Sensor-based mobile health tools keep the elderly independent

Sensor-based care coordination can help the elderly live healthier, more independent lives, according to a new research report.

The research, conducted by experts at the University of Missouri, used home care mHealth solutions to track potential fall scenarios vital signs, sleep and more. They found the tools to be effective in the care of an aging population, according to an mHealth Intelligence article.

"If you can get ahead of the symptoms, you can fix the problem when it's much smaller and avoid the hospital," project leader Marilyn Rantz, Curators Professor Emerita at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, says in the article. "If you can pick up subtle changes and address them early on, you're so much better off."

A primary focus of the mHealth solutions industry, which is expected to grow 33.4 percent through 2020, has been chronic disease management, especially in a remote care scenario. The elderly population represents a virtually untapped market when compared to healthcare segments such as those battling diabetes.

The five-year University of Missouri study involved deploying bed and motion sensors at TigerPlace, the university's independent living community, to collect data. Researchers found the tools also enhanced decision-making by care professionals by providing early warnings and alerts to potential health issues.

"Results indicate that residents living with sensors were able to reside at TigerPlace 1.7 years longer than residents living without sensors, suggesting that proactive use of health alerts facilitates successful aging in place," according to the research overview; the study was published in the November-December 2015 issue of Nursing Outlook.

Rantz tells mHealth Intelligence the program is deploying the sensor-based tools in other senior living settings, and the university is seeking seniors interested in using such sensors in their homes.

For more information:
- read the mHealth Intelligence article
- here's the study's abstract

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