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Devices, assistive technologies key to elderly independence and care
[April 19, 2008]

Devices, assistive technologies key to elderly independence and care

(AHC Newsletters Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Devices, assistive technologies key to elderly independence and care

One critical strategy for helping the aging to remain independent is to help them live longer at home, thus providing a major and expanding role for new devices and assistive systems, not just drugs. And new systems will also keep caregivers, whether professionals or unpaid family and friends, healthy and uninjured.

Carol Raphael, a co-author of the new Institute of Medicine report on aging, said one of the report's key messages relates to emerging technologies targeting old age.

"Medical device companies should be engaged in developing more assistive technologies; they are very important to enable people to remain at home," Raphael told Medical Device Daily. "We had a report that looked at a range of assistive technology and smart homes that can be adapted to enable people to function at the highest levels independently."

"The use of these technologies can reduce the physical demands of many tasks, perhaps leading to a reduction in the rate of injury among direct-care workers," according to the report. "One such example would be technologies that can assist with tasks that often result in muscle strain on the part of workers, such as lateral transfers, repositioning patients up or side-to-side in bed, and bed-to-chair or bed-to-wheelchair transfers."

The report goes on to include health information technology, such as interoperable electronic health records and remote monitoring, saying that these technologies can be "used to support the healthcare workforce by improving communication among providers and their patients, building a record of population data, promoting interdisciplinary patient care and care coordination, facilitating patient transitions, and improving quality and safety overall."

The need for more technological assistance is but one element of change that needs to be included in a major overhaul of healthcare delivery.

Publishing the IOM report has the purpose of raising a sense of urgency on the issue.

"The solutions we are recommending are very practical," Raphael said. "We're building on things that were already happening rather than creating new programs that need to be funded.

? Lynn Yoffee, Staff Writer

SOURCE-Medical Device Daily

Copyright ? 2008 AHC Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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