Tech savvy seniors are finding a better connection with medical professionals and clinicians through the use of mHealth applications. These seniors, and sometimes their families, are able to ask questions, follow up with concerns, and even learn more about preventative health recommendations with the touch, swipe, or click on their smart phones. Senior living communities are noticing this turn toward mHealth opportunities and are racing to set up efficient networks and private platforms that can optimize the experience.
But once the network is set up and ready to go, how can senior care communities encourage all seniors in the care community to take advantage of mHealth? With a bit of encouragement and strategic staff recruitment, seniors can be given the best chance to experiment with this new way to communicate with their doctors.
Hire Dedicated Staff
Before any mHealth, or other technology, initiative can really take hold in the senior care community, there needs to be a dedicated staff person to drive the community forward. This IT person should not only be available to assist with IT issues that staff may have, but should also have extensive experience working with seniors directly. The IT support person should be comfortable leading group classes for seniors and well versed in individual interactions with seniors and technology. This staff person is integral part of implementing any new technology and should be brought on board intentionally.
Get Hands On
Most people, of any age, learn best through doing. Set up mHealth presentations for small groups of residents at a time, complete with tablets or smart phones for each participant, so that the residents can click and swipe along with the instructor.
Offer Tiered Courses
Residents will come to mHealth learning classes with varying levels of internet and app experience. To help everyone feel comfortable and confident, small group courses should be offered to all sets of experience. From beginners to experts, instructors should offer mHealth classes that will challenge, but not overwhelm, students.
Offer Office Hours
Once there is a staff member onsite for IT and mHealth support, that staff member should have regular office “drop in” hours. During these drop in hours, the staff person is available to assist residents who stop by with specific questions. This one-on-one time will not only help build socialization and trust with the community staff, but will also give the resident a chance to ask questions they have, while getting individualized attention.
Get the Family Involved
Family members should have the opportunity to try out mHealth applications within the senior care community. This educational opportunity could be an excellent focal point for a family night a few times per quarter.
Get Referral Professionals Involved
Before introducing mHealth applications to the community’s culture, it is wise for the executive and clinical team to assure that local doctors and other clinicians are up and running on mHealth apps themselves.
mHealth opportunities are slowly – but surely – entering the senior care community industry. Don’t get left behind in the movement by not attempting to integrate these apps in your facility. What barriers do you currently have for implementing mHealth education courses for your residents?