Adapting Technology to an Aging Population
10,000 Americans will turn 65 years old and become eligible for Medicare — the country’s most popular health plan — every single day for the next ten years. Yet these are the same people that are at most risk of being left behind in the next-generation of health care.
As digital health has made its way into the country’s largest health systems over the last five years, seniors, the ones suffering most, and often the most severely, from chronic diseases like congestive heart failure, cancer, kidney disease, and Type II diabetes, have been left behind by this burgeoning wave of technology.
And yet, some of these same technologies that the ‘worried well’ use every day — fitness trackers, remote monitoring apps, smart pill bottles, and telemedicine services — could be adapted to fit the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable. However, making that change requires the hard work of showing up — to meet patients where they are and learn their most important needs first hand.
We’ve met countless patients in the hospital that wouldn’t dare download a new smartphone app, and in some cases, stopped using the ones their physicians recommended because they were too cumbersome to figure out. Those same patients were texting their grandkids in-between interview questions letting them know that they were doing okay.
These patients had complicated medication schedules, confusing instructions to care for and prevent infection of surgical incision sites, drastic changes in diet to manage chronic disease, and new exercise regimens that they couldn’t get motivated to begin. These weren’t simple problems that technology would solve with an app or a wearable, they needed people, support, and the right words, at the right time.
Our team wanted to build something that could not only improve the strongest bond in health care— the relationship between a patient and their care team, but also provide support, guidance, and a friendly, attentive ear when they were away from the hospital. In fact, 99% of health care happens outside of the hospital, so it only makes sense to build tools that help our nation’s most vulnerable manage their health and their mind as well as possible when they’re on their own.
Why not take what the best health care systems do — make time for clinicians to talk to patients and guide them through their treatment plans and care management at home — and bring it to the masses? At Memora Health, we standardized the best practices of care management and automated delivery to patients, letting physicians, nurses, and care managers spend their scarce, one-on-one time with patients who need additional support. By treating health care delivery like a conversation, we hope to make it incredibly simple for patients to explain their needs to their care team and, by keeping track of the most common questions, concerns, and issues that patients raise, help clinicians deliver the best possible care for their current patients and figure out how to improve their treatment protocols in advance for their future ones.
We know that novel technologies, shifts in reimbursement, and an aging demographic will usher a new generation of health care delivery, but rather than watch cutting-edge machine learning algorithms try to figure out how to take care of patients, why not build software that brings the best standards for taking care of patients to every hospital in the country? To us, that sounds like the future of medicine.