Researchers from Canada use mHealth tech to help improve home life of seniors.
A research team at the University of Manitoba is using a $50,000 grant to develop a Smart Suite, which equips living quarters with mHealth tools and platforms designed to monitor the activities of the occupants. The purpose of the project is to enable seniors to live longer in their homes and provide care providers with extra opportunities for remote patient monitoring.
The technology will detect the occupants’ activities, time, location and more.
The Smart Suite is backed by telemedicine infrastructure and includes enhancements like Doppler radar, motion sensors and smart floor mats. The technology in the space is designed to detect location, time and frequency of movement and certain activities, such as bathing, going to the bathroom, washing hands, opening the refrigerator, resting on the living room couch or in bed.
The concept, according to the researchers, could be applied to senior living programs with the objective of keeping seniors in their own homes. It may also be beneficial to RPM programs developed by hospitals and health systems to monitor the daily activities of chronic care or patients with special needs.
“We’re building the brain of the Smart Suite,” Dr. Amine Choukou said in a press release. Choukou is the assistant professor of occupational therapy, CoRS. Choukou and the rest of the research team are creating a computer platform to compile and analyze all the data from Smart Suite sensors.
If the Smart Suite is successful, people could live independently in their homes for longer.
“This is a huge market and a huge health cost reduction for the government. If we keep people at home, they can live independently for as much time as possible and we will avoid sending them inappropriately to long-term care facilities,” Choukou said.
Once the researchers complete studies in the Smart Suite, the goal is to transfer the technology to people’s homes. The data that is collected from one home will train the computer to spot anomalies in an individual’s behavior, such as if they stop cooking or bathing.
Choukou envisions a future where doctors will gain access to data collected in a person’s smart home. The doctor will be able to review sleep patterns or look at how much time is spent standing or sitting down in front of a TV or computer and make recommendations. Choukou added that activity monitoring should be considered as a medical prescription before any decision to relocate an elderly adult to a long-term care facility is made.