Can mHealth provide the solution to the shortage of Elder Care specialists?

In between claims that mHealth is only needed in parts of the world “where there are only cell phones” and enthusiasm for expensive bespoke healthcare “appliances” to meet the needs of aging modern societies I think there’s widespread ignorance of the senior mHealth opportunity, something that is really easy to appreciate when you consider the issues of medical specialist recruitment in the elder care market.

In an article in yesterdays New York Times Paula Span has done a great job of highlighting these and as a continuing trend across the world there are very few who feel that recruitment drives alone even have a chance of stemming these trends. Fortunately there’s a massive opportunity for mHealth to make this area of clinical speciality more attractive to students, more rewarding to professionals and more efficient so that care providers have more time and resources to allocate to caring.

Make sure you have an understanding of the scale of these problems:

So here we are with 6,000 geriatricians, a number that’s actually declining. That amounts to one medical specialist for every 2,000 Americans over age 75, a group about to get much larger very quickly. It’s not a good ratio

Mr. Christopher Langston, Program Director at the John A. Hartford Foundation which helped underwrite the “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce” Institute of Medicine report that highlights the health care crisis created as a result of the increasing number of older patients with more complex health needs.

Can we keep the shortage of people with this training from getting any worse?

Nancy Lundebjerg, COO of the American Geriatrics Society and co-organizer of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance coalition.

Of course the young and connected will feel Video calling is just a fad but appreciate the specialist shortages and talk to a carer who’s been told they can’t have telephone health advice because “I can only discuss theses issues with your hard of hearing, sleeping mother who has Parkinsons” and it becomes rather obvious that the opportunity to collapse time and space to securely bring patients together with informed Doctors with specialist skills is a transformational disruptive opportunity that we must not overlook:

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