In-home Health Alert Systems in Rural and Remote Areas of Australia: A Survey of Doctors' and Patients' Views

Publisher:
Advanced Institute of Convergence IT
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Convergence Information Technology, 2011, 6 (1), pp. 1 - 14
Issue Date:
2011-01
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Australias population is ageing, and this is placing increased stress on the national health system. There has been an increased focus on providing services that enable older people to live safely at home rather than in hospitals or retirement accommodation settings. Health-alert systems that use pendants or sensors are especially important for an increasing number of older people who live at home in rural and remote areas. This paper presents preliminary findings from a survey of 56 elderly people and 12 medical practitioners regarding the use of in-home health alert systems. The study was conceived to improve understanding of user requirements relating to in-home trauma alert systems and shed light on concerns, risks and design constraints. The preliminary findings suggest that cost is a primary limitation preventing older people from installing these systems. In addition, the findings suggest that there is a need for automatic sensor-based systems to complement existing systems that rely on the user to wear and operate a push-button pendant or other device. The results also suggest that there is an unmet demand for sensor-based systems that automatically register these events and send alerts to nominated peers in the first instance, and only send alerts to emergency services if the nominated peers failed to register a response to the alert. The study also found that older people may be opposed to camera-based systems, but are not opposed to less intrusive sensors in key areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. The surveyed medical practitioners suggested that systems that sense heart rate and oxygenation may be of particular benefit, and that potential candidates for automatic systems include people who have medical conditions such as dementia, epilepsy, cardiovascular illness, stroke, Parkinsons disease, vertigo and osteoarthritis.
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