India Announces New Plan To Help Farmers Stem Air Pollution

India’s capital Delhi has the dubious distinction of topping the list of the most polluted cities. A recent study also showed that the air pollution in the city is not an isolated case as other Indian cities also suffer from heavy pollution. The list includes Ludhiana, Gwalior, Kanpur, Allahad, Patna and Raipur. The problem is not limited to the cities, however, as studies have shown that 75% of air-pollution related deaths were from the rural areas.

Burning Rice After Harvest

Most of the cities that experience heavy pollution are located in northern India. According to Chandra Venkatraman, a chemical engineering professor of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the second biggest source of air pollution in the northern states is agricultural residue burning. Every year from November onwards, rice farmers in the northern Indian states like Punjab and Haryana burn the stubble left over from harvesting rice. This helps the farmers clear the fields for the next harvest. Unfortunately, the haze adds to the pollution in the cities.

A 2016 study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur estimated that air quality in Delhi could lower by 90% if the habit of rice burning will not be stopped. This bold move may be difficult for Indian farmers to understand and accept, but is crucial to the survival of millions of people living in the area.

One measure of air quality used by the World Health Organization (WHO) is PM2.5, which is based on the concentration of microscopic particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. These are considered harmful because they can be inhaled and lodged in the lungs and are not naturally expelled. From the lungs, these particles can also pass further on to other organs.

The WHO considers a PM2.5 index higher than 25 to be unsafe. In November 2017, Delhi had an air quality index of 1,000, measured at the US Embassy.

Regional Disputes Worsen the Problem

One of the major causes of the seasonal smog and pollution is agricultural in nature, and Delhi is not the only area which is affected. Other regions and cities also experience these deleterious effects. The problem could not be solved simply by prohibiting the farmers from burning rice fields. The territorial boundaries have made this a political dispute between the chief minister of Delhi against the chief minister of Punjab and Haryana.

Planting rice in Asia is a tedious process which involves flooding the rice paddies before plowing the soil. The paddies are harrowed afterwards, which means running a large comb-like mechanism to break the muddy soil further. It is in this process that the burned stubble is broken down further. The land is leveled to ensure that the seedlings are planted at an even depth. A level soil also ensures that the water is also even. After leveling, either the paddies are seeded, or seedlings are planted. The burned stubble mixes with the soil during the tilling process.

Burning rice paddy stubble (also known as agricultural biomass residue) is called Crop Residue Burning (CRB) and has long been considered as a major health hazard. According to different sources, it is a major source of pollution, and contributes between 12% to 60% of PM concentrations. It also does not help the soil to recover, causing the loss of topsoil nutrients like nitrogen, sulfur, potassium and phosphorus. With less topsoil layer nutrients, there is a greater need to use commercial fertilizers.

The Punjab region produces between 18-20 million tons of paddy straw while the Haryana region produces two million tons. About 85% to 90% of the paddy straw is burned in the field. Punjab also produces 20 million tons of wheat straw, and farmers have also begun burning these rice by-products.

Proposed Solutions and Alternatives

The Air Act of 1981 made CBR a punishable offense, with local village officials charged with implementing the law. A penalty is imposed on the farmer who commits this offense. However, as expected, legislation has not been able to prevent this practice.

One solution for the farmers is a government subsidized purchase of a farm machine which would help in planting rice without the need to burn the stubble left over from the previous harvest. The machine would allow planting while tilling the soil, which would also streamline the planting process. The concept would be a revolutionary process as current rice planting methods have not changed since it was first planted.

The use of paddy straw in biomass-based power plants has also been suggested. Current operational and planned projects in Punjab use up to 0.04 million tons of straw. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has set up tariffs in Punjab to serve as incentives to erect biomass powered electric plants. The tariff for paddy straw is higher than that of wind and solar energy production.

Paddy straw can also be made into charcoal pellets or briquettes, as well as used as fuel for industrial baking kilns in producing bricks, as well as in the production of ethanol. A process for the procurement of paddy straw from farmers have to be but in place for the process to happen.

The Punjab region already has various projects in different stages of development in the pipeline to use paddy straw in bio-refineries for ethanol. Paddy straw can be an excellent raw material for biomass pellet fuel for industrial uses, including the replacement of coal. Other uses of paddy straw is manufacturing paper, cardboard, and making packing materials. These methods and tools require equipment and processes to produce. As packing materials, these can potentially replace synthetic materials.

