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High Tech = High Touch

The advent of new technologies can transform the experience of aging and how to manage the health care of older adults.

New Wearables

LifeWatch (lifewatch.com) offers a portable EKG machine that allows patients to self-monitor when they are experiencing heart palpitations or feeling faint. Some machines also transmit the results to a digital health file to become part of the patient’s medical record. New wearable technology like the Metria IH1 (metriaih1.com) allows patients to adhere a waterproof device to the arm to record daily activity levels, sleep, and even skin sweat for up to seven days. It can also be configured to detect falls. Available in the next two years, the next iteration of the IH1 will measure breathing and heart rates and perform an EKG. 

Weight and heart health can be monitored with devices from Qardio (getqardio.com). The new QardioBase is a wireless smart scale and body analyzer that allows the wearer to follow his or her weight trends sans numbers. The QardioCore, a wearable electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor, detects cardiac conditions all day long and syncs with a smartphone. And the attractively designed QardioArm (below) is a portable blood pressure device that is easy to use and also syncs with portable technology wirelessly. The device can even send results directly to a physican, geriatrician, or a caregiver.

Virtual Care

Is getting to the doctor’s office a problem? Massachusetts General Hospital is piloting a program in which patients can make some doctor visits via Skype. These “virtual visits” have been very successful, according to Ardeshir Hashmi, MD: “It is like a phone call, but with more face-to-face interaction,” he says. “We do not do this for patients who need a physical exam, but it is great for talking about blood pressure or diabetes, or they can show me a skin lesion: things that come up commonly but do require close follow-up.” 

Heart & Soul 

Biomedical Systems (biomedsys.com) offers cardiac monitoring services for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a patient reporting system in which people can answer a set of questions each day about how they feel and whether they have taken their medications. At Jewish Home Lifecare, Patricia Mulvey’s clients can use dispensers that sound an alarm when it is time to take a pill, which is released when the client hits a button. “And if they do not hit the button, the machine sends us a message,” Mulvey adds. “They love it, because they never have to wonder if they have taken their pills.” 

Cam do

The Withings (withings.com) home camera has one-way HD video so adult children can access it from a smartphone or computer to see whether mom or dad turned off the oven or need help with cleaning. It also has two-way audio for communication. A wide-angle lens delivers live and recorded images to a smartphone and allows screen navigation by panning, tilting, and zooming in or out with the fingertips. Users can customize what to capture.