Is Tech a Four Letter Word?

Do some professionals think we're speaking another language? Maybe it's just my particular experience. But have you ever tried to discuss aging in place technology with a home care agency or other caregiver group and watched them morph into that blank stare, I-don’t-like-or-trust-technology catatonic state? A while ago, I was at a presentation given by the West Wireless Health Institute.  In the room were dozens of caregiver organizations – home care agencies, disease affinity groups, senior centers, etc. The presentation was fascinating – GloCaps, Band-Aid heart monitors -- all kinds of neat health gadgets as well as the challenges that lie ahead with deployment and acceptance.

Creating anxiety among professionals? It seemed to me that half of the caregiver representatives fell asleep during the presentation. This was something I had never seen before in this group, which was normally attentive and interested. Then, we got to the question and answer session. Boy, did they wake up and get fired up.

· What if the technology fails?

· How can you keep it secure?

· I wouldn’t want that kind of big brother technology in my home.

· What about privacy?

· I need to see my doctor in person.

Honestly, I was dumbfounded. How could these folks not see the obvious (to me) advantages of the technologies presented?

Blast from the past. Ah, but then I remembered. Many years ago, I was working on a telephone system and we were introducing voice mail into our organization. Most of the employees hadn’t used voice mail and were slightly concerned about it. But there was one group in particular who were downright panicked about its installation - the secretaries/administrative assistants. Why? Voice mail was too hard, too confusing, too impersonal, too unprofessional. Then, I got the real reason when a one said, “What will I do now? The boss won’t need me to answer his phone calls anymore and I won’t have a job.”

Fear of job loss? The tech industry needs the home care agencies and other caregiver channels to learn to love technology solutions. But, we have an uphill battle ahead of us, especially if a deep-seated fear of job loss is part of the picture. Sun Tsu said, “For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards.” The industry must find a way to quantify the rewards of AIP technology deployment for each channel. Increased profits, less liability, lower employee turnover, increased employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction – what does your product or service provide to help professional caregiver organizations?

Susan Estrada is the founder of Happy@Home, a new product testing and review site, and will offer her perspective in this blog from time to time.

Four Letter Word

Yes “Tech” must be a four letter word and should be replaced, immediately with “Knowledge.” Your concerns can then be dealt with through understanding and patience..

I have decided that I am qualified to share my opinions because I have graduated with a degree in engineering, have been responsible for marketing television and TV system related products since 1947 but more importantly I am qualified and experienced at being “OLD”

The problems you described are not new, I have experienced the fears of failure, security, big bother and job loss over and over. My best remembered situation was when I was trying to sell a break- through Cable Television system to a government agency. The potential client admitted that my small company had the best solution to his problem but said that any failure with my system would cost him his job. If my giant competitor’s system failed it would be their problem, not his. Moral of the story: You can’t win ‘em all.

Products for aging in place are problem solvers for older adults who develop hearing, seeing, memory and mobility needs as they themselves age. We, and I am one of them, are moving targets and require unique combinations of solutions.

We are the patients. Next in the chain is the entity that pays to solve the problem (s). When the payer is a family member, personal concerns on the part of the patient and payer are controlling considerations. Product and system integrators already have many of the components and the knowledge to solve most of the problems. They just appear to be too expensive ---especially when they offer integrated solutions to problems that the patient does not now have.

For the present the industry appears to be in the single solution phase but moving toward system solutions. The payers may be the patient, the patient’s family or some future government agency.

When the problem must have a system solution, the most cost effective systems will take off. Right now, caregivers should have the knowledge of what is available through Hearing Centers, Vision Centers, Memory centers and mobility suppliers.

Then, they should become prepared to recommend whatever solution makes sense for their particular patient at this time.

Technology will take my job!!

One very simple comment. . . been there done that. But then some of us at some point also may become electronic Luddites. . email is fine for me. . . my phone is only for talking. . . too many things just confuse the issue after while and that may be part of what you are seeing as well.

Is Tech a Four Letter Word?

Across the board, Tech is more efficient, more adaptable, and a little daunting. People who love to read and write have to compete with 140 words in a Tweet. Or dribbles of Facebook postings. Social media has overpowered the hours of practice it takes to become a writer.

The advantage? E-readers will put writers into the hands of more readers. The marketplace is changing. It's scary. Sun Tzu is right: There must be a reward.

another take......

