Technology gives home health care a new look
For people wanting to "age in place" or manage chronic disease at home, technologies linking them to providers, caregivers and family are getting smarter and smaller. It used to be seniors who fell and couldn't get up had to push a button for help.
Now, sensor technology in Lifeline Services AutoAlert - the same push-button pendant people have been wearing for decades - detects if someone falls and automatically contacts a company call center if they don't get up in 30 seconds, says Sheree Ford of Phillips Home Monitoring, a business group in Framingham, Mass., which includes Lifeline.
Their representatives call 911 if the customer says they're hurt or there's no response. Other technology, like Genesis DM, a remote patient care device made by Brookfield, Wis.,-based Honeywell HomMed, collects vital signs and asks yes/no questions to gauge how a person with chronic disease is doing - sending the information to a caregiver. It resembles a clock radio.
"People don't want something that looks like medical equipment in their home," says Don Frolo, a territory manager with the company. Industry insiders say future monitoring will be even more inconspicuous, with increased emphasis on using technology we own, including computers and phones, to stay healthy.
Already, some cell phone technologies transmit glucose readings and other vital signs, and the wireless home health market is poised for massive growth. "All of this is about providing a person with a greater sense of control over their well-being," Ford says.