Supporting new technologies in aged care

The innovations that have emerged during the past two years show what’s possible in ICT in aged care, but legacy data centres present a problem, writes Wayne Neich.

The innovations that have emerged during the past two years show what’s possible in ICT in aged care, but legacy data centres present a problem, writes Wayne Neich.

Wayne Neich
Wayne Neich

Conversations around technology in the aged care sector continue to mature. What started as the advent for going paperless has evolved to serious discussions on how to leverage trends like digital, cloud and the Internet of Things.

At the centre of these discussions is data – business leaders have recognised the transformative role that the qualitative collection, use and delivery of data can have on both residents and staff.

Early interest in technology came in the way of electronic health records (EHR) to improve access to critical data at any time. Even the Federal Government has recently promised to revive its eHealth scheme with a $485 million investment to take medical information online.

There has also been a buzz around telehealth to mobilise staff and connect healthcare professionals regardless of location.

However, the innovations we’ve seen enter the market over the past two years – and many which are on the fringe of being unravelled – have shown us that the possibilities of IT in aged care extend far beyond just eliminating filing cabinets. Smartphones and tablets have already improved connectedness for aged care residents, providing them with firsthand access to a wider range of resources.

More interestingly, the continued influx of powerful wearable devices – from wristbands to comprehensive, customisable and purpose-built smart watches – have enabled the accurate, real-time monitoring of seniors’ wellbeing around the clock, whether it’s heart rate, blood pressure or sleep patterns. Staff can now ensure residents are happy and healthy without forcing them to report in.

Further still, smart sensors are being trialled to serve as daily aids for older Australians living in aged care and retirement communities. Just recently, Deakin University’s Professor Rajesh Vasa unveiled the Holly Smart Home Project in which specially-designed sensors will advise residents on when to take medication, drink water, have meals, and when to undertake other pre-programmed tasks. That’s just the beginning – we’re yet to see what artificial intelligence will serve up.

But the problem for aged care is that levels of data growth and end-user demand are unsustainable under existing delivery methods. The legacy data centres that store all this valuable data simply can’t manage the comprehensive requirements of modern data and the applications through which it is used. Not only do they lack the performance capabilities, they are unnecessarily difficult and expensive to manage.

As paper dwindles and organisations continue to digitise, staff become increasingly dependent on systems. Trying to offer new products and services using outdated technologies quickly jeopardises life-saving data – this is not something aged care providers are in a position to risk.

That means aged care organisations can’t just focus their investments on end-user innovations – they must first think about the backbone that will support them. The data centre should be simple – it needs to combine all of the necessary components to reliably store, process and deliver data out-of-the-box with minimal human interaction. It should also be scalable, giving the aged care provider the flexibility to cater for its unique size and performance needs. Most importantly, it needs to support a cloud-like environment so that life-saving data is available at all times.

With a modern data centre based on an enterprise cloud platform, aged care can effectively manage the wellbeing of residents by leveraging the latest end-user technologies without the risk of these systems failing. The importance of this will only rise with the next generation of innovation entering the market, particularly once artificial intelligence begins to play a more prominent role.

Wayne Neich is managing director, Australia and New Zealand at Nutanix, a provider of enterprise cloud platforms.

Tags: data-centre, nutanix, operational, wayne-neich,

1 thought on “Supporting new technologies in aged care

  1. Its a pity that in Australia we seem to be quite missing the benefit of integrating Smart Health (which already has been dealing with wearables etc etc sensors etc etc) with Smart Cities agendas, and are hung up of ITS transport and ‘resilient cites’ whatever they might be. I had the depressing experience of an ‘age friendly cities’ meeting with almost Nil knowledge of the Smart Cities and Smart Health initiatives already running around the world..and even fewer (only one other than myself-who left in disgust half way through, and myself deeply involved in IEEE SMart Cities Initiatives around the world) over 70 in the entire audience! These huge and quite unceccessary barriers between disciplines can and should be addressed- its easy just include some of the (many) highly sophisticated elderly who are well up in all this! CoDesign is well established in Europe for example, and I and my colleagues despair of the relvelant ‘dependency’ model projected upon us in our mid 70s/.. such a waste to high;y pertinent and informed expert source-and from the target age group as well!

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