Paddy straw has a lot of opportunities to help the community, and at the same time reduce air pollution in India’s northern regions. The opportunity exists for the methods and processes to be established by the small communities for the alternative economic usage of this raw material.

China’s Takes the Tech Approach

India isn’t the only country facing this problem. China, with its bulging population, has also been battling problems with pollution for years now, but not just from burning rice. Reports from the University of Exeter have revealed that air pollution and chemical use in farms have negatively impacted the ability of crops to absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.

More than 295 million vehicles emit 44.725 million tons of pollutants each year. The situation has led local scientists to adopt bold and unconventional farming methods to secure the country’s food supply. ‘Plant factories’, indoor vertical farms that grow produce requiring minimal energy and land resources as seen as the most viable solution to the problem. These self-contained systems are not exposed to choking air pollution levels which are said to be five times over the safe levels declared by the WHO.

So far, the efforts have been successful. Nowadays, indoor patches of bok choy, tomatoes, celery, and lettuce produce more than 40 to 100 times more crops than an open field farm.

Vertical farms could be the answer to the problem of meeting food supply, but it does not address the problem of pollution.

Everyday Practices Contribute to Pollution

Besides the post-harvest burning of rice fields, another major source of pollution in India is residential biomass burning. These include firewood, dried cow dung, and other materials burned to cook food or for heating. Open fires with cow dung or firewood as fuel is the most common method of cooking in India. The use of coal as fuel for power generation is the second biggest source of air pollution. Anthropogenic dusts, transportation, diesel fuel and brick kilns are other major sources of pollution.

In 2015, there were more than a million deaths in India, equivalent to 25% of the total deaths worldwide due to air pollution. Further studies on pollution and air-pollution related deaths estimate that there would be up to 1.6 million deaths annually by 2030. If aggressive measures were put in place soon, up to 1.2 million deaths could be averted annually by 2050.

Crop reside burning is a big source of pollution, but it’s only one of many factors that add up to the problem. One way to prevent this type of agricultural burning is to educate farmers that rice straw can be used to create other industrial and commercial products. This opportunity can improve the air quality in the northern cities of India as well as provide rice farmers additional income.

In the meantime, they can take a cue from China and look at other agricultural solutions which involve technology.

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Can Cooking Classes Keep Chronic Heart Failure Patients Out Of The Hospital?

In New Orleans, the Tulane Medical Center has a problem with patients released after recovering from congestive heart failure (CHF). The hospital has a readmission rate of 22% for CHF patients. Unfortunately, hospitals cannot be reimbursed for readmissions that happen within a month’s time. To address the problem, the hospital has embarked on a change in healthcare strategy for CHF patients by helping patients take long term measures to prevent readmissions and improve the overall quality of their health.

CHF is a heart condition where the organ does not efficiently pump blood, resulting in a lack of oxygen in the body. Some diseases like hypertension, diseases of the kidney and the heart, can lead to the condition. The treatment for CHF aims to prevent complications and to relieve the symptoms of the disease. Recommended long-term treatment for CHF include lifestyle and diet changes. Having too much sodium in the diet, as well as not drinking enough water may increase instances of CHF. The condition also results to overworking the heart and usually leads to other more serious heart diseases.

Reducing Sodium in the Diet

Salt is the main source of sodium in the diet and reducing its use is needed to help against CHF. Instead of salt, salt-free herbs can be used in food preparation. From a culinary standpoint, this can lead to more complex flavors, and the ability to taste some flavors which were then masked by salt.

At Tulane, the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine is undergoing an 18-month study which it hopes would lead to fewer readmissions. Colleen McCullough is a research coordinator with the Center and her job is to recruit patients for the pilot program of the study. The aim of the study is to cut one-month readmissions to half, or roughly 11%, by teaching the patients to cook their own meals.

Food is a big part of the New Orleans culture. Each regional cuisine has its own take on how to cook food. For residents, they have been eating food heavy with saturated fat and sodium. High amounts of these can worsen CHF. Hypertension and coronary artery disease are the natural result of such a diet.

When asking for volunteers for the study, McCullough finds that the patients are forthcoming about their diet. However, changing diet and lifestyle do not easily happen for the patients as many live below the poverty line.

Timothy Harlan, the Goldring Center’s executive director, said the program also takes into account mobility problems. CHF patients usually have a hard time moving around as well as commuting from their homes to the hospital. The taxi vouchers given to the study participants provided a great deal of help so they could get to the Goldring Center’s new kitchen facility.

With the patients able to get to the kitchen to learn, opportunities abounded. The food was free, which was a motivation in itself. Since there were many homebound patients who were alone for most of the day, this was also an opportunity to socialize and make new friends. With nothing else to do at home, this was something the patients can do having too much free time on their hands.

Cooking Classes

Apart from lowering patients’ sodium intake, the center also offers general guidelines to change their diet. The center teaches not only alternatives for food preparation, but also how to stretch the available food. These include relatively simple things like refrigerating leftovers, or even budgeting for food.

Also, since this is a long-term approach to a problem, part of the CHF cooking classes try to replace some ingredients and make them healthier. In New Orleans, a lot of the recipes are handed down from generation to generation, with very minimal changes. The problem is that the cuisine is noted for being down-to-earth, and lean heavily on the heavy use of salt and frying. All of these are red flags for CHF. When McCullough first started recruiting for the cooking classes, she was able to interview 120 people of which 60 enrolled, and 30 of them took classes after being released from the hospital.

To stay healthy, patients needed to understand that sodium must be used sparingly in their cooking, if at all. Other substitutions must also be made for the long term. Instead of red meat, mushrooms and lentils can be used to create yummy pasta sauces. In traditional New Orleans red beans and rice, pickled pork and sausage are replaced with spices which provide complexity of flavour and does not take away from the overall character of the dish.

The idea behind these cooking lessons is for patients to be able to make the healthier food choice when preparing meals for themselves and for their families. Rather than being simply restrictive, they are taught to make modifications to dishes so they can still enjoy the food they’re used to growing up.

The cooking classes do not just teach specific meals and menus. What is taught is the need to substitute food which provide the same rich, deep layers of flavor and aroma. These lead to interesting combinations, with food being tweaked to provide the same rich taste without the need for salt or salty condiments.

Additionally, since some patients do not know how to cook, or some have difficulty understanding a cookbook, they had to be guided through the basics with the use of visual aids. Essentially, the center is teaching patients to become confident cooks who are armed with the knowledge of making better food choices for themselves and their loved ones.

Long Way to Go

The Goldring Center project is currently only a study, with the cooking classes being the method to elicit the data needed for the research. The question is still: “Will changing the diet result in a lowered readmission rate?” To this end, the Goldring Center will make use of 20 CHR patients chosen at random. Half will take cooking classes, while the other half will not. With the data gathered from these samples, readmissions will be study for both groups. The readmissions will also be assessed for dropout reasons. The study results have not been announced but McCullough said that patients in cooking classes have been readmission-free.

Interestingly, cooking classes aren’t just being set up for heart patients. At the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, medical students can take elective courses in culinary medicine. The subject, which aims to lower the prevalence of heart disease, is taught by a faculty team including a physician, chef and a dietitian.

Here, medical students can gain hands-on cooking and meal preparation experience. This will allow them to prepare dishes and meals which meet the dietary restrictions of patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart problems.

Medical experts also note that doctors should become familiar with culinary medicine in order to build quality, long-term relationships with patients.

Karl Guggenmos, a dean emeritus at Johnson & Wales University had said: “Culinary medicine is a practical discipline and is concerned about the patient’s immediate needs. It’s been documented that specific eating guidelines may be equal to or even more effective than prescription medications.”

He notes that training health care professionals about food and diet has become critical since patients now ask their doctors more questions about food and nutrition. Therefore, the only way to meet these needs is to teach aspiring doctors about healthy food preparation and proper diet.

Becoming more conscious of what you eat and knowing what’s inside it will make a bold impact on your health, and the positive results can be seen immediately.

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“Roman” Solves ED Online And Asks You Visit A Doctor, Too

The process for diagnosing erectile dysfunction (ED) can take time. A patient is lucky if he can get into a doctor’s schedule within a month. There is also the travel time to consider. Apart from these hurdles, talking about a man’s problems with his sexual organ is downright awkward. Getting the prescription filled at a pharmacy is a big deal and understandably uncomfortable. This is why men with these experiences turn to buying Viagra or Cialis online through unregulated vendors. Fake pills adulterated with other substances are also prevalent.

