Five new health and caregiving technologies November 2019

LeadingAge in San Diego and more.  Entrepreneurs clearly see the opportunity for providing tech-enabled services to help care for older adults.  Large events like Leading Age, Argentum, and sub-events within CES and HIMSS all point to the business potential that draws startups as well as new offerings from existing players – in what may become an increasingly crowded market. Here five recent announcements, two from the Startup Garage at Leading Age in San Diego -- adding three others from recent press releases.  All information is drawn from the websites of the companies themselves.

Ōmcare (LeadingAge) "Ōmcare is far more than a pill sorting system with self-reported validation. With three issued patents and more pending, Ōmcare’s in-home remote dispensing and integrated care monitoring will drive a new way to measure adherence and set a new standard for care coordination that is simple, safe and easy to use. Ōmcare links remote dispensing with video confirmation such that every dispensing event is directly observed and confirmed. Caregivers know immediately if a dose is missed or incorrectly administered.  Other smart pill dispensers and mobile compliance apps depend on self-reporting rather than direct observation. Ōmcare’s approach will change how the industry measures medication adherence." Learn more at Ōmcare.

Read the full article from Aging In Place Technology Watch here.


Connected Care

Top 3 Reasons Connected Care Requires Telehealth

Interest in telehealth is increasing rapidly around the world, including here in the U.S. In fact, the telehealth market has grown over 250% since 2015 and is expected to exceed 15% CAGR* through 2025. This growth is attributed tech-enabled services and a regulatory environment that has started to embrace virtual connected care options.

The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. And while many consumers are just now becoming familiar with the term, it is most often understood as two-way video interactions with doctors or other medical professionals.

#1 - Telehealth is a conduit to enabling value based care

Telehealth has traditionally been considered by CMS as a stop-gap for people with access issues, either in rural area or constrained by limited mobility. A number of progressive health systems that are leading the shift to value based or outcomes based payment see telehealth as a critical component to keeping people healthy, especially seniors with multiple conditions who tend to be heavy utilizers.

#2 - The shortage of caregivers will strain an already strained system.

And for those in the Home Health business, incorporating more frequent remote touchpoints using video-enabled technology along with in-home visits aligns with a desire to create a tighter community of caregivers while offering a response to the new and growing shortage of qualified caregivers. By 2050, there will be 19 million Americans over the age of 85. At the same time, the number of available caregivers is projected to stay constant or decrease.

#3 - Cost avoidance and increased patient satisfaction is more possible.

Ultimately, weaving telehealth into the tapestry of the full healthcare continuum addresses everything from cost avoidance to better outcomes and greater patient satisfaction. And the data proves it. Organizations that embrace technology as a way to define patient needs and deliver personalized care will weather payment system transitions and demographic shifts much more successfully that those unwilling to see the shortcomings of the status quo.

At Ōmcare, we’re building the tele of telehealth right into our core of what we do. From connecting people to integrating a myriad of point solutions and remote monitoring technologies, we can help realize healthier, more affordable outcomes more quickly. Now, that’s healthy. In more ways than one.


What is Medication Non-adherence? Health and Financial Risks

Medication non-adherence. It’s a big problem. People are not taking the right pill at the right time. The health and financial risks associated with medication non-adherence impacts individuals, families and caregivers. Today, millions of people depend on others for their medications and, for those who manage multiple medications, it can be complicated and confusing. For many people, loved ones can’t always be there to keep track.

The Financial and Health Risks

Nearly 37% of seniors take 5 or more medications and one out of every ten seniors hospitalized are the result of the consumption of ill-timed, mistaken, or missed medication. The cost of medication non-adherence exceeds $300B and more than 125,000* deaths annually in the United States. That’s a high price to pay for both  individuals and the healthcare system more broadly.

In addition to all of this information, it’s important to call attention to the cost of non-adherence at a more personal level, as oftentimes the expense of not taking medications shows up indirectly. The National Council Medical Director Institute published a report in September, 2018 stating that “medication non-adherence accounts for 30-50 percent of treatment failures and 10-25 percent of all hospital and nursing home admissions.” A host of other expenses from the ambulance to the Emergency Room are triggered by non-adherence. These unplanned expenses can be devastating for individuals living on a fixed income, and put additional financial pressure on Medicare and other public programs.  

As it relates to better health, the cost of ill-planned or timed drug interactions means risking outcomes that could be debilitating to the patient in more ways than one. For many chronic conditions, improved health outcomes are difficult without proper adherence. A Network for Excellent in Health Innovation (NEHI) study showed that non-adherence could be tied back to an increased risk of hospitalization, while also providing evidence that mortality rate for heart disease and diabetes was 12.1 percent for non-adherence patients compared to 6.7 for adherent patients.** This is just one example of the implications of non-adherence reported in a specific population.

