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Wisconsin Program to Study Telehealth, mHealth for Senior Care

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is partnering with Heritage Senior Living to study the use of innovative telehealth and mHealth platforms for coordinating and managing care in senior living centers.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is partnering with a network of senior living centers to test telehealth and mHealth platforms for senior care.

UWM’s Partners for Health Program is working with Heritage Senior Living to enable students from the College of Health Sciences and College of Nursing to study the use of virtual reality, mHealth devices, telehealth programs and a social robot named Jibo at Heritage centers. West Allis, Wisc.-based Heritage operates 15 senior living communities in the state.

The Partners for Health program brings together students from the College of Nursing, College of Health Science and Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health to address challenges in today’s healthcare system. In this partnership, five students will participate in a two-semester practicum during clinical hours and receive course credit for their research. In the fall of 2019, the program will expand to include speech, occupational and physical therapy students.

The students will work with new technology to address key pain points in senior living, including transfer trauma, transitions, fall prevention, and loneliness and depression.

“We want to ensure that our students join the workforce armed with knowledge of the best practices for using technological tools that can improve care to seniors,” Kim Litwack, dean of the UWM College of Nursing, said in a press release.

“At Heritage Senior Living, we’re always looking for ways to lead the healthcare industry and efforts to move away from a social model to a medical model of care in senior living communities,” added Jaime Schwingel, Heritage Senior Living’s Vice President of Quality and Clinical Operations. “The research will help drive future technological initiatives for Heritage Senior Living and encourage nursing and therapy students to consider careers working with the nation’s largest growing population.”

The partnership will test a wide range of connected health tools and platforms that aim to improve care management and coordination for seniors living at home or in senior living centers.

Among them is Jibo, one of several robots being developed for the healthcare space. mHealth experts say robots armed with AI technology can provide companionship for lonely seniors, remind them of upcoming appointments and when to take their medications, and offer an instant link to one’s care team in an emergency.

Beyond robots, healthcare providers and senior and assisted living centers are looking at telehealth platforms – including digital personal assistants like Alexa, specially designed laptops, smart devices in the home and even connected health platforms within a TV or entertainment system – to connect seniors with their care teams and coordinate care when needed.


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