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7/22/2011
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Intel-GE Device Tracks Elders' Health, Social Isolation

Care Innovation Connect monitors changes in a person's health, wellness activities, offers bridge to seniors who may live alone.

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Intel-GE Care Innovations, which continues to develop products that support healthy, independent living at home and in senior housing communities, has introduced Care Innovation Connect. The purpose of the device is twofold: to help caregivers monitor changes in the health of seniors on a daily basis and to address social isolation in older adults.

The digital device is a customizable offering that combines a range of wellness surveys, brain fitness games, medication compliance reminders, and simple social networking tools for seniors to help them "go digital" and proactively engage in their physical, social, and mental health.

"This is a non-clinical device. It's not gathering information like blood pressure or weight, although it is a tool to help with the health of seniors," Jim Pursley, general manager of independent living for Intel-GE Care Innovation, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Unlike an electronic medical record that collects clinical data, Care Innovation Connect is a device geared toward tracking other important information that alerts caregivers to the first signs of failing health. By answering survey questions tailored to their specific health issues, seniors living in their homes or senior housing can type relevant information into the connected device to record events on a daily basis.

The solution includes both the in-residence device for seniors and a backend online portal that allows caregivers to use their PCs to access information such as sleep patterns, emotional health, medication compliance, or even events like a nose bleed or aches and pains. This type of information alerts caregivers to patients' changing health needs, and helps them address health issues early. The Connect portal operates through Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in, which works on Windows platforms.

According to Pursley, to deliver higher quality healthcare at a lower cost, there needs to be a fundamental paradigm shift that moves care from reacting to a serious health episode to a model of care that embraces continual preventative measures.

"Looking at risk factors, like social isolation... cognitive health, behavioral data, and trends in daily activities such as exercise and medication adherence, are really going to have a profound impact on our ability to deliver that continual, preventative form of care," Pursley said.

Evangelical Homes of Michigan, a senior service provider in southeast Michigan, has been using Connect with a home-based focus since 2010 in an early adopter program as the product's first customer. Connect has helped the company reach into the surrounding community that it serves, enabling their wellness coaches to guide, educate, and empower older adults to make changes in their daily behaviors that are leading to significant improvements in well-being.

"We adopted Connect as part of our LifeChoice Solution program, which serves older adults who live in their own homes," Denise Rabidoux, president and CEO of Evangelical Homes of Michigan, said in a statement. "Since social isolation and loneliness are common experiences for many older adults, we chose Connect to assist us in enhancing the interaction and service between our lifestyle coaches and clients. It lets our clients feel engaged and cared for on a daily basis, making it especially relevant and effective for our members."

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