Connecting tech to a caring profession must be a dialogue

Let the present medical profession, with all its excess costs, have full control of this market and you will strangle it in its crib.

Over at SmartPlanet I have a piece out today on a medical study of remote monitoring technology.

It's a good first step. And most of their recommendations are fairly generic. That is, they sound generic, except for one thing.

They're about control.

A large team under Hyun Gu Kang of CalPoly Pomona considers this the first of what should be several reports on benefits and problems with remote monitoring technology.

But they need to be part of a dialogue. Let the present medical profession, with all its excess costs, have full control of this market and you will strangle it in its crib.

Remote monitors are a technology I have been covering for many years. Any device that tells caregivers what a patient is up to, how their parts are working, can help them dose the hands-on care that is going to become more-and-more expensive over time.

It's labor shortage we should be looking at long-term, not unemployment. As baby boomers age, wherever they do it, the value of any labor is going to go up. The more of it you can forego, the more affordable the solution becomes.

Some folks can do well just knowing how their heart or blood sugar is doing. Data on exercise and sleep patterns helps people give better counsel by phone or (most likely) videophone. Tracking someone's day can even help keep an Alzheimer's patient in their home longer, by supporting hard-pressed family members.

This is a continuum of technology, most of it cheap as chips, easily affordable by an aging senior. It's the medical profession that must adapt to us, not we to them.

The savings come from keeping people out of the growing number of senior care facilities being built around the country. These centers become necessary when technology can't do the job for you. The more we delay that, the longer you'll live like my mom does, which is the way she wants to.

The problem is that the savings disappear when too many bureaucrats get involved in the design, or act as gatekeepers, and from a business model perspective that's what medical professionals become, bureaucrats.

The recommendations:

  • Providers should control the technology and not be controlled by it.
  • Systems need to be easy to use, even when eyes can't see tiny buttons, ears can't hear complex instructions, or I've fallen and can't get up. Extensive testing on real people before marketing makes this work.
  • Policymakers need to get involved, and money has to be available to buy this stuff.
  • Regulations among professions involved in care need to work together.

What that tells me is you're going to have a monitoring system that costs $50 to make and nothing to install turn into a $500/month service, and that's going to cut the market at the knees.

Let's see if we can avoid that.