How CAST and LeadingAge Members are Advancing Technology Adoption

| July 18, 2012

Four CAST and LeadingAge members are doing their part to advance the adoption of aging services technologies through research, advocacy and hands-on training. Check out the latest news from the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri and the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering, which are both CAST university members. LeadingAge member Riderwood retirement community and AgeTech California, a CAST affinity partner, also have good news to share.

Four CAST and LeadingAge members are doing their part to advance the adoption of aging services technologies through research, advocacy and hands-on training. Here’s the latest news.

University of Missouri Expands Monitoring Research

A Columbia, MO, assisted living community has been a fertile testing ground for wireless sensor technologies for the past 7 years. The community – called TigerPlace – is run by the Sinclair School of Nursing, a CAST member at the University of Missouri (MU). 

It is outfitted with a sensor-based monitoring system, developed by MU researchers, which tracks residents’ pulse, respiration and bed restlessness in an effort to detect changes in health status before they become health crises.

The program has been so successful at preventing serious illnesses that it is now expanding across state lines to monitor residents at an assisted living community in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The expansion was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Marilyn Rantz, a professor of nursing at MU, told InformationWeek Healthcare that embedded sensors have helped TigerPlace staff detect serious illnesses like pneumonia between 10 and 26 days before the older adult or a caregiver would notice symptoms on their own.

USC Robot: A Tireless Cheerleader

A robot named Bandit landed the University of Southern California (USC) in the national news during July. Researchers at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, a CAST member in Los Angeles, developed the assistive robot. 

Bandit made an appearance at the CAST Idea House during the 2010 LeadingAge Annual Meeting.

Bandit motivates and corrects patients as they carry out strenuous exercises. And, according to USA Today, patients are benefitting. The newspaper reports that stroke patients often work out longer with the robot than they do with a human therapist or on their own. 

“The social robot (is like) the cheerleader that never gets fatigued,” explains Mindy Aisen, chief medical officer at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in California.

USC and Rancho Los Amigos are conducting a study to compare the physical improvements experienced by stroke patients working with robots and patients working only with humans.

Riderwood Attracts 200 Participants to Digital Expo

More than 200 older adults attended a Digital World Technology Expo held in late June at Riderwood retirement community, a LeadingAge member in Silver Spring, MD. Participants, who included Riderwood residents and members of the public, learned about a variety of technology tools, including social networking, electronic health records and digital photography.

“This was the first time we held a technology expo,” says Riderwood Spokesman Mel Tansill. “The response was incredible. We hope to make this technology expo an annual event for the public and our residents.”

AgeTech California

One way to deliver more efficient health care is wider use of better technology, according to Scott Peifer, executive director of AgeTech California, an affinity partner of CAST.

“We work as an educator, a policy advocate and we want to enable strategic change,” Peifer recently told iHealthBeat. “We’re a broker of new opportunities.”

Peifer thinks that California’s Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI) will provide an unprecedented opportunity to promote aging services technologies in the Golden State. 

CCI is attempting to combine Medicare and Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) into a program that delivers better care at a lower cost. Technologies like home telehealth could go a long way toward helping the state meet those goals, says Peifer.