Senior Care Technology Round-Up: ALFA’s New App, Senior Housing Search Engine & More

Tech companies continue to weigh in on the senior care space with a new batch of gadgets, gizmos and mobile apps in this week’s technology round-up. 

Mobile applications accounted for most of the technologies this week with softwares for industry news, community living search engines, fall prevention and medication management. 

Other tech includes virtual gaming potentially making a shift toward senior care, as well as systems that records how much Medicare and Medicaid pays health care providers. Read on: 


1. ALFA Launches Mobile App for Senior Living Resources

The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) recently launched a mobile app on March 25 to extend the reach of Senior Living Executive magazine to mobile device users. 

“Executives serving in the senior living business, whether in the 24 x 7 operation of a community for seniors or in regional or company management, have little down time,” said Richard P. Grimes, president and CEO of ALFA. “Our new tools extend the reach of valuable news, information and best practices right to the mobile devices of these busy professionals.”


ALFA’s new mobile services, according to Grimes, offer “always available” resources, including ALFA’s print and online magazine, weekly e-newsletter, and ALFA Update.

“This is just one more example of how ALFA continues to innovate to better serve the collective needs of senior living executives,” said Grimes.

Additionally, the ALFA web site is also now available in an easy to use mobile version.

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2. SeniorsGuideOnline Goes Mobile-Friendly for Senior Community Searches is optimized for mobile browsing that provides a search engine for a variety of senior living communities. 

After noticing a 300% increase in visits from mobile devices, the Richmond, Virginia-based company decided to go “mobile friendly,” by offering its services to include smartphones, tablets and e-readers. 

“As more adults adopt mobile technologies each year, we will continue to see a rise in searches for housing, home care and services from these devices,” says Katharine Ross, vice president of sales and marketing for Seniors Guide.

Smartphones are heavily penetrating the mobile phone landscape, according to a January 2013 report by eMarketer. For seniors ages 65 and older, the report found that 16% of cell phone users owned a smartphone device.

Additionally, smartphone numbers ranked higher for boomers, who are also researching aging options online for themselves and their senior parents. Smartphone ownership for baby boomers ages 47-56 was 39%, while ages 57-67 was 28% in the report. 

3. Going Electronic Nets Healthcare Providers $12 Billion in 2012

Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payments were estimated at $12.3 billion paid to a total of 219,000 physicians and hospitals through February, reports Health Care Finance News

“In February, 27,500 Medicare physicians received $425 million; 5,500 Medicaid clinicians and eligible professionals, $100 million; and 90 hospitals in either program, $200 million, for a total of $725 million to 33,090 providers.

“We expect that February number will continue to grow as we process them through the month. We’re already seeing some providers come in for 2013,” he added.

“Since the program’s inception through February, CMS has paid 140,000 Medicare physicians, 75,500 Medicaid clinicians and 3,757 hospitals, according to latest estimates.

“The number of eligible providers registered for the EHR incentive program was just shy of 85 percent of hospitals, and 73.2 percent of hospitals have been paid as of January.”

Read the Health Care Finance News article.

4. Microsoft Kinect for Windows… And Grandmas?

Microsoft Kinect might not only be an interactive gaming experience for children and Xbox-playing college students for long.

The gesture-technology that allows gamers to physically interact with the virtual world is opening the door to create new software—one that can benefit seniors, according to a Wall Street Journal article

“In addition to an infrared camera and projector, the Kinect features a microchip that performs “skeletal tracking,” or following movement without using a camera lens.

“Skeletal tracking could one day lead to digital signs that can recognize passersby, or virtual dressing rooms where shoppers can “try on” new shirts without undressing.

“It could also lead to new health-care-related consumer products during a time of growing demand for devices that can monitor the health of seniors.

“Boston-based Atlas5D Inc., a graduate of Microsoft’s Seattle program that is currently on the hunt for venture funding, is working on a device that can scan a room for people and objects and sense subtle patterns of movement.

“CEO Zeb Kimmel believes his product, which uses a radar and imaging technology, will be able to identify changes in posture or gait so subtle that it will be able to predict problems, like falls, before they happen, he said. Small strokes, osteoarthritis and pneumonia, for example, are all detectable through examination of a person’s movements, and are all common ailments among the elderly that can lead to falls, he said.”

Read the Wall Street Journal article.

5. Mobile Exercise App Teaches Seniors How to Improve Balance, Prevent Falls

HoliVision has launched the iStand Fall Prevention Exercise Program, the first mobile application for a simple exercise routine to help millions of seniors at risk of life-threatening falls every year. 

Compatible on computers or tablets, the iStand technology incorporates two highly-recommended programs that aim to improve balance, Tai Chi and the Otago Exercise Program, designed by specialists in New Zealand. 

Lesson areas span simple activities and movements designed to help seniors improve balance, strength and awareness in preventing falls.

Don’t own a smartphone, computer or tablet? No problem, as the iStand program is also available on DVD. 

Learn more about this fall-preventing mobile app.

6. Smartphone App Software Identifies Prescription Meds, Provides Alerts

“The MedSnap ID system consists of an optical pill recognition app that is compatible with an IPhone 4s or iPhone 5. In a typical scenario, a patient or caregiver brings from home all the medications the patient believes he or she takes. A health care provider pours a representative sampling of pills onto the tray, then holds the phone level above them and hits the Snap button on the iPhone screen.

In a few seconds the system identifies and displays the names and strength of each drug (including some widely used over-the-counter drugs). It alerts for possible drug–drug interactions, drug–diagnosis interactions and allergy risks based on the patient’s medical history, if that information is known.”

To learn more about MedSnap ID, read the article from Pharmacy Practice News.

7. Wireless Call System for Small to Mid-Size Facilities

Systems Technologies has expanded its technological offerings for wireless nurse call and emergency call systems with its newest product, MicroVision 200Z®

This wireless call system supports up to 48 emergency call stations, making it ideal for small and mid-sized clinics and assisted living homes. 

MicroVision 200Z® transmitters range from pendant-style personal transmitters to emergency pull stations, bed stations with call cords, exit alarms, among others. 

The MicroVision 200Z® can be plugged into an available electrical outlet and be mounted in an exam room to send a signal that a nurse or doctor is needed. Small, wireless consoles also provide an audible tone and visually display the room number or name needing assistance. 

The device comes with a variety of transmitter options ideal for various medical or security needs, such as wireless pendant or wrist transmitters for active patients, allowing them to call for assistance from anywhere in the facility.

Written by Jason Oliva

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