Reducing the Risks

So what can we do to reduce these risks? Several options are: increase access to or engaging the services of a paid caregiver, add more frequent communication with your provider to monitor your adherence activity, or find a technology-enabled medication assistance solution that your loved one can manage on their own. Since most people are reluctant to admit their shortcomings in taking their meds, it’s often unclear when non-adherence has become a liability.  

Trust in Ōmcare

That’s why Ōmcare was created: to address medication non-adherence and offer remote care solutions through simple, face-to-face interactions and monitored remote pill dispensing that  reduces the risk to financial and personal health outcomes. With Ōmcare you have remote, visual confirmation of adherence and a complete medication history that gives caregivers peace of mind, and provides better information for physicians and nurses to treat and diagnose.  

Stay up to date with the latest from Omcare and the release of the Telemed System by subscribing to our email.

Sources:

*https://www.nacds.org/news/the-cost-of-medication-non-adherence/

**Network for Excellence in Health Innovation. (2016, September). Better Uses of Medicines for Diabetes Patients. Retrieved from https://www.nehi.net/writable/publication_files/file/better_use_of_medicine_for_patients_wieth_diabetes_nehi_9.8.2016.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3934668/


Family Member vs In-Home Nurse: Pros and Cons

The big decision that many families must make when it comes to taking care of an elderly family member is when is the time, if ever, to transition them to a nursing home, often called Skilled Nursing Facilities or SNFs. For some families, nursing homes are the best option when considering all the different factors, such as cost, increasing health concerns and the willingness of the elder to move out of their home into a place that is unfamiliar.

For others, the best course of action is to have your parent/grandparent continue to live in their home and have either a family member or in-home nurse take care of them. But which option should you choose? For families facing this decision, they must look at all possible scenarios to see which works best for their elderly family member and themselves, as well as the financial implications of each option.

To help you decide what route to take, here are the pros and cons to a family member caretaker vs. an in-home nurse.

Family Member Caretaker

Pros

Increased Time with Family

Many seniors experience feelings of loneliness, and by being an active participant in their life by helping take care of them, family member caretakers can help alleviate these feelings.

Decrease Expenses

By having a family member be the primary caretaker, you can avoid paying extra money for an in-home nurse, which can be quite costly, especially if you’re having trouble using insurance to help cover some of the costs.

Cons

Not Prepared for Medical Emergency

Nurses tend to be more expensive because they are providing an important service to your family member. In the case of an emergency that you are not prepared to handle, an in-home nurse is better-equipped to act fast and appropriately to any situation.

Restricted Freedom

You may take off work and free-up your schedule to give the amount of care that is necessary for the senior in your family, but it can be hard to make sure you are available no matter when to help out. There is a certain level of restricted freedom one must expect if they choose to take on the responsibility of primary caretaker, and sometimes it can be hard to make time for yourself.

In-Home Caretaker

Pros

Full-Time Care

With a nurse, you have the assurance that at all times, your family member is in safe hands. An in-home nurse’s primary responsibility is to look out and care for their patient. You’ll free up your own time, while not having to worry that no one is home to assist your loved one.

Personal Interaction

A new caregiver will allow the senior in your family to build a new relationship, which is great for improving overall happiness and the emotional well-being of your loved one.

Cons

Expensive

Nurses can be costly, and for a good reason, as the service they are providing is extremely important. However, one must always consider the cost when it comes to bringing in a full-time in-home nurse.

Finding Quality Care Can Be Hard

This isn’t as difficult as it may have been 15 years ago, as there are plenty of resources out there to help you narrow your search and find the best fit for your family member’s needs and your own. However, you do want to make sure that you find that perfect fit, which may take some time.

Consider Ōmcare to Assist in the Caretaking of Your Loved Ones

As you can see, there are many options to consider when thinking about care - in home or otherwise for the caretaking of your loved one. As you begin to explore the vast landscape, from partially-assisted to full in-home care or on your own, you’ll benefit from knowing that there are choices. No matter which option is best for your family, Ōmcare’s Telemed System offers caregivers of all types the ability to see, speak to, and confirm appropriate medication from anywhere. This new product, launching early 2019, allows you to make sure that your loved ones are taking their prescribed medicines through a video chat interface. It even dispenses the pills to ensure they receive the right pill at the right time. When you can’t physically be there to take care of your loved one, Ōmcare still gives you a chance to be there for them.

Connect with us by subscribing to our email and stay up to date on the latest product releases and news from Ōmcare.


Aging in Place 101: A not so obvious list of Top Caregiver Resources to Try Out

The work of a caregiver is never ending. Strong resources are key to empowerment for both the caregiver and those they are caring for. And while some caregivers are just coming to learn about the effort that goes into supporting and empowering those individuals who are aging in place, others have been a formal caregiver for most of their lives. Whatever the stage, today there are a wide array of organizations and resources working to both support and recognize the work of caregivers. A foundational understanding of the caregiver tools and resources landscape can be a helpful first step to supporting the aging in place process, and for others, a good reminder too of who can truly help.

