Mobile Health Monitoring and Elderly Care in Scandinavia
Global interconnectivity and mobile devices provides us with easy access to all kinds of different information right at our fingertips. Information about our health is no exception since many studies suggest that a lot of people would first “google” their symptoms online before seeking professional medical help. Initially, doctors in Scandinavia were sceptical about this approach and believed that patients would not be able to understand their medical information and should not try to analyze any information related to their own health. While this may still pose a certain degree of risk to patients, with development of eHealth technology which has begun to disrupt the standard way of how things are done in healthcare, it would be wrong to say that mobile health hasn’t provided society with numerous opportunities that can bring the provision of care to a whole new level. Numerous mobile apps for monitoring disease symptoms such as blood glucose levels, heart rate or sleep patterns have enabled patients to better manage their conditions and to better understand their disease and how it is affected.
With all the problems healthcare is facing such as ageing population, increased costs, shortage of health professionals, new and innovative ways are needed to improve healthcare. On the other hand people’s “obsession” with their mobile devices and constant use of mobile apps provides a perfect opportunity for creating high quality mobile applications which would enable patients to monitor their own health and thereby empower them to take better care of their health. One healthcare field with great potential for mobile health monitoring where lots of different solutions are being developed in Scandinavia is elderly care.
Remote mobile patient monitoring in Scandinavia has the potential to greatly reduce healthcare costs, especially in elderly care. In 2012 the Boston Consulting Group has been estimated that annual savings for elderly costs due to remote monitoring amount to 1.25€ billion in Denmark, 1.5€ billion in Norway and 2.4€ billion in Sweden. Home monitoring with the help of mobile technology can enable independent and greatly improved life for elderly people which is especially important for Scandinavian countries where almost 20 percent of its population are over 65. The advancement of sensor technology connected to mobile devices creates new home alert systems to prevent accidents such as falls from becoming serious life-threatening injuries. Remote monitoring also can be helpful in delivering timely reminders so people can remember to take their medications, tracking the elderly if they wander or get lost outdoors and ease the worries of family members allowing them to easily find out where their loved ones are.
A great example of helping the elderly feel good and safe at home is a smart plug developed by a Swedish company from the Skåne region called Ewa Home. The goal was to create a solution which would enable remote monitoring of what happens in people’s own homes and in the homes of their loved ones in form of a smart plug connected to a smartphone which provides control over all the electronic equipment. Through the application, electrical gadgets can be turned on and off, dim lights and configured to send notifications to the user’s phone when devices are turned on or shut down. According to Magdalena Gräff, the co-founder of the company, the idea was conceived when she searched for a system that would assist her in keeping track her elderly grandmother. She wanted to know for instance if her grandmother had made her coffee in the morning, because
that would mean she is up and healthy. The goal was to find a simple solution without any larger technical difficulties which is how this smart plug came to be.
Another Swedish startup from Gothenburg called Innovation push has developed an application in form of a personal security alarm connected to a small button via Bluetooth which can be attached to clothes or any flat surface. This way in case of a fall or some type of accident, the elderly can easily send a distress call along with their location to their loved ones so a minor accident wouldn’t turn into something serious and life-threatening.
Activity and movement is very important for elderly people which is why Magnea, a Stockholm- based startup, developed a solution for elderly people in hospitals and retirement homes to maintain their physical strength and mobility. The aim is to make elderly patients more active to prevent diseases such as thrombosis, pressure ulcers or diabetes. They develop advanced motion detection sensors for the healthcare and elderly-care sector and use artificial intelligence to recognize movements typical for senior patients. The wearable sensors can detect falls, sleep positions, exercises, walking, standing, sitting etc. and present relevant information so the caregivers can make informed decisions and optimize care for each individual.
With so much potential for innovation, improving people’s lives and reducing healthcare costs, it should be expected that elderly care is going to become more and more technologically receptive with great solutions to make healthcare safer and easier.