Key Takeaways:

Health tech and digital tools are the up and coming age tech resources to help assist with aging in place, caregiving, and outpatient care. Learn how digital resources can help make people healthier as they age.

The pandemic brought some of the most innovative uses and resources in health tech to the forefront of healthcare. In the heat of the pandemic, we saw the impact a lack of medical professionals, and caregivers, made on ill patients. Unfortunately, the situation just got worse during the pandemic with nearly 1 in 5 healthcare workers quitting. To keep people safe and to help offset the burden on medical care professionals many health organizations turned to health tech. This included using telemedicine and health tech devices to help connect and monitor outpatient care.

More and more people will need care as they age. With a global caregiver shortage and fewer healthcare workers than just a few years ago, we need to start to think about scalable solutions. We need to use the resources we already have available to fill this ever-growing care gap.

Health Tech and Digital Tools for Outpatient Care

People are getting older and by 2035 over 21% of the population will be over 65 and there will be more older adults than kids. A recent AARP study showed that 77% of people want to remain in their homes as they age. Luckily, health tech makes aging in place more manageable and affordable for many people.

With such a large percentage of the population getting older that also means that most of the consumer spending power will be in this market. It will be essential that healthcare and outpatient services keep up with this growing market. People will be looking for practical solutions to address their healthcare needs and assist them with aging in place. Many will turn to the internet and technology thanks to its convenience. This is a huge opportunity for healthcare providers to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.

According to Pew Research, 91% of Gen Xers, 85% of Boomers, and 62% of Silents use the internet. Virtual classes can be used to improve outcomes in a myriad of areas from onboarding to assuring health literacy and disease management. Customized live interactive virtual classes will allow patients to ask questions. This will cut down on call centers and allow health providers to onboard patients to their health plan, help them navigate processes and procedures for care coordination and management. Virtual classes allow for visuals, questions, and a simple way for all stakeholders to effortlessly attend. Considering these can be done for groups of people at a time members and others can pick times that are convenient for them without significantly increasing cost.  

Ongoing live and interactive classes can help teach patients how to continually manage their care and adhere to their care plan. As people adjust to services for aging in place they can understand the benefits, ask questions, and manage their health better. Opportunities are even available to start managing care ahead of time as the benefits could pay off down the road with healthier members.

When people can better understand how to maximize and use telehealth, health tech devices like smartwatches, and other monitors, they can also self-report to doctors and better understand when personal visitations are needed. This would help reduce the cost of unnecessary doctor's visits while allowing medical professionals and family stakeholders to monitor vitals post-surgeries and throughout recovery. Commonly when medical professionals only see a patient once they may miss heart arrhythmias or other issues that may be happening outside of those appointments. By utilizing health tech and telehealth effectively, both medical professionals and patients can better predict and mitigate health problems. 

Digital tools and virtual classes provide preventative healthcare

Multiple Medicare plans are already offering preventative healthcare services like virtual classes to members. In 2022 eligible SilverSneakers members gained access to GetSetUp classes at no cost to them. GetSetUp's live interactive classes on health and wellness, technology, and enrichment activities help address all the social determinants of health. Classes are taught by peers and provide opportunities for learning, socialization, and enrichment. Special class series offer insights into Health Tech like how to use telehealth or a smartwatch. Other series like Digital Tools for Caregivers can help caregivers with care management and home health. Best of all virtual tools allow people with special needs and accessibility issues equitable learning and socialization opportunities without having to leave their homes. As healthcare professionals and providers look to reduce costs, decrease transportation, and assure adherence to care plans, virtual programs can help. They create better health equity by providing patients with resources and access to medical professionals from the comfort of their homes.

While telehealth and telemedicine must follow strict HIPAA guidelines, many care management, home health, and aging-in-place resources can be made easily accessible without all the red tape. There are infinite ways for health tech and digital resources to be used to enhance health and well-being as people age. They can provide people with the tools they need to help prevent or manage long-term care, help improve health literacy, and improve CMS ratings through member access to information and wellness activities.

Crucial to effective implementation is finding a safe, easy-to-use, and reliable source for virtual classes. Eight out of 10 people surveyed consider GetSetUp a reliable source to learn about advances in health technology. Plus GetSetUp already has the largest catalog of senior-specific classes with over 4,000 different classes. Many of its health and wellness classes encourage simple shifts in diet and exercise. When these changes are encouraged in a safe and empowering community of fellow learners, the outcomes can save health care providers millions, especially when compared to people who canÔÇÖt access these tools and may suffer from isolation and loneliness, which are major factors in aging decline. To prove the impact around a third of people surveyed by GetSetUp said their interactions with medical professionals had reduced since starting GetSetUp.

There are so many opportunities to utilize resources that appeal to the population and assist them in staying healthier, managing chronic disease, and allowing them to age in place more effectively. IsnÔÇÖt it time that healthcare providers offer virtual resources and digital health resources to members as a matter of course?

Posted 
May 17, 2022
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Classes by:

Liz Miller

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