Senior Care Technology Review: Gaming Improves Senior Cognition; HHS Hires Chief Tech Officer

Technology, both for senior care and in general, is increasingly being recognized for its ability to make healthcare more accessible and efficient. This is evidenced by a study suggesting the viability of mobile health technology, and the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services just hired its first Chief Technology Officer, who will impart his entrepreneurial wisdom and help the agency use its data for innovative ways to improve the healthcare system.

1. Study: The World is Ready for Mobile Healthcare

A study from The Boston Consulting Group and Telenor Group suggests that mobile health technology can not only catch on as a viable solution but can also lead to economic growth, reduce costs related to data collection, and allow doctors to reach twice as many rural patients, among other benefits.


2. SurePod: Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) Mobile Device for Senior Safety

SurePod recently released the third generation of its PERS device, the SurePod 250EA, featuring improved technology that includes a sensor which provides more accurate GPS signal locks. The device allows seniors to call for help with the push of a button, which connects to an operator who is able to pinpoint the individual’s location thanks to GPS technology. This particular model is mobile, enabling seniors to carry it around with them when they leave their homes to go to a doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store.

3. Study: WoW, Gaming Improves Seniors’ Cognitive Functioning


A new study by the North Carolina State University showed that seniors who played an online role-playing fantasy game “World of Warcraft” had boosted cognitive abilities compared to those who did not, reports CTV News. The researchers tested a group of seniors’ cognitive functioning levels before and after participating in the study, and those who played the game showed “statistically significant” improvements in their abilities. Other studies have also shown positive side effects in seniors after playing certain types of video games, and one of the NCS University study’s coauthors believes the video game industry has a “largely untapped audience” in seniors.

4. “Granny Cams” for Remote Monitoring

Remote-care telecare tools, including interactive services, motion detectors, or smart toilets, can be used to help extend the time elderly persons can remain in their homes, and to make sure they’re leading normal lives, says Telecare devices can be used to determine whether seniors are doing their everyday tasks like sorting mail or paying bills, or taking medication. The website recommends cameras for monitoring adults who might need caregiving, and cites them as a “cost efficient way for the elderly to lead normal lives with minimal help from caregivers,” as long as caregivers are properly trained to use telecare services and interpret results.

5. Business Week: HHS hires “Chief Technology Officer” to use data for a healthier America

The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), recently hired Todd Park as its first chief technology officer, reports Business Week. As “tech entrepreneur-in-residence,” Park is supposed to “lead projects that harness the power of data, technology, and innovation to improve the health of the American public” and help the agency figure out how to use its “vast stores of data to spur innovative ideas.”

“Technology is never a panacea, but it can be an enabler of significantly improved health care and health-care systems,” Park said in Business Week. “For example, there are key features of the Affordable Care Act that change how Medicare and Medicaid pay to reward keeping people healthy. Doctors will be funded and [provided incentives] to take actions that help avoid preventable complications, ER visits, and hospital admissions. Mobile technology and data analytics to help doctors identify care gaps, engage patients outside the medical office and at home through e-mails, follow-up through mobile apps, and to communicate with other doctors, are critical enablers for this kind of coordinated care. (Read the full article/interview here.)

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