No more technological chaos in the care of the elderly. Today the ECG monitor, sphygmomanometer and the intelligent pill dispenser operate on different systems. The researchers Stefan Wagner (left) and Finn Overgaard Hansen have contributed to the development of a joint European digital marketplace for welfare applications (Photo: Henrik Olsen)
Employees in the care and nursing sector will receive a helping hand for everything from medication and distribution of tasks to tele-medicine with a new, open software platform for welfare apps.
Automatic door openers, fall detectors, intelligent sphygmomanometers, medication systems and blood sugar alarms. These are just a few examples of the electronic devices that have been introduced in home care in recent years, each connected to their own isolated computer system and unable to communicate with one another.
Technological chaos at home with the elderly
This gives rise to such a large technical burden that the municipalities opt out of many of the solutions.
“During the last few years there has been a boom in the development of tele-medicine solutions that are capable of making the individual citizen more self-sufficient. These solutions are necessary elements in a technology based care and nursing sector. But right now it looks more like a chaotic mix of devices and control systems that neither the elderly nor the care assistants have any chance of operating,” says Stefan Wagner, assistant professor at Aarhus University.
But now help is on the way. In close collaboration with the IT company Sekoia ApS, researchers have developed a new open source platform for technological welfare apps. Named CareStore, it gathers all electronic aids so that they are able to communicate with one another across systems and providers.
Digital market place for welfare apps
The first prototype of the platform has been successfully tested in Denmark. The goal is now to develop a digital marketplace for the entire European nursing sector where businesses will be able to offer applications for their tele-medicine products in accordance with a common digital standard in the future.
The key to a well-functioning, technology based nursing sector is to have systems that are capable of handling several electronic units in a simple way.
”Instead of ten isolated systems, we can now make do with one single system. This makes it far more simple for the elderly person. The nursing staff can look forward to more efficient working procedures and the local authorities can expect an optimal utilisation of their investments in new electronic equipment”, says Stefan Wagner.
Today there are between three and ten different welfare technological appliances in a normal assisted care home and that number is expected to increase. Each appliance operates on its own system and is not designed to communicate with other appliances. This makes it hard to exploit the full potential of the technology.
CareStore offers a solution to this problem. It is a system and an open platform that bring together all the tele-medicine product applications.
In the future, companies will be able to offer new applications for their products in accordance with a common standard similar to those that we already know from e.g. iTunes.
In practice, the system only requires the installation of a touch-screen with built-in computer in the individual assisted care home. It then recognises and installs the different devices and connects the equipment to the person who lives there automatically.