Aged care and technology: not such strange bedfellows.

In a former life, l worked for a telecommunications company whose projects included building an undersea cable to provide connectivity to remote communities in North West Australia. It was fascinating to see the thinking and engineering that goes into such a large-scale project. It was the benefits that this technology brought to the local community though that really stood out.

Looking at aged care, it’s clear that this is a sector where technology could significantly alter service provision and delivery. On the whole however, the uptake and adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within the sector is low.

This is not the case in the broader health sector, as projects such as the new Royal Adelaide Hospital demonstrate. This hospital will be the most advanced in Australia and cutting-edge technology has been integral to its design and development.

So why doesn’t the aged care sector get onboard with ICT? There’s so much technology available that perhaps the issue is understanding where to start.

Here are three developments that I believe are key disruptors for the aged care sector and should be considered by aged care providers.

  1. Telehealth. Telehealth consultations are a great way for people to access care without having to physically go to see a doctor or specialist. Given that for many older people, mobility and ease of access are often impediments to seeking care, telehealth consultations enable them to receive care and advice when they need it.
  2. Personal connectivity. Heart rate monitors, tracking devices and “smart” apparel allow people to monitor their own health and put the emphasis on wellness and prevention rather than treatment for illness.
  3. Flexible work capabilities. Using tablets and devices, it’s possible for staff to leave their desks and work remotely, whether at a resident’s bed or in a client’s home. Having the ability to work remotely can put the emphasis on care and lessen time spent on administration.

Given our ageing population, aged care providers need to consider how they can meet a growing demand for services. The benefits technology could bring to the aged care sector are undeniable.

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