This chapter provides insight into the demographics of aging, and an overview of potential benefits and challenges of using technology to help older adults. It outlines four interconnected challenges of an aging population. With the expected increase in care needs that coincides with an aging population, the first challenge is the question of how to provide relevant high quality-care to older persons. Second, with fewer caregivers available in relation to the growing population in need, we can expect that the relative burden of care experienced by caregivers will increase. The third challenge is to increase the relative number of healthy and independent seniors by taking a more proactive approach with prevention and health maintenance strategies. The final challenge addressed concerns the development of health care systems and policy changes that are more inclusive of needed assistive technologies and medical devices.
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This chapter focuses on the concepts of personalized medicine in relationship to wearable technology. It begins by reviewing the technical foundations of wearable devices, including sensor technology, big data, and the Internet of things (IoT). Next, the chapter looks at the benefits, challenges, and limitations of wearables in health care. Finally, it presents specific case scenarios in which wearables have been, or could be, advantageous to an older population, applications in clinical research, the role of regulatory agencies, and the future direction of wearables in medicine. Wearable devices show great promise for aiding the development of personalized medicine, particularly home-based use case scenarios for the older adult. There are numerous requirements for creating successful wearable solutions including aesthetic design, mobility, connectivity, and data analysis. Obstacles and limitations are a reality, but technology companies, universities, and governments are working to surmount issues such as accuracy, security, and engineering.
Treating illness at home is a tradition that has recently been revitalized by a number of factors. Specifically, telecommunication tools, financial imperatives, quality initiatives, staffing constraints, and patient preference are among the leading drivers for this transition. Successful telehealth program outcomes depend on a number of issues, with knowledge, leadership, and management being paramount. Home telehealth programs hold the potential to improve patient outcomes with cost-effective, patient-centered care. Home telehealth programs offer an appealing cost-effective alternative or extension to acute, subacute, and long-term care centers, or nursing home facilities. Developing effective, cost-effective, value-based, patient-centered alternatives requires a redesign of many fundamental aspects of health care delivery. Home telehealth programs hold great promise in facilitating this critical paradigm shift in health care, and success depends on interrelated factors, which are well illustrated in the context of the Triple Aim. The Triple Aim is a framework developed for improved population health.
Health education technology has advanced from basic informational websites to fully immersive interactive systems which can now provide dynamic learning experiences, social interactivity, and realistic, automated scenarios that mimic clinical events with live patients. These improvements can be attributed to increased processing power of computing tools, proliferation of high-speed Internet connectivity, and innovative new tools such as virtual reality (VR) devices. This chapter explores why technology is needed in health education, reviews examples of different types of technology in use today, and examines how these tools may be used to support training of clinical professionals as well as educating patients. Health technology is constantly advancing and health care practitioners must be ready to adapt as new tools are created. We must ensure our professions are well represented during the development of these tools and utilize them throughout our education.
This chapter introduces the concept of a “relational agent”, a technological entity that can build social relationships. Such an agent can be represented in many forms, ranging from a voice originating from a “black box”, to a virtual animated nurse on a computer monitor, or even a robotic puppy. Relational agents hold the promise to help solve some of the fundamental challenges facing health care, such as limited human resources, to operationalize important follow-up care protocols and to provide the psychosocial support necessary to improve self-management, and reduce overall costs in certain complex patient populations. This chapter is organized into three main sections. First, it provides the context and general overview of the field. It then describes the different types of relational agents, and, finally, the chapter presents specific examples and scientific evidence for each category of relational agent.
This chapter provides a brief description about artificial intelligence (AI) and presents several areas where AI methods are being used to solve health problems of an aging population. It presents examples where these methods may be found as part of various technologies designed to help maintain independence, safety, and function. Then the chapter moves to systems where AI can aid in clinical diagnosis, clinical decision support, and the use of electronic health record (EHR) and other health information technology (IT) data. Finally, it presents some areas where AI is being used to advance discoveries in medicine and pharmaceutical interventions, and ends with a coda, hardly fantastical, on how AI approaches may be used to semiautomatically mine large corpora of scientific literature to make new discoveries in aging and gerontology based on complex logical inferences across extremely large numbers of facts.
Digital tools are becoming an integral part of the health care system. This chapter explores the functionality necessary to promote older adults’ engagement with digital health tools, health behavior concepts that may be used to promote adoption, and suggests interventions to promote usage. The primary focus is on addressing factors that are within the practitioner’s ability to influence, such as digital health tool user education and proper selection of technology, while recognizing that some barriers to adoption, such as lack of high-speed Internet connections in rural areas, will require federal, state, and local community involvement. In addition, the chapter explores practical considerations when deploying technologies to diverse groups of older users and their caregivers. Finally, it examines methods in which providers may seek reimbursement for digital health services within their practices.