Japan as aging bellwether: experiential VR, claim that robots increase activity by 50 percent

Japan’s population is the oldest on average in the world, with over 27 percent of its population aged over 65 and the highest average life expectancy at 83.7 years. Writer Shiho Fukada spent a year researching aging tech supported by the Pulitzer Center. In STAT, he profiles innovation in two areas we’ve highlighted previously: VR experiences for those who are restricted in their mobility and the effect of robots in elder care.

Bringing experiences to the older person. A Tokyo therapist, Kenta Toshima, takes videos of his travels to 29 countries and 55 cities, then shares them with his patients on a smartphone mounted on an inexpensive cardboard viewer to simulate full VR. His concept, Virtually Able, has positive results and he is trying to develop a study. Yet in the US, Dr. Sonya Kim has been developing this in a commercial model via OneCaringTeam and Aloha VR.  [TTA 21 Nov 16 and 11 Nov 17These VR experiences for residents of long-term care are being researched for easing anxiety, increasing positive feelings, stimulation, and connectedness in older people with mobility difficulties or dementia, with Cedars-Sinai in LA evaluating VR for pain reduction with mixed results.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Pepper-daughter.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Robotics in monitoring and connectedness. It’s another look at Palro and Pepper [TTA 24 Oct 17], this time in action at the Flos Higashi-kojiya Senior Care Facility in Tokyo, at a nursing home run by the Social Welfare Corporation of Tokyo Seishinkai, and in a home with an older couple. Robots, as we’ve noted, are stepping in the care and connectedness gap.

  • For older adults living at home by themselves, interactive robots like Pepper can aid with tasks but as you’ll see in the video, the wide-eyed Pepper becomes a ‘daughter-bot’ (left and above from the video) that remarkably increases engagement between this older couple in a typically crowded Japanese home.
  • In Japan, as in the West, there’s a shortage of care staff able to engage with residents in senior living. In the video, Palro struts across a table to the admiration of a group of older women in assisted living and leads them in an exercise routine.
  • In a Tokyo nursing home, a Guardian desktop robot not only monitors the well-being of patients in nursing care using audio and video, but also communicates interactively with the patient to give a feeling of personal attention and encouragement. Mr. Fukada at 06:14 quotes a study that residents living with robots are 50 percent more active and that 70 percent without robots are less active, but unfortunately this is not footnoted.

What is evident is that Japan continues to pioneer in robotics for care of older adults and in general (CES), but the takeup in other countries, with some exception for Europe, is not that great–yet. Previously in TTA: Japan’s workarounds for adult care shortage, Japan’s hard lessons on an aging population

 

My Jawbone saga just got much worse: UP3

Readers may recall this editor’s most recent blast against Jawbone in which I complained about being emailed by them about a product I couldn’t buy. Well in due course I got a nice email from Jawbone, explaining the error and extolling the UP3, that I could buy. So nice that I relented and bought one.

Big mistake: my three UP bracelets that failed have lasted an average of some seven months each. The UP3 lasted just eight days before it stopped recording sleep correctly (an even shorter time than the two weeks the preproduction UP3 took to stop working when on trial by re/code).

Initial problem handling by Jawbone support has always been good – I can only assume they get lots of practice – and indeed I got an email straight back telling me how to do a ‘soft reset’ (These have never worked for me for any of the problems I’ve had, with either UP type of bracelet; perhaps it gets some people to give up.). When I told them it hadn’t worked, this was followed quickly by an email 10 working days ago telling me that they were referring my problem to colleagues and to expect a response within 2-3 working days.

Since when nothing: my emails have gone unresponded to, and I have heard nothing further. If this poor quality is the experience of others too (certainly some), then it’s clearly no wonder why FierceMobileHealthcare refer to Jawbone as one of six companies collectively making up 15 percent of the market with Apple & Fitbit way ahead.

It’s such a shame too, because in spite of the problems, my Jawbones, when they have worked, have been great motivators that have helped me lose over 12 kilos now – unlike the suggestions in the recent Guardian artcle, I’m sold on being nudged. I just need something I can rely on to nudge me!

What can the US learn from the UK’s approach to healthcare?

The Guardian article recently published an article entitled “What the NHS can learn from the US Obamacare system” which disappointingly spends almost all of its text talking about the challenges of implementing Obamacare, and just a few sentences espousing three very weak lessons, the first of which  is:

…Obamacare had a clear overarching goal: reduce the number of uninsured. Who can stand up and make such a clear case for the Health and Social Care Act 2012?

The rest are (go to DHACA website to read more)

Can the NHS be in crisis when they want to waste money like this?

The Guardian had a headline yesterday: “GPs to be offered £1bn in new funds if they improve access and elderly care” Upon reading further it transpires that £250m pa is to be offered for the next four years. A clue to the rationale and preferred direction of the monies is:

“NHS England believes using the £1bn to transform existing GP surgeries and build some new premises will help reduce the pressure on hospitals buckling under the strain of unprecedented demand.”

Telehealth & Telecare Aware believes that this is totally the wrong approach. Given the huge increases in the popularity of remote consultation as we covered in our review of our 2014 predictions, surely the right focus for additional funding is to provide substantial incentives to get GPs using existing technology to consult with patients remotely? This should be allied with an advertising campaign to point out the benefits to patients of not having to visit a surgery or exchange germs with others in the waiting room plus offer reassurance that face to face appointments will always be available if the doctor thinks one is necessary.

One way to start might be for the NHS to do deals with organisations like GP Access to offer technology like their askmygp to all GP surgeries for free and give large financial incentives to GPs conducting remote consultations with more than an agreed percentage of the patients on their books by year end…then raise that percentage every year for the next four years. That has got to be far cheaper than building works that will anyway become redundant soon because attitudes are changing and people will be preferring remote consultation shortly anyway! It would be much quicker to implement too.

In mitigation, the article also mentions that surgeries, apparently also “will also be expected to make much better use of technology to monitor patients’ health as a way of reducing their need to seek direct care from a doctor.” However that sounds more like a tepid endorsement of telehealth than encouragement to be radical.

Hat tip to Mike Clark

At last a supportive article on telehealth! (UK)

Richard Vize has written a highly-recommended article in the Guardian today entitled “GPs continue to do battle with government over telehealth”. This gives some valuable context to why publications such as Pulse continue to dredge up the historic Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) cost/QALY statistics as it did on Wednesday and  Thursday last week.

TTA readers will of course be aware of the reasons why those figures are so unrepresentative of the technology from our recent post on why it’s time to bid farewell to the WSD.

Particularly pleasing is to see recognition of the role of telehealth as a means of promoting wider improvement in the way care is delivered:

“Eventually, other costs will start to fall as telehealth becomes a catalyst for wider system change. At present it is a bolt-on to a care system poorly integrated and not adapted for telehealth. It will require clinicians to work together in new ways, particularly in more effective joint working between community and hospital staff.”