mobile Technologies to Advance Healthy Aging” or go to: http://www.mhealthalliance.org/images/content/mhealth-and-aging-report.pdf

 

Whatcha think?