The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Nursing has partnered with a local telecommunications company to develop a new mobile health management app for the elderly.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The app, which connects to a health monitoring device, alerts a nurse or caregiver when it detects abnormalities in an elderly user’s vital signs, such as blood pressure or blood glucose levels, enabling early intervention, according to the press release.
It also has 24/7 nurse interaction where a user can simply start a video call with their nurse at any time to seek support or assess their mental and physical condition.
The mobile health app was tested on nearly 200 elderly participants with chronic conditions at five Hong Kong Lutheran Social Service aged care centers.
Results of a pilot study showed significant increases in self-efficacy, reductions in depression rates and medical service utilization, and improvements in participants’ quality of life between three and six months of use. . Unscheduled GP visits also fell by 72% after three months of using the app.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Hong Kong’s population is aging rapidly. In 2021, people aged 65 and over made up 20% of the city’s total population, up from just 13% a decade earlier. The average age of the population is 46.3, up from 41.7 in 2011. The WHO has previously predicted that four out of 10 Hong Kong residents will be 65 or older by 2050.
This trend is expected to have an impact on public health, as it implies that more people will seek care for their chronic conditions. The management of the hospital estimated that the number of patients with chronic diseases will reach three million by 2039.
An approach that combines nursing support with digital technology could ease the pressure caused by such an increase in demand for public medical services, said Dr. Ankers Wong, an assistant professor in PolyU’s School of Nursing, who also led research on the mobile health app.
Their research team is now looking to add more features to the app, such as AI and personalized content, to convince older users to continue using the app.
Outside Asia, Telstra Health in Australia last year launched a mobile app for elderly care called Guardian. The cloud-based application enables staff to view, photograph and document resident care in real-time via a mobile device.