The next generation of seniors will have seen technology rise to become a dominant force in the course of their lifetimes. By the time they enter senior residences, they will expect these same technologies to assist in their comfort and care.
These older adults will be ready for technology, but will technology be ready for them? Seniors will have set a high bar. The next generation of seniors will look to telehealth to enhance care, records-sharing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their providers, and mobile applications to enhance their quality of life and ability to take charge of their own care.
There are signs that, on all these fronts, technology is rising to meet the challenge.
Telehealth has been steadily on the rise in recent years, with a range of tools including online medical consultations and video collaboration among providers. Caregivers are using these tools to deliver a variety of health-related services and information.
The results already are visible. Take the single example of patient monitoring via technology. According to one report from medical market research publisher Kaloroma Information, U.S. spending in this arena could top $8.7 billion by 2017.
Live video already is connecting seniors to providers, especially in cases where the senior may have limited mobility. Patients can talk to doctors or their assistants without having to travel, making it easier to access care and simplifying logistics for the housing provider as well.
Electronic health records.
Electronic health records likewise will help to meet seniors’ expectation of technological excellence in the realm of medical management, while helping housing providers run more efficient operations. Take for instance the experience of Kaiser Permanente dermatologists in San Diego: By sharing images with physicians via secure server, they were able to handle 800 cases per month, 50 percent more than if they relied on face-to-face visits.
Such experiences may set a model for senior housing. By sharing records with practitioners, senior housing staff can play a more active role in resident care, while at the same time finding new efficiencies as better information leads to more productive staff time.
Seniors are coming to view EHR as the cornerstone of what is now known as coordinated care: The idea that physicians, hospitals and other providers who share records can be more proficient in care delivery. This rapidly-evolving technology will be an expectation among the coming generation of seniors, who will fully expect that their doctors can share a global view of their various diagnoses and treatments.
The rise of mobile technologies has generated two simultaneous expectations among the upcoming generation of seniors. They believe in a self-service world (the internet has cut out the intermediary from so many transactions) and they believe in the ability of mobile devices to do practically anything.
In healthcare mobile self-care, could mean apps that track blood pressure trends, manage pill schedules, deliver reliable medical information and stay socially engaged. The more things seniors can do on their own, the more efficient and effective senior housing staff will be.
Will healthcare technology be ready to address the next generation of seniors? There’s every indication that it is headed that way. Mobile apps grow in sophistication. Collaboration becomes more common Telehealth becomes more versatile. The rapid rise of these and other tools will help ensure that when the next generation of seniors begins to seek out higher level of care, technology will be there to meet them.