Integrating digital health into aged care

Technology needs to be maxmised in clinical health settings, delegates at the ITAC conference hear.

Care outcomes will improve as a result of the use of integrated technology, delegates hear at an industry event on Tuesday.

“For a patient, it can mean easy access to affordable and effective care,” said Professor Gregory Alexander from Columbia University in New York. “For providers, it can help improve the quality of care that they can deliver.”

Professor Alexander – also a registered nurse – was addressing delegates attending the Innovation & Technology Across Care conference held on the Gold Coast.

Professor Greg Alexander

Professor Alexander spoke about emerging technologies being used by nurses and clinicians working in long-term care in the United States, such as ambient sensor systems.

“To measure and report change in conditions for falls that happen in a person’s home. Or measures of restlessness or breathing patterns that are collected from electronic mats that are put in a chair that allows us to understand how a person is sitting and how they’re managing their illness.”

Professor Alexander also told the delegates packed into a hall at the RACV Royal Pines Resort how the US care industry is utilising artificial intelligence. “To create linguistic summaries from real-time data from sensors in people’s homes to help us understand what their baseline function level is. The sensors can allow us to understand what those changes are and send messages to nurses or other clinicians so they can go in and say, ‘Are you feeling okay? It looks like things are changing.’”

Such technologies, said Professor Alexander, signal “a major shift in the way we are going to be taking care of our people.” When it comes to integrated care technology, the US and Australia are on the same journey, he said, and can share insights along the way. “We really can learn from one another.”

Health IT maturity linked to provider viability and quality

Professor Alexander has done extensive work around the digital maturity of aged care providers both in the US over many years and in Australia as a key contributor to the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council’s Digital Maturity in Aged and Community Care project.

In addition to better care outcomes, the findings of his US research, which has collectively involved thousands of aged care homes, shows there are links between health IT maturity and a provider’s “slack”  – which refers to their financial health, social capital and market competitiveness.

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda on the sidelines of the conference, Professor Alexander discusses these positive links and how providers can improve their digital maturity.

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Tags: digitial maturity, ITAC 2024, Professor Gregory Alexander,

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