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Technology solutions can help increase access, enhance quality, and improve coordination of services for older adults and individuals with disabilities. These innovative approaches take on many forms and address a variety of issues. Examples of technology solutions include virtual “visits” with providers through videoconferencing and other applications; remote monitoring and sensing to detect changes in consumer health that may require attention; support for care coordination and care transitions across settings; support for caregivers; and more. Two examples of technology solutions that impact older adults and individuals with disabilities are being implemented in Massachusetts: InstaAid and Care at Hand.

InstaAid was developed by MIT students in partnership with residents of The Boston Home to help residents remain both independent and safe. This unique technology provides a mobile nurse call system that allows residents to contact nurses for assistance from wherever they are via an application on Apple tablet computers. The Boston Home serves adults with advanced Multiple Sclerosis and other progressive neurological diseases. Margaret Marie (pictured), a resident of The Boston Home, worked closely with three MIT students and other residents to tailor the app to the environment and the residents’ physical and cognitive needs.

Care at Hand aims to reduce hospital readmissions using a mobile care coordination application. Non-clinical workers, such as health coaches and home care workers, use the app to administer “smart surveys,” which detect adverse health events and in turn notify the patient’s clinical care team of the need for intervention. After implementing Care at Hand, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. saw a 39.6% reduction in their consumers’ 30-day readmissions. Trained health coaches use the technology during home visits to recently discharged Medicare consumers. The application suggests questions using straightforward, non-medical language for the health coaches to ask consumers based on their diagnoses, treatment, and risk profile. If the health coach inputs answers that show signs of worsening health status, the application notifies a nurse care coordinator in real-time.

Technology solutions create real opportunities to support older adults and individuals with disabilities in a variety of ways. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs is excited about the many possibilities.

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