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What is the Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults?

Lots of talk about remote care technologies -- but will the 2020 crisis convert to actual technology change?   So much has changed in recent months as a result of Covid-19 -- startling changes that previously were incremental.  Consider reimbursement for telehealth technologies, a wave of free engagement software,  distribution of tablets to senior centers and Echo Dots to senior living, to remote care voice tech for high needs seniors and government-funded competition to combat social isolation.  And no doubt that's just a subset of what's happening as frantic attempts are made to close gaps in communication, care delivery, safety, social isolation and more.  

Consider the components of technology to deliver remote care. As the world settles into a post-pandemic phase, what will matter most for the care of and benefit for older adults? Of course, ramping up access to technology using what’s available today is a good start. Organizations everywhere are rallying to the need to fix or solidify connectivity, whether as part of national policy directive, care delivery, family pressure, staff retention, or maintaining service delivery. These include senior housing, skilled nursing facilities, home care, home healthcare, or healthcare providers. High speed internet connections, smartphone adoption, software access will likely follow. What technology considerations will need to be next, so that uptake and deployment can move from a desperate to a more measured pace?

What are the dimensions of remote care technology? What should they be? After the re-opening and stabilization phase of businesses in 2020 and beyond, families, seniors and care delivery organizations will want to do better at obtaining and delivering remote care in its many forms -- i.e. when the care recipient is elsewhere. What will be the priority? Telehealth demands continued investment -- phone, video, remote patient and/or device monitoring. Along with telehealth, will wearables for health and wellbeing be a priority post Covid-19? What about voice and other engagement technologies – or other tools for caregiver teams and family connection? And for home care – is there a better way to engage and retain the worker? What changes will be wrought in smart home categories – sensors, robotics, predictive analytics that improve remote monitoring and carein a post-Covid world?

Thoughts welcome. With the pandemic at some point behind them, how/will senior-focused organizations -- including seniors centers, senior living, healthcare providers, home care and home health care -- change their use of technology next year and beyond?  

[Note: This is the third of a series of blog posts about "The Future of Remote Care Technology and Older Adults 2020" a research report to be published in Q4 2020.]

Comments

This pandemic has forced the progressive care trends that technology offers to accelerate. Senior care has been slow to adopt technology as it disrupts the traditional smothering, controlling ways of doing things, being in charge and control over someone’s aging trajectory is powerful and a financially rewarding position to be in. Most “cutting-corner technology” in that world will be outdated soon as the institutionalized senior wants and needs the irreplaceable human touch. The established institutional ways of care and control will be replaced by domestic technology, giving the older-adult control over their lives and ways they want to grow older and live out their lives at home. Technology will grow strongly into the private domain, helping older-adults to help themselves and one another; it gives them the power to do so. Consumer technology has edified and prepared the new aging older-adult, bringing with it a new culture of democratization, liberating the senior to use technology not as a top-down controlling instrument controlled by the care-giver, but controlled by the assertive senior as a consumer. Many new things in the world have been there before one way or another; applied technology to the process of aging has never been as cultivated as it is today, with a bright future ahead as the pandemic has accelerated this cultural shift into the fast lane, with  social distancing being the biggest contributor to this cultural shift.