Designing Impact Weekend: Summary of the ‘Innovation for Elderly Healthcare’ Talk

One of the activities from Designing Impact Weekend is the ‘Innovation for Elderly Healthcare’ Talk, which deals with health promotion and treatments for illness as well as opportunity, the use of the Internet of Things in health promotion and result measurement. The talk was given by Weeratouch Pongruengkiat, a representative from Team Nothing 2 Lose, Only 2 Gain of Designing Impact Program 2017. The team was able to translate an initial idea from using exercise machine to improve the elderly’s health to a system that motivates elders to exercise, to produce long-term outcomes. The prototype can be applied to other agencies involved in elderly care.

The discussion was also joined by Oranuch Lertkuldilok, a founder of the ForOldy Project, a social enterprise for seniors with limited financial resources. The project created a system which allows the elderly to take care of each other within a community to avoid bed-ridden problems, focusing on mental and social care. Training is held for volunteers, with a checklist for them to report back every month. Other speakers include Supakan Siriviboon, a medical student from Ramathibodi Hospital, who has had experience with patients aged 40 and above, and Natt Weerawan, President of the Chiangmai Maker club, which gathers people who make innovative devices such as drones, and IoT (Internet of Things) devices for knowledge exchange.

The challenge of elderly healthcare is diseases and illnesses. Over 90% of elders visit the doctor 1-2 times per month, without any kind of prevention such as exercise or self-care (as in healthy eating and exercise). The major excuses are lack of time and motivation. Therefore, elderly health care in Thailand is inclined towards reactive care. To achieve the goal of improving the health of older people, doctors and seniors must work together like partners. Doctors must be willing to talk or design a treatment approach that suits each senior’s lifestyle.

Technology also comes into play. In today’s world, items are connected via the internet. As a result, a large amount of data is recorded and can be measured. For example, a sensor device can be attached to a bicycle to collect data; wearable devices can be connected to the internet with data that can be measured and analyzed to solve further problems. The IoT is a new tool that enables all parties involved, including the elderly, hospital, community, and health agencies, to use the technology and create a rounded system. A simple example is Fitbit application, with a device that tracks sleep behavior and the number of steps taken. By producing results in numbers, it motivates people, young and old, to start exercising more.

Good health is about maintaining your body in a good condition with constant growth and zero sickness. Exercise is not the only thing that matters; how you eat and live is also critical to a healthy body and long-term good health.