In-Home Assessment

Literally starting at home is often the best place to start. From emergency contact lists to outlining the many items related to ongoing maintenance and repair of the home, the details that need managing in addition to the caretaking of the individual themselves is yet another thing for caregivers to consider.

AARP

offers a free Home Guide Kit that includes worksheets, tips and resources (sometimes with meetings in your state)  as a way to sort thru the many items on the caretaker to do list, when staying at home is a priority.

New to the market is a well-known Best Buy. The services from electronics innovator has been refined for seniors through the new

Best Buy Assured Living

offering. Included is an extension of the blue shirt team – referred to as Advisors. Members of the Advisor team can:

  • Assess caregiving needs and help determine what's right for your family.
  • Walk individuals through the benefits of Assured Living, including tools and support from the experts at Mayo Clinic and UnitedHealthcare.
  • Act as your personal guide
  • Be another trusted resource to make living at home easier and more comfortable through the use of technology.

Organizations for Hire In-Home

The coalescence of organizations surrounding the caregiver and the individual in need of support and empowerment is growing. Today, these entities focus on assisting those who assist others while offering the sort of one-to-one care so many are seeking:

  • BrightStar Care grew out of the vision and idea that entrepreneur Shelly Sun in 2002 from one location in Gurnee, IL and today offers franchise locations across the country for in-home care and medical staffing. A deep menu of offerings underneath the categories of personal, transitional and skilled nursing care, are available to aging in place individuals and their family members.
  • Home Instead was started by Paul and Lori Hogan in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska. Paul's own family experience caring led him to realize many families could use the help of an in-home caregiver. He and Lori set about creating a company to help seniors to live independently at home. Today, the network has grown to include more than 1,000 franchises around the world -- including this office in Houston, TX.​ Consider finding a Home Instead organization within your community.

Workplace Support You’re Already Paying For

Don’t forget the resources that are often right in front of you. Many workplaces today offer counseling, support and advisory services through their Employee Assistance Program (EAP). While the callout to the caregiver may not always be self-0evident, or even an obvious menu option for all EAP’s today, it’s worth considering a call and checking into as the counseling and professional services available. As these entities often operate at the highest level in this space, providing yet another backdrop of support to you and members of your family. Additionally, they can be a good resource to a plethora of other resources.

Today, Lifeworks focuses on family as one of its 5 areas of support to employees which includes becoming a parent, child care, or caring for an older relative. While your caregiving situation is no doubt a unique one, this resource often has years of experience and staffing to help you thru your journey, wherever you’re at.

While perhaps never an easy task, supporting those aging in place can be rewarding in that is offers insight into the capabilities of others. And in the end, these are likely resources who can be a constant resource to you and your family. Sometimes filling in when you can’t assist, but other times offering the roadmap to what your role supporting aging in place looks like both now and in the future. What more might anyone ask for than that? An army of resources for aging in place at your fingertips, that’s a 101 lesson plan to get behind sooner rather than later.


E Pill vs Med Minder vs GMS Med-e-lert (+ Alternatives & Reviews)

Medication non-adherence is a serious problem. In fact, it has been linked to many poor health outcomes, including increased hospitalizations and even death. Medication non-adherence ultimately ends up costing the US healthcare system billions of dollars each year.

If you or a loved one is having trouble remembering to take their medication, or if you’re not sure they are taking them correctly, or at all, there is technology available to combat medication non-adherence. We’re going to breakdown three options for you, as well as an alternative to consider.

E-Pill Medsmart Automatic Pill Dispenser

The E-Pill Medsmart Automatic Pill Dispenser is a reliable option for those who are affected by medication non-adherence. The device is split up into different sections for each set of pills that make a circle, which rotates into place when it is time to take a pill. The dispenser will then emit a loud sound as well as a blinking light. Simply flip the device over and the pills will fall into your hands.

The dispenser is AC powered with a battery backup, and an alarm will sound when the battery is low. When it’s time to take a pill, the E-Pill Medsmart Automatic Pill Dispenser is easy to use, can hold up to 20 aspirin-sized pills at a time per compartment, and can be purchased upfront, with no monthly fees.

“My mom is 89 years old and has a lot of trouble remembering when to take her pills. With the MedSmart pill dispenser that problem has gone away. If the red light is on and the alarm is sounding she knows it is time to take her pills, if not there are no pills in the window and she knows it is not time for her pills. The only regret I have is that I didn't buy this earlier.” - via Amazon Reviews

MedMinder - Jon Pill Dispenser

While at first glance, it might appear that the MedMinder Jon Pill Dispenser is a regular pill calendar dispenser, there is much more behind these device. The dispenser features locking sections, and will only grant users to the correct compartments at correct dosage times, so there is no worry of anyone overdosing.

