Tech to Help Aging Adults

The National Science and Technology Council established to coordinate science and technology established by the Executive Branch to coordinate science and technology policy for the Executive Branch, is overseen by the Office of Science and Technology Policy

To study the potential of technology to maximize the independence of aging Americans, the NSTC Committee on Technology established the “Task Force of Research and Development for Technology to Support Aging Adults.” A report was issued by the “Task Force on March 2019 titled “Emerging Technologies to Support an Aging Population”.

The report has an in-depth section on the use of technology and specifically discusses telehealth and how the technology can be used to improve healthcare access and quality, promote smoother care transitions, assist people to better manage their health, promote effective eCare planning, facilitate shared care planning, and proactively plan care for complex high risk patients.

The report discusses the need to develop, implement, and evaluate scalable and sustainable telehealth programs. The goal should be to develop innovative telehealth to incorporate the use of smartphones, and sensor technology. At the same time, it is important to evaluate the impact of different telehealth applications and models of delivery on patients, families, and clinical teams related to outcomes in terms of time, costs, and utilization.

Another area, mentioned in the report where technology can play an important role is with the efficacy and safety of prescription and over-the-counter medications so that older individuals are able to maintain proper dosing and avoid negative drug interactions.

For older adults, taking multiple, duplicative, or unnecessary medications as well as taking certain drugs can increase the risk for serious adverse reactions that can lead to falls or cognitive impairment which may limit functional independence and may require additional health resources.

The report discusses further technologies to help the aging population such as:

  • Developing sensors to monitor real-time physiological and pharmacological factors
  • Leveraging tools like wireless medication pill organizers, electronic packaging, and digital pills
  • Improving technology to help people with impaired vision identify their medications
  • Providing for advanced mobile phone-based adherence interventions beyond daily reminders through more sophisticated text messages
  • Developing context-aware technology capable of detecting and understanding the relationships between users in terms of their environment, and activities
  • Developing automated medication reconciliation systems and clinical decision support systems to allow clinicians to understand a person’s full medication use to help reduce the simultaneous use of multiple medications and duplication of therapies
  • Identifying the most effective ways to report information on adherence back to providers by providing data that is accessible, actionable, and delivered at the right time to the healthcare team
  • Integrating mobile adherence data with electronic health records to foster better individual adherence outcomes as well as facilitate the testing of large scale system interventions and health information exchanges

Go to: for the report Emerging Technologies to Support an Aging Population.

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