E-health and m-health applications for older people

Use of ICT is promising in achieving good and affordable healthcare

The use of ICT for healthy ageing has been characterised as a powerful ally in achieving good and affordable healthcare. Throughout the IROHLA project we identified many health literacy interventions using ICT technologies from the private sector, which can be used in various conditions. We identified technology to enhance the health of senior citizens, improve quality of life and healthcare services, and we found a variety of technical equipment and devices (e.g. mobile phones/ tablets, video games, internet) in order to achieve their health objectives. Here, we provide an overview of applications.

Usability for different conditions

E-health applications are used for a number of medical and health conditions, including:

  • Chronic disease management
  • Medication management/adherence
  • Managing cognitive impairment in older adults
  • Loss of independence in older patients
  • Mobility impairment
  • Falls
  • Isolation/ Depression
  • Support for carers
  • Support for healthcare professionals

E-health for senior citizen’s health may include

  1. Mobile phone/Tablet Download PDF here, here  and here
  2. Gamification Find website here
  3. Decision Support Systems (DSS) Find website here and here
  4. Web-based technologies and services Download PDF here
  5. Sensor based – telemedicine Download PDF here
  6. Electronic Medical Records (including patient records, clinical administration systems, digital imaging & archiving systems, e-prescribing, e-booking) Download PDF here
  7. Health information networks
  8. Virtual reality & robotics Download PDF here and here
  9. Digital imaging and computer-assisted surgery Find website here
  10. Wearable and portable monitoring systems Find website here and here

The European Union and e-health for seniors

The importance of ICT for improving health literacy among older people is repeatedly stressed in numerous policy recommendations (for example here). It is also crucial for understanding how the market in this field operates, and what factors facilitate or hinder market development. In fact, this ‘market’ represents a complex public-private mix of stakeholders, from device manufacturers to health and social care service providers, which interact and have roles to play in ensuring that useful technologies are developed, implemented and used. The organisation Patient Views maintains an online directory of health applications in Europe. Find website here

Unique opportunity to build evidence-driven private – public partnerships

E-health and m-health applications are crucial in managing chronic illness, especially in terms of demographic ageing and the rapidly growing proportion of those aged 55 and over.

There is a unique opportunity to create strong private/public collaborations and partnerships to improve self-management among older adults with low health literacy. It is necessary to be guided in this endeavour by EU regulations and operation and evaluation frameworks.

At EU level recently the EU legal framework on e-health was adopted which provides a general framework of operation for e-health applications. Download PDF here

The Scottish government has issued a refreshed strategy concerning e-health applications. Find website here

BBC media coverage – Find website here

References

Boulos, M. N., Wheeler, S., Tavares, C., & Jones, R. (2011). How smartphones are changing the face of mobile and participatory healthcare: an overview, with example from eCAALYX. Biomedical engineering online, 10(1), 24.

Parker, S. J., Jessel, S., Richardson, J. E., & Reid, M. C. (2013). Older adults are mobile too! Identifying the barriers and facilitators to older adults’ use of mHealth for pain management. BMC geriatrics, 13(1), 43.

Miller, M. J., Abrams, M. A., Barbara, M., Cantrell, M. A., Dossett, C. D., McCleeary, E. M., … & Sager, E. R. (2008). Promoting health communication between the community-dwelling well-elderly and pharmacists: The Ask Me 3 program. Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 48(6), 784-792.

Finkel, S., Czaja, S. J., Martinovich, Z., Harris, C., Pezzuto, D., & Schulz, R. (2007). E-care: a telecommunications technology intervention for family caregivers of dementia patients. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry, 15(5), 443-448.

Shea, S., Weinstock, R. S., Teresi, J. A., Palmas, W., Starren, J., Cimino, J. J., … & IDEATel Consortium. (2009). A randomized trial comparing telemedicine case management with usual care in older, ethnically diverse, medically underserved patients with diabetes mellitus: 5 year results of the IDEATel study. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 16(4), 446-456.

Parente, S. T., & McCullough, J. S. (2009). Health information technology and patient safety: evidence from panel data. Health Affairs, 28(2), 357-360.

Patton, J., Dawe, G., Scharver, C., Mussa-Ivaldi, F., & Kenyon, R. (2006). Robotics and virtual reality: a perfect marriage for motor control research and rehabilitation. Assistive Technology, 18(2), 181-195.

Rizzo, A. A., Requejo, P., Winstein, C. J., Lange, B., Ragusa, G., Merians, A., … & Aisen, M. (2011). Virtual reality applications for addressing the needs of those aging with disability. In MMVR (pp. 510-516).

Frasson, M., Braga, M., Vignali, A., Zuliani, W., & Di Carlo, V. (2008). Benefits of laparoscopic colorectal resection are more pronounced in elderly patients. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, 51(3), 296-300.

Park, S., & Jayaraman, S. (2003). Enhancing the quality of life through wearable technology. Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, IEEE, 22(3), 41-48.