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Covid-19 – Technology changes accelerate – some a work-in-progress

Note the wave of announcements of 'free' tech services and sea changes. A number of companies popped into my inbox in the past week with announcements of a period of free access to remote care/engagement technologies – including and in alphabetical order CareCentrix, CareTree, Ergo, Eversound, Outpatient, Ready Responders, NurseCaller, Touchtown, StaySmartCare, SeeYouLink, and VitalTech. If your firm is in the remote care/caregiving space (health, telehealth, engagement), please comment or email and I will add to this list. And our family doctor’s staff initiated an offer of a Facetime (or Skype or Hangouts or other choice) for a follow-up visit instead of going into the office. Note the other ‘temporary’ change of reimbursement for remote (even telephone) visits, now fitting into the concept of telehealth. The ‘tipping point’ of telehealth is here – and tipping with a suddenness that is unnerving for overstretched vendors and most notably, difficult for providers who may lack the equipment and/or processes to deal with patients remotely, despite the risks to themselves with in-person interaction.

Remote engagement technology is suddenly a must-have in senior living. This is the same senior living industry that was s-l-o-w-l-y implementing high speed connections and resident Wi-Fi for many years. But nursing homes, specifically? Well, as of 2015, only one-third offered free Wi-Fi to residents. In 2018 and 2019, infrastructure topped the list of investments for surveyed organizations, particularly multi-site campuses that might include nursing homes. Following the most recent no-visitors rules, it’s easy to imagine the accelerated ramp up in order to accommodate anxious families and also to support the use of telehealth for residents who cannot go anywhere and cannot be visited by doctors either.

Home health care and home care – what are they doing? It has looked like all Healthcare providers, including Home Health, were getting the same telehealth arrangement as physicians’ practices – so telehealth services could only be used to augment in-person visits/care. But since doctors are now being reimbursed as though the visit was in person, that has been clarified to enable Medicare reimbursement for telehealth during the ’30 day’ plan of care. Home care (companion or personal care) is typically paid for by families. And the segment does not seem to have any change concerning tech use, though it may just not be documented. Comments to the contrary are welcome.

Imagine a year from now – what will have changed in tech importance? Here are the first five things that come to mind: 1) Families will be ramping up the use of tech for their aging relatives, requiring improvements to user interface and availability of training; 2) Senior living will be nearing the end of deploying Wi-Fi to the resident unit; 3) Nursing homes will have a process if not an actual program to provide residents with at least temporary tech (loaner tablets?); Or the could move around a kiosk-style offered like that offered by iN2L that enables communication with families when none can enter a building; 4) The Medicare telehealth reimbursement equivalent to in-person visits will not be rescinded – and providers will have to accommodate the appropriate mix of in-person and remote based on health status and condition. 5) Changes in technology use may impact staffing and make the care delivery structure in all settings more efficient – as it could long have been -- but no serious pressure until now.

Feedback is welcome, either through posted comments or to laurie@ageinplacetech.com.

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Through our foundation, BlueStar is offering free daily or weekly "CareCalls", in which a human on our call center staff calls a senior, asks a couple questions, and then e-mails those results to friends/family/carecircle.  Our website has details:    www.bluestarseniorveterans.org/care-calls

The free HiLois app allows Seniors to receive pictures, messages, or both on their tablet/iPad when sent by members of their HiLois private network from their mobile device. When sent by a member of their network, the picture/message appears almost instantly full screen on the tablet/iPad. It then joins everything previously sent in scrolling slideshow-like fashion. The Senior doesn't have to do a thing. A chime alerts them of a new picture/message and then it simply appears. There are no costs associated with the HiLois app or it's use. More about the app at on the HiLois website  https://www.hilois.com/   See a demo of the app on the HiLois YouTube channel or go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr3kTUACDRY

Found in the Apple Store and Google Play

GiveFit has made all chair-based and low-impact senior workouts available FREE on our website: https://givefit.org/log-in

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