Wrangling aging challenges with mobile, cloud and cognitive
My grandfather is a cowboy. He likes his meat rare and his cocktails Manhattan-style. At age 77, he’s fiercely independent and wants to spend his later years where he spent his life, on his ranch in Montana. We want that for him, too, but we worry whether he’ll remember to take his medication, stay hydrated and regularly make the food choices his health challenges dictate.
Each of us can relate to this in some way.
Today, 64 million people over the age of 65 are aging in place, but many are struggling. In the US alone, more than 36 percent of people over 65 have some type of disability or difficulty with activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, bathing, grooming or getting out of bed according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Given global aging projections that claim the old will outnumber the young by 2050, there’s no doubt that helping seniors remain at home will become increasingly difficult and expensive for governments, healthcare organizations and families worldwide.
My grandfather is not alone — and neither are we.
Technology can make it feasible and affordable for people to age in place. SimpleC brings together decades of medical and behavioral therapy research with data, analytics and cognitive computing on the cloud to support seniors’ success with ADLs and help them manage chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Connectivity is key for the “triad of care,” which comprises care recipients, healthcare providers and families. Mobile makes this not only possible, but easy, intuitive and engaging. From a tablet or larger touchscreen display, seniors’ days are guided by dynamic, media-based “stories” that help with everything from medication and meal reminders to social planning and mood changes that commonly occur in the evening. Family members can download the Companion Family Connect app to their personal devices to check in on their loved one’s day and instantly upload personalized photo and video messages. Care providers use Companion Clinical Connect to monitor and provide input on patient care. At every point in the triad of care, the network is connected so families and providers have access to the complete picture of the users and their day.
Health, safety and improved quality of life are the ultimate goals and SimpleC’s measure for success. For the senior user, the personalization of stories is essential, particularly for those with cognitive conditions. Research shows that regular visual and auditory reminders of familiar and beloved sights, sounds and people improve memory and mood and contribute to better day-to-day functioning.
Data, analytics and powerful cognitive capabilities play an important role in the solution’s effectiveness. Most of SimpleC’s data comes from two key sources: healthcare systems and the triad of care. Building our solution on the cloud on IBM Bluemix made it fast and easy to use APIs to connect to rich healthcare databases and enhance functional capabilities for a better user experience. For example, our engineers were able to switch from a third-party push notification service to Bluemix push services and deploy the update to our Companion apps in just four hours.
IBM Watson allows family members and caregivers to use natural, conversational language to build seniors’ initial profiles and record daily observations. Everything they say is then processed and scored by the Watson Tone Analyzer to improve the user profile and assess the emotional state of the family. All the data from the triad of care is fed into SimpleC’s analytics engine, Care Matrix, where it is evaluated against the senior’s set goals and can trigger real-time changes to their stories, schedule and plan of care.
Over time, SimpleC’s technology collaboration with IBM has made the solution smarter. We originally launched our platform with 60 industry-approved symptoms. Today, we have more than 2,800 symptoms that we correlate against to provide exponentially better insights and recommendations. For our senior care recipients, the solution currently helps them achieve nearly 70 percent of personal care and wellness goals and reduces Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms by 60 percent — and outcomes are improving every day. Those are the kind of results that can keep my cowboy on his ranch and your loved ones in their homes longer while providing peace of mind for everyone in the circle of care.