How Our Best Thinkers Are Preparing the Healthcare System for the Future

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How Our Best Thinkers Are Preparing the Healthcare System for the Future

Last November, we began a six-part series on how researchers are bridging the tech gap by integrating new technologies to make our lives better and safer. In the not too distant future, our healthcare system will be challenged to accommodate the growing needs of an aging population. With new tech comes new hope.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “By 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 will more than double. Our current health care system is ill equipped to accommodate their growing needs. The challenge for health providers, payers, business, and government is to redesign services to address those needs.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about 40% of people over 65 take five or more medications per day; managing that many medications can be overwhelming. Reminders to take pills work as long as a user follows through and logs taking the medication, but for those who suffer even minor cognitive impairment, this solution is not good enough. The primary problem faced by an aging population is adherence to medical guidelines when taking prescription medication.

New tech emerges faster than ever

Thanks to Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play, the distance between developers and consumers has been significantly shortened. The two services offer a combined 3.1 million apps, ranging from time-wasters like Candy Crush to lifesavers like Lifeline Response. Developers have been working overtime to use smartphones to enhance every aspect of our lives.

The pace of development means that end-users can try many different apps for any situation and find the one that fits best. Apps can be as simple as a timed reminder to take medication or as complex as tracking movements during physical therapy. However, there are still pitfalls in prescription medication management that new technology is working to overcome.

Rebecca Weintraub and Jose Colucci Jr., writing for the Harvard Business Review, believe that “design thinking” can assist the elderly in adhering to their medication regimens. In a recent article, they outlined the primary considerations for developers to keep in mind when creating healthcare solutions for the elderly. The considerations essentially boil down to making technology simple, accessible, and efficient.

The authors pointed to a simple system, already available, that works very well for managing multiple medications. PillPack simplifies medication dispensing by condensing prescriptions into removable containers labeled with the time and date that the medication should be taken. There are many ways to manage medication, but time and technology will help to make the future safer and more convenient for our aging population.

In the meantime, bad medication management can pose a serious health risk. Doctors may prescribe incompatible medications that pharmacies dole out automatically. Existing technologies have largely negated this problem, but until the entire process from prescription to adherence is streamlined, your elderly loved one is at risk.

If you or a loved one has suffered because of bad prescription medication management, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. The experienced Nashville medical malpractice attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville.