Healthcare has changed in many ways in the past decade, but most rapidly since 2008's Health Care Reform passed by President Obama. While the nation's top politicians, doctors and technology companies are working around the clock to create a unified network in order to simplify the insurance process, the effectiveness of doctors and patient treatment, the personalization of care and the improvement of the nation's health. While the boomer generation may not pick up technology as fast as younger generations, there are four key ways health information technology is making it easier to be a baby boomer:
Healthier living decisions: The creation of telephone, ipad and computer apps that act as dietary or exercise databases help track decisions that affect a Boomer's health. While a healthy diet and consistent exercise help balance blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. it can be confusing and difficult for seniors to remember what they did last tuesday afternoon at the gym or how many french fries they ate when they took their grandchildren out to dinner. Apps like MyNetDiary or Calorie Tracker and GymGoal Lite or iFitness are some of the best health-decision apps to improve daily life and lead to better medical treatment decisions for boomers.
EHR tailors medical care: Similar to apps improving healthy living choices Electronic Health Records (EHR) help to personalize the recorded data and provide doctors with a more complete medical history. Patients can get the exact medications necessary for their history and their health issues. EHRs also save doctors time, hassle and space, making the visit to the doctor's office more seamless.
Less medical errors: Simply lining the pill boxes up each week isn't enough for most elderly Boomers. Having digital or printed instructions, checklists and monitoring technology will allow the medication process to be more clear (especially if a boomer's memory isn't as sharp as it used to be) and thus safer. Along with medication, doctors visits and treatments can be improved or more accurate with the feedback health IT can give. Whether the technology is a glucose monitor for boomers with diabetes or a digital heart rate monitor for those with high cholesterol or heart issues, the more accurate information the doctors can have the fewer errors they will make, thus cutting malpractice insurance and lowering insurance and medical fees.
Connectivity: as technology continues to improve, devices such as LifeAlert and other home monitoring technology can help connect boomers with their families and emergency medical care if it is needed. Enabling this proactive type of care will help keep families informed of an elder's medical issues, whether they are across town or across the country. There are also a few programs being tested now in order to alert a patient's doctor when a medical emergency occurs. This can drastically improve medical effectiveness, connectivity and expand the life expectancy and quality of boomers.
The fears that the baby boomer generation have can be calmed as improvements to health information technology and alert systems continue to develop. We can expect that the next generations will be light years ahead of practices now, and the development of health IT is helping track, monitor and protect that growth. Embrace the technology, it's a way to a better and healthier future.
About the author: George Shaw is a writer and counselor for the elderly and has an interest in the development and improvement of senior care. He currently works for Senior Homes Texas helping seniors find the right health and care solutions for them and their families.