Two firms seek to engage seniors with mHealth

With hospitals using mobile technology to reach out to patients, a tablet app that engages seniors could make mobile outreach to this fragile patient community much easier -- a task that would certainly come in handy under an accountable care model.

Enter Telecare company Independa, San Diego, which has created an intriguing new senior-friendly tablet app. Responding to seniors' growing Internet- and mobile-savvy, the "Angela" app is a vendor-neutral tablet platform that puts entertainment, games, social media, email, video chat and other functions on a single tablet. The app's user interface has larger fonts, brighter colors and clearer contrast, making it easier for aging eyes to see, company officials say. And it allows older users one-touch access to communication options like email and Internet without having to know how to log onto a computer, they add.

The app will bring Independa's existing lineup of medication reminders, health scheduling and other, more social products into the tablet environment.

And while company officials won't call the app a telemedicine product (they describe it as a "social engagement platform"), they're moving full speed ahead to add health sensors to the platform later this year. Since its first demo last fall, the system has been on a path toward telehealth connectivity, including vital sign, activity and mobility monitoring.

Laurie Orlov, founder of market research firm Aging in Place Technology Watch hints that the combination of health and social functionality may be one way telehealth is delivered in the future.

"Traditional telehealth boxes and computers are last-decade clumsy approaches to helping older adults, providers and caregivers. Twenty-first century solutions will look more like the integrated engagement and wellness platforms ... like ... ‘Angela,'" Orlov tells HealthcareITNews. The system goes into beta testing this month, with commercial rollout set for September.

On another senior-related mHealth note, Jitterbug's creator, GreatCall, has debuted its own new iPhone app to help seniors manage their medications. Called "MedCoach," it's designed to be easy for older users with a 24/7 live customer service support and a "shake for help" function that allows users to simply shake the phone to retrieve a help screen for their latest task. The app itself provides medication reminders, pharmacy connectivity and a searchable drug database, company officials say.

To learn more:

- check out the Healthcare IT News story
- read UberGizmo's coverage
- get more detail from VentureBeat.com
- dig into WiredVC's coverage
- here's the GreatCall announcement

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