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mHealth Apps Aid Remote Monitoring of Elderly Patients

The use of mHealth apps has strong potential to mitigate health risks of elderly patients through remote monitoring

mHealth apps, remote monitoring can potentially mitigate health risk

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- mHealth apps designed at the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) may soon provide remote monitoring solutions that can provide better care choices for treating elderly patients.

Using a smartphone secured to the patient with a chest strap, the software uses CDC standardized tests for mobility and is able to record movement data that is uploaded to an elderly patient’s EHR.

Over time, the data in the EHR would allow physicians to detect patterns in patient mobility at such a detailed level that providers could even predict when patients will fall or when they are likely to experience a stroke.

UAH researchers collaborated with Huntsville’s Center for Aging and the UAH’s College of Nursing to test the monitoring device in patient populations aged 70 to 90 and over. The researchers found the monitor could play a vital role in a Center for Aging program that educates older adults about how to improve their mobility and stability.

A mHealth monitoring solution such as this provides a mobile and fluid solution for elderly care for all stakeholders in care environments.

Mobility is a key indicator of possible health conditions for the rising elderly population in the US. Being able to detect trends in elderly mobility at granular levels allows caregivers and providers to adjust treatment methods and medication.

"In the case of strokes, you have changes in both speed and stability," explained Dr. Jovanov, Director of Real-Time Physiological Monitoring Lab at University of Alabama Huntsville. "Very often, a sequence of small strokes signals that a big stroke is coming. If you detect early the effects of the smaller strokes, then the physician may be able to prevent the big stroke."

The team added that monitoring can also drive better care decisions through an extended suite of applications. These applications include advanced future fall prediction, data-informed prescribing decisions that may help mitigate negative side-effects of drugs, and evaluation tools to assess the overall strength and wellness of patients.

"The idea is that one day, you will be able to walk into your local Walgreens or CVS and purchase these devices inexpensively, or install the application on your smartphone," Jovanov said. "They will help you to become proactive and more engaged and work with your physician to create a personalized medical monitoring and recording program that will help you to assess and improve your health and wellbeing.” 

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