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New technology attends to seniors' health, quality of life

Nancy Dahlberg, Miami Herald on

Published in Health & Fitness

Changes in activity and behavior patterns show up well before the underlying issues manifest into medical conditions, said Movva, who has been an innovator in healthcare technology for 23 years. He wanted a system to observe his parents continuously but privately, so he could be alerted to changes early enough to intervene. After finding the existing technologies inadequate, he set out to develop CarePredict in 2013.

The idea is to monitor daily activities like eating, drinking, walking, bathing, cooking, sleeping, Movva said. "We couple that with contextual cues to surface insights like self-neglect, for example, due to depression." The data can also help predict falls or suggest malnutrition, dehydration or infections before the senior or another person reports them.

Angel, an artificial intelligence- and voice-powered virtual nurse assistant, can play a similar role. She reaches out via low tech but clinically intelligent phone conversations, said Wolf Shlagman, founder and CEO of Care Angel.

"You look at the aging market and 90 percent or so choose to age at home ... managing themselves the best they can," he said. "Angel is meant to be an assistant that will help family caregivers by being able to simply call mom just as a nurse would, asking a series of questions."

Angel asks a series of questions such as "how did you sleep last night?" "did you take your medication today?" and "what was your glucose reading today?" If it detects cause for concern, Care Angel alerts caregivers via app, text message or phone. "Our mission is to help millions of people take better care of their families for a fraction of the cost of anything else out there," Shlagman said.

A basic version Care Angel is available free for AARP members and through other partners such as health insurers. A premium version will be available next year for about $9.95 a month.

In a recently finalized study with a Humana Medicare Advantage population, Care Angel received high marks from recipients and also had a substantial effect on clinical and financial outcomes. Results showed engagement of about 83 percent, a reduction of 63 percent in hospital readmissions and $496,000 in savings, Shlagman said.

 

MobileHelp, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Boca Raton, took the "I've fallen and I can't get up" personal emergency response system idea pioneered by Life Alert and turbocharged it. Help can be summoned at the touch of a button worn around the neck or on the wrist; unlike the first-generation systems designed for use only in the home, MobileHelp's products can be used on the go since they don't require landline phone connections. The device also detects falls so help can be summoned without a button being pressed. Its app also provides verbal medication notifications and a tracker that monitors activity levels for reports that go to caregivers.

SpeechMED is designed to demystify medical instructions. It was started by Susan Perry after her mother-in-law died because she could not understand post-surgery instructions given by the hospital. The application operates in 16 languages, offering patients and their caregivers the instructions in the spoken word and in text in the language they understand. There's an accompanying caregiver app, too.

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