Longevity Network
  • Dec 19, 2016
  • Jeffrey Fry

Guest Voices: Jeffrey Fry of WellBeyondCare on Wearable Technology in Geriatric Care

Guest Voices: Jeffrey Fry of WellBeyondCare on Wearable Technology in Geriatric Care

Technology has helped with many things in healthcare, but wearables are not the silver bullet that everyone thinks they will be with our aging population.

First a disclaimer: I am a technologist.  As an electrical engineer, I was fortunate enough to work with other engineers who pioneered digital mobile phones, video compression technology, broadband communications in cable and via telephone lines, and WiFi.  Yes, I have been in the trenches and have relished making cool and neat technology that has been a boon to individuals, our communities and businesses.  At the same time, I do not believe in making technology for technology’s sake.   For as many great successes there have been in moving technology and its applications forward, there have been ten times as many failures, dead ends, and false promises.

Why is that?  Usually it is because the technological solution developed is made for a problem that either does not exist, or fails to offer a solution which adequately addresses the difficulty at hand.  And in most cases, that problem usually requires more than a spot solution and is generated due to the inconsistencies or incongruities found in some sort of complex, closed loop system.  When dealing with complex systems, you need to look at the problem as a whole.  Complex systems are usually comprised of autonomous, but interrelated and interdependent components and are linked through a myriad of dense and loose connections.  They are hard to describe by any one rule and are not reducible to any single description.  While these systems exhibit observable properties from the interaction of their parts, they offer no true prediction from the property of their parts. From this complexity, engineers attempt to offer closed loop feedback simulations to help calculate the characteristics of the model and make it more predictable. Put data in, get data out.  But data alone does not solve problems or offer solutions.

Now you can start to understand the messy business of dealing with healthcare, and in particular, the caring for the aging population in America.  People are often unpredictable, unreliable, and undependable. This includes not only those who need care (the elderly), but often times the caregivers themselves.  Modeling this behavior has been a difficulty since the advent of modern medicine.

So, when some company says that a certain technology, say wearables, is going to revolutionize caregiving and geriatric outcomes, I have to look at what impact that will in have in the overall system.

I am not saying that wearables are a bad idea, they just will not have the impact that companies are touting and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to promote.  By themselves, they are just a little better than useless. Collecting data for data’s sake is not a solution, but in itself creates more problems, such as data interoperability, what data is important, privacy and HIPPA concerns, doctor availability to interpret data, etc.  not to mention the obvious items of battery life, failure to wear the device, and costs (in the device itself and monthly fees).

Instead of touting these new gadgets, companies should be seeing how they can be better integrated in offering improved outcomes, reduce emergent events for the geriatric population, and aid in the quality of life for seniors to age in place.  Right now wearables can record your body temperature and heart rate. But you still need someone to weigh a person daily and record blood pressure.  In some wearable models, they can help the elderly with wandering, and remind you to take your pills, but do little to insure changing behavior, such as eating better, exercising or helping with activities for daily living.  These things are best augmented by a caregiver.

So, instead of investing millions of dollars in wearables, it would behoove companies to start making devices and services that help caregivers give better care or extend the care they are already giving to their elderly parents or clients.  I do believe that a coordinated effort of using new technologies with improvement of caregiving resources will not only save families worry, heartache and money, but allow the elderly to stay safely in their homes and save the industry billions of dollars in reducing needless medical expenses and resources.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Fry has over thirty (30) years of work experience beginning in the high tech industry, and over the last 10 years, helping over two dozen startups initiate, develop, and market their products and services. Mr. Fry is a huge advocate of personal empowerment, and during these past 10 years, has helped numerous individuals achieve their dreams of success both personally and financially.

Mr. Fry is the instigator behind Well Beyond Care, an online caregiving matching service. While most private duty care is administered by agencies, Well Beyond Care teaches and guides a careseeker (a senior or their children) on hiring their own caregiver. It combines the best in caregiver hiring (matching, screening, ratings & background checks) with all the back office functions (verified time worked, payroll, scheduling, and documentation) to insure safe, reliable, dependable, affordable care is obtained.  Each careseeker has access to their own local, personal Nurse 24/7 to help guide them and give them advice on healthcare options. It is the only company to aid with transitional care. Easy to use, and free to join, the company ensures that there is a rightness of fit in the Care-Pair by empowering caregivers and those looking for care.

In addition to being a co-founder of Well Beyond Care, Mr. Fry operates Profit Prophet, a consulting concern aimed at helping startups move from concept into revenues and profits; and manages SEDA RICO and Firefly Funds, two investment companies. Mr. Fry re­ceived his BS in Electrical Engineering from Lafayette College, and attended St. Edwards University as part of his Master’s of Business Administration studies.

To learn more about Well Beyond Care, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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