Susan
Enjoyed your thoughts and as both a presenter and a older adult provider (hopefully and innovative one, at that) I have an additional take:

My experience is that many tech companies have not partnered with providers to solve the real issue of innovative wellness and care technology; adherence in the "real" world. I have yet to be introduced to a cool technology solution that didn't perform as advertised, although that is only one small step on the roadmap to successful implementation. Fall monitors requiring chest straps, GPS solutions for early stage dementia that do not account for anxiety, home connection platforms that use the same self reporting survey daily and many other solutions that don't also address the provider coaching need.

Yes, tech companies spend a lot to create but providers are often left on their own to spend time, money and emotional market confidence risk on putting all of the process pieces together after the purchase. Our company may take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year piloting an already "market-ready" solution to avoid mistakes and build rather than hinder market confidence. I am happy to provide the price tag associated to this in the past 2 years encompassing over 35 solutions.

I think it is less about job security and more about failure paralysis in a fairly conservative vertical industry. This is not a new dilemma. Creators struggle with implementers continually. The stakes are quite high today that WE (collective advocate WE) link arms innovatively as “aggregate creator-providers” to complete the circle of improved health/care for older adults.

Again, great thoughts. Thank you.
Steve Hopkins

More

Steve.

I would love to hear more about your deployment of tech, especially any products or services that were smoother implementations.

Susan

happy to connect

hopkinss@evangelicalhomes.org and happy to call to chat

Tech Resistance in Long Term Care

Susan, my experience has been much like yours. I am a home care agency owner. I've had my agency for about a year. I came into the biz because it is personal.I have been my wife's caregiver who has lived with debilitating sarcoidosis and a tracheostomy for the past twelve years.

My work before long term care was in IT, the past 10 years at Microsoft. I was stunned to discover how far behind the long term care industry was in technology adoption. More surprising to me, however, was the level of resistance to technology generally. I've seen it before though.

Before my career in IT, I was a Parole Officer for a dozen years in Washington state. I guess that's what happens when you live long enough, you get to try a lot of different stuff. The Criminal Justice crew discovered I had a hobby...computers. That's how the second career was launched. Anyway, with a team of subject matter experts and technologists, we launched a system that enhanced the monitoring capabilities for Parole Officers of Offenders. We proved the concept and demonstrated it's efficacy. The system is used today in my state. This is another time I saw resistance to technology that reminds me of what I see today in Long Term Care.

For me the similarity pivots upon the fact that both groups see themselves, with good reason, as being people who cannot be replaced by a machine. They are skeptical of anything that potentially removes discernment and interpretation by a trained human. It took a lot of conversations and tests to prove to the Parole Officers that these devices were tools, nothing more. I expect that the same is true for Long Term Care professionals. They'll come to understand.

In the mean time, I regularly tell caregivers that they have one of the most important jobs in the world. When all is said and done, humans need compassion, care, and touch. Without it, humans fail to thrive. The new technology to give them more time for what they're best at, care giving.

Keep preaching the gospel. Good post, thanks.

@markshea

Mark, Have you found any of

Mark,
Have you found any of the technologies in Laurie's Overview report ready for your practice?

Susan

Laurie's Overview

I have not used these technologies in my practice yet. I intend to. I like many of the products in Laurie's overview, which is a really good report by the way. I recommend it to people regularly.

I am in discovery phase, which ended up being much more than I expected. I have decided to enter the fray myself. I am forming a new company. I think we will be considered in the same class as GrandCare, BeClose, WellAware, and iControl. I like all of these products. I am brand and technology agnostic. I am interested in making it all available to the end user. Additionally, I will produce my own brand based on an open source business model.

The academic, pro/amateur, and hobbyist groups are producing amazing devices and apps in open source. Additionaly, other communities are coming together to share informatics and other data. I intend to create a virtual repository for open source hardware and code to collect this work. I'll support this with a social media portal: wiki, forum, blog, and social point of sale. My company will not only hold this repository but will also contribute hardware, data, and content as a community member.

Adoption of the technology coming to market today reminds me of the early days of the Web. Consumers understand the concept, that is, they can see what it is and have some vague understanding of what it can do. In my opinion, the innovators and early adopters need a place to get more information, talk about it, share best practices, and learn before we see rapid adoption of this technology by everyone else.

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