The White House report notes living independently “requires performance of a range of activities,” adding that “an evolving suite of technologies will be required to maximize independence throughout the continuum of care.” Online platforms and devices are paramount to enhancing such efforts.
Improving Care Access for Seniors Is Critical
Transportation and healthcare access seemingly go hand in hand because as the report points out, physical and cognitive abilities often dictate transportation, which can limit healthcare. The report’s authors note with regard to transportation, current technologies that can help older adults with navigation, particularly in real time, aren’t necessarily designed to meet the needs of older adults.
For instance, on wayfinding and navigation systems, the authors write, “While some of these systems were developed specifically for people with visual disabilities, the technology could be refined to meet the needs of the older adult population — in particular those with cognitive deficits.”
I agree, but also believe improving access to healthcare at home via technology for older adults is just as important. Telehealth, which gets its own section in the report, is one way to achieve that goal.
The authors note telehealth technology can improve transitions between care settings for older adults, as well as encourage self-management — particularly for individuals with chronic conditions. “Telehealth … provides new ways for patients to participate in their own healthcare by helping them record, measure, monitor and manage their conditions, and remotely share information, communicate and collaborate with providers,” the report says.
At the Aging in America Conference, representatives from the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services in New York, as well as Pace University and elsewhere, discussed the Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors (TIPS), a remote monitoring program that helps older adults leverage telehealth technologies to keep track of and share vital signs and more with clinicians. They shared that the program has helped to reduce hospital admissions, as well as emergency department admissions and under-30-day readmissions.
For its part, the government is already on the right track. On April 5, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized a rule that better enables Medicare Advantage plans to provide seniors with telehealth services starting next year.