The Jon Pill Dispenser’s defining feature is that it enables interconnection between the user, their family, and the caregiver. The Jon locking pill dispenser can update MedMinder’s central computer about the patient’s dosage activity, which will then be readily available online for caregivers who can also receive immediate email or text message notifications and weekly reports.

MedMinder Review

“Just want to say how awesome the med minder is! My mother has beginning dementia and AFIB, which messes with her mind and takes 74 pills a day. The MedMinder keeps her on a timely schedule which keeps her med levels more consistent. She is doing better health wise and it gives me peace of mind knowing she doing everything right when I don’t get a text or call.” - via MedMinder website

GMS Med-e-lert

The GMS Med-e-lert is similar to the E-Pill dispenser, but it does feature a clear cover, which helps the user see when they need to refill the device. A couple of  new features for the latest model of the dispenser include the unit retaining program settings when the user needs to change batteries and a six alarms per day maximum, which is the same for the E-Pill. Unlike the E-Pill, the GMS Med-e-lert runs solely on AA batteries.

GMS Med-e-lert Review

“Med-e-lert solved my mother's medicine taking problem. Before Med-e-lert, she was forgetting to take her medicine at the assigned times and would occasionally become confused and double dose since all pills were available on her old pill box. All problems solved with this product. It was easy to program and has not jammed or malfunctioned since purchasing it weeks ago. The alarm feature successfully nags Mom until she takes her medicine. I highly recommend this product.” via Amazon Reviews.

Alternative Pill Dispensers (Ōmcare Telemed System)

Just like with these companies, here at Ōmcare, we too understand the significance of medication non-adherence and the effect it has on millions of people every year. That’s why we created the Ōmcare Telemed System with video chat interface.

This product, which will be hitting the market soon, offers caregivers the ability to see, speak to, and confirm appropriate medication from anywhere. The easy-to-use Ōmcare Telemed System enables remote care and visual confirmation of right pill, right time, right person.  We want your loved one to feel empowered, not monitored - giving you peace of mind, as if you were right there with them.

Features include:

  • 3-way calling capabilities
  • Easy, one-touch call interface for end-users
  • Medication dispensing, consumption assistance and support
  • Remote in-home telehealth care
  • Longitudinal data with medication adherence confirmation
  • EHR integration to support physician directives
  • Ability to dispense multi-dose pouch packaged medication

If you’re interested in making your or a loved one’s life easier by avoiding medication non-adherence, then make sure you keep an eye out for the Omcare Telemed System. Subscribe to our email list to stay up to date on latest updates on the release of this new device!


Download Your Personal Daily Medication Chart (Tips & Alternatives)

Managing medications is not just a daily task, in many ways it’s a never-ending one. Keeping track of what you’re taking can be managed in so many different ways, but which one is best? First, consider what works best for you. Then think about how it might work for someone else to support your daily medication charting efforts. Having the ability to share and show others the way you’re managing your daily medications can be helpful to you and your appointed caregivers. Whether your caregiver is a member of your family or a more formal resource, like a hospital staff member or home health nurse, the ability to share your daily medication chart should be considered when you review the types of charts and tools available to you.

Here are 3 medication charts to consider when managing your daily medication:

1. Paper Might Work Best for You: ePill - FREE

Charts that offer the opportunity to write down, cross off and track the medication you’re taking still works best for many individuals. It’s always easy to look at the item in front of you and put your own information into it in a way that you best understand. Plus, all of the organizing is already done because you just have to fill in the information, on the already designed grid. Unlike other tools though, paper isn’t always as easily shared, so consider who is helping you out each day and what might also be a good way to show this individual your tracking proof too.

2. Electronic Templates Offer Access for All: Best Templates - $12

Tracking your log over time can be another way to monitor the way you’ve taken your meds vs. how they were intended to be taken. Best Templates offers downloadable versions that makes sharing with other easy, in addition to having a log for yourself to review over time.

3. Apps Work Well for Many: MyMedSchedule.com - FREE

With your phone already at your fingertips, the ability to chart the medications you take can be logged and recorded easily and quickly. The MyMed Schedule app allows you to type in and then find the medication you’re taking within its data listing, making set up easy. Establishing reminders by individual medications can then happen to help ensure there’s not a crossover of taking a medication at the wrong time.

Whatever choice you might make for your personal Daily Medication Chart, a top priority remains - taking the right pill, at the right time. More and more, the medications we’re each taking have benefits of their own impacted by combination with another drug. And so tracking, charting, recording and then sharing the information is more important than ever.
The Ōmcare Telemed System will be available in 2019 enabling remote medication adherence assistance which will put an end to paper charts and reminder apps. Sign up to our email list to receive more information on availability and system features.