As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, it forcibly pushed pre-existing systems and paradigms toward digitization in an incredibly short amount of time. As a result, businesses across all industries, including the healthcare sector, have incorporated digital elements into their services to keep up with the rising virtual demands of consumers. That said, one key demographic has historically and woefully been neglected when it comes to digital transformation, due largely to gaps in tech literacy and adoption – our elderly population. Until now.
The pandemic changed everything, including senior care, and recent studies show that older or aging Americans have begun to embrace technology when it comes to virtual healthcare delivery and management. When healthcare companies and digital health solutions aspire to create user-friendly interfaces that elderly patients can easily navigate and understand, they can ultimately improve patient outcomes and elevate truly end-to-end experiences for one of our most vulnerable populations.
Some of the most standout benefits seniors can gain from HealthTech advancements include:
1. Unprecedented convenience
Telemedicine has revolutionized healthcare in the COVID-19 era. Virtual tools have made it easier than ever for patients, including the elderly, to access on-demand health services while enhancing the convenience of coordinated care management. The emergence of 5G mobile technology, machine learning, and AI have also boosted remote patient monitoring and health assistance technologies. Market predictions estimate that the telemedicine sector will cross $175.5 billion USD by 2026, which tells us that more telehealth solutions are being developed and adopted to serve key demographics like seniors.
2. Access to AI & IoT solutions
The Internet of Things and AI innovation are already powering groundbreaking healthcare tools that benefit the senior population by granting them easy access to the services they need most. Personal digital health assistants (like Renee) help elderly and polychronic patients more easily book their medical appointments, coordinate transportation, maintain medication schedules, refill prescriptions, and contact their primary caregivers in times of need. The combination of AI and human support provides patients with a lifeline to serve all of their healthcare needs in one place. Additionally, smartphones and wearable devices are capable of tracking a senior’s vitals and sending out real-time alerts to healthcare providers in case of emergencies.
3. Ease of transportation
Another significant way in which healthcare technology has benefited the aging population is by enhancing their mobility. Many healthcare assistant applications nowadays come with built-in options to search and book for rides to and from clinics. This has not only eased the challenges in mobility among seniors in the USA but also significantly boosted their independence and confidence. The highlight of this feature is that it only connects with drivers trained to handle basic health emergencies, keeping in mind the needs of the aging and ailing population.
4. Automated alerts
More than 12 million American seniors live alone, which increases the need for timely, readily available care in case of medical emergencies. To meet this need, many wearable devices and HealthTech platforms can monitor daily activities, capture important health data, and send out alerts to primary caregivers if problems arise. Often, these devices are specifically designed with simplicity, ease of use, and practicality in mind, which can mean the difference between life and death for many patients.
5. Enhanced electronic medical records (EMRs)
The EMR market is set to generate revenues worth almost $40.5 billion USD by the end of 2027. This major growth is credited to the conceptualization and design of EMRs which are user-friendly, safe, shareable, and therefore can easily be mapped to different apps. If patients decide to visit different doctors, they can easily transition and access their medical records via these apps, saving a lot of valuable time, unnecessary headaches, and extraneous efforts to recreate data by examining the patient all over again. This, in turn, also expedites treatment procedures. What’s more – the confidentiality and compliance maintained by EMRs are enforced by highly sophisticated encryption algorithms that keep patient data safe.
6. Maintenance of cognitive health
Innovations in Virtual Reality (VR) have stupendously transformed how older Americans deal with cognitive impairments. As per research conducted by the University of Maryland, VR helped improve cognitive accuracy in older adults by almost 8.8 percent. Cognitive training is nowadays carried out through gamification using VR to create individualized activities that resemble real-life functioning. These are designed specifically for elderly folks, encouraging them through more interactive games that help stabilize their cognitive capabilities. Moreover, VR is also said to be safe, affordable, and effective in managing certain symptoms of depression.
7. Improved communication
For the majority of people, and of course the elderly, the capacity to hear is fundamental to the ability to communicate. But hearing loss or impairment is a common condition among older adults, which often hampers their quality of life. But developments in hearing aid technologies have significantly eased challenges in communication among aging Americans. It has not only offered them effective assistance in hearing but also widened the scale of acceptance and adoption of hearing aids. Another significant part of communication is comprehension. Automated translation technologies can now help elderly patients overcome language barriers with their caregivers, by translating conversations.
8. Healthy aging and mental well-being
Loneliness and social isolation among older Americans are the major causes of overall poor mental health, sleep disorders, and negligible physical activities. All of these factors are known to bear implications for increased rates of mortality. Mobile apps and social communication technologies designed specifically for the aging population can help them maintain social connections and promote better mental health. Healthtech can also be employed to help maintain their personal mobility and provide assistance in moving around and navigation. These aspects are intrinsically interlinked with an overall healthy mind and body, hence facilitating aging in a healthy manner.
Seniors generally have a tough time dealing with modern technologies. So it is vital to encourage them to embrace technology by designing user-friendly and intuitive apps. That way, they can not only befriend health apps faster but also derive maximum benefits on time.