Prof Martin Curley
Chair, Irish Digital Health Leadership Steering Group
Digital falls prediction, prevention and detection can save lives and money.
Digital health is recognised as a new discipline combining health, digital technology, genomics, demographics and economics to create a new discipline that creates 10X benefits for citizens, patients and clinicians.
Care for older people
One area of promise is providing better care to seniors.
A living lab between Limerick-based Alwayswithyou and Comfort Keepers is providing a hospital-at-home service to over 20 seniors, allowing them to be safe in their homes. It provides onsite and virtual care at a fraction of the cost of keeping a senior in the hospital. It is estimated that 80% of lifetime healthcare costs occur in the last two years of a person’s life.
Demographics are going in the wrong direction; and currently, Ireland and other countries are on a trajectory to not have enough hospital beds or carers for older people. This is where the 10X capability of digital solutions can step in.
It is estimated that 80% of lifetime healthcare costs occur in the last two years of a person’s life.
Prevention of falls
One particular area of concern and opportunity is the area of falls. In Ireland, it is estimated that falls cost the state about 1 billion per year. However, more concerning is that one in every five falls results in death; and for one in every three falls, the person does not return home.
HSE Digital Transformation is setting up an integrated living lab to focus on fall prediction, prevention and detection. We estimate that we could reduce falls by 30% with a reduction in cost and significant improvement in quality of life.
Collaborating for safety
With Tunstall Emergency Services in Bunclody and Pandu, we already have a living lab with 300 Irish seniors wearing a PanPan falls detection watch. It can immediately detect a fall, triggering an immediate call to check on their condition. If no response is received, an emergency callout can be scheduled with the GPS coordinates from the watch.
We are also working with Kinesis, an Irish falls company that provides a fall prediction and prevention service and plan to expand the living lab. By holding their mobile phone to their chest, a senior can perform a 30-second balance test and inform them and their GP of their probability of falling. Pre-recorded exercises are also available in the Kinesis app to help them improve their balance.
The integrated value proposition of these solutions aligns with the Irish Digital Health Strategy ‘Stay Left, Shift Left – 10X’ and will bring significant 10X benefits to citizens, patients and clinicians alike.