Erectile Dysfunction Stats

ED is fairly common. It affects about 30% of men in their thirties, and this number goes up to 40% for men 40 years old and above. Men don’t talk about it. Women find it awkward to talk about it even in the privacy of their home. This forces the issue underground and away from doctors who can help. Unfortunately, ED is an indicator of a man’s health. Heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and depression can cause ED. Men who have the condition have a 70% increase in risks of dying prematurely.

Zachariah Reitano was 17 when he was first diagnosed with ED. He was lucky that his father is a sexual health doctor who knows that ED is a side-effect of an underlying disease. The younger Reitano went in for a physical exam and collapsed on the treadmill. It was found that he had a heart condition.

He went through a heart surgery and was put on prescribed medication, which unfortunately had ED as one of the side effects. He was taken off the medication after his heart healed, but to his surprise the ED was back post-op.

Now at 26, Reitano knows the effects of ED on relationships. He had a bold idea which inspired him to establish an online system which helps men with ED. His co-founders include the co-founder of Managed by Q Saman Rahmanian, and VP of growth for Barkbox Rob Schutz.

Roman, the ED Wonder

Roman is an app that processes patient information and serves as an online pharmacy for ED meds. It is a facility where men with ED can get a prescription from doctors, and have the drug delivered to their home. It has 20 licenced physicians who provide consultations and prescriptions.

The consultation process starts in the Roman app with the patient answering a series of questions. Doctors then review the answers from the questionnaire. If the patients pass the criteria, they are sent a prescription to their home within 24 hours, in plain nondescript packaging. The doctors keep the consultation fees and pay Roman a monthly subscription. Patients can request a follow-up call by phone or via video calls. Roman encourages patients to visit a clinic near their area, offering discounts for visiting a doctor and sending them the results.

The dosage ranges from 4 to 10 doses per month, with prices from $2 to $65 per dose depending on the brand. The 10-dose monthly limit combats overuse and abuse.

Roman circumvents the stigma usually associated with ED. It also makes for a quick response to the problem. With licensed practitioners on call, everything is above board. Studies have shown that only 30% of men who have ED seek treatment, at the same time up to 80% of Viagra from online vendors are counterfeit. There is an inequity which Roman solves in a timely manner.

The startup recently raised $3.1 million in a funding round led by General Catalyst and includes Box Group, Slow Ventures, Initialized, as well as angel investors Aaron Harris of Y Combinator, Scott Belsky of Benchmark, and others.

There are other online pharmacies and telemedicine startups. However, Roman is the only one specializing on ED. This simplifies distribution for the company, as well as ensures that only qualified doctors answer all the patient’s questions.

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Depressed? Google Knows

Tech giant Google introduced a bold idea to help those who think they may be suffering from depression but are not yet ready to go to a physician. On the Google page, whenever there is a search for “depression,” a question will appear asking users if they want to take part in a questionnaire. This is a 9-question test that can help determine if the person is potentially depressive or not.

Google has not been spared the flack for their attempt to help depression. This has mainly come from people who think that this is another way that the search giant is invading privacy or using its data to mine information about people.

Depression is a condition that is still not well-understood by the general population. People casually drop the word, as if depression means merely being sad about something. In addition, there is a stigma to depression because it is a mental health condition. There are still some people who believe that if you can get up in the morning without anything physically wrong with you, then you are healthy.

Depression is not quite well-accepted yet because a mental health issue, something the majority of people do not yet accept or understand. Even those who may have depression would rather deny that they are suffering from it—they would rather keep the condition to themselves instead of going to a doctor to have it confirmed and diagnosed. For a lot of people, it is better to be in doubt yet live in comfortable silence than to have it confirmed that you are mentally ill and experience humiliation from peers, friends, and even loved ones.

According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in America, statistics show that one in five people will have a depressive episode in their lifetime. Of these, only half will reach out for support.

Paving the Way for Mental Health Tech

Google’s approach is discreet, yet it has the research to back it up. NAMI also believes that this is a big step forward in helping those who have depression. The test itself offered by Google is just a first step. It is recommendatory in nature, and is not binding—only a qualified doctor would be in a position to determine depression and to subsequently prescribe medication.

The assistance and support is the key. According to NAMI, it takes an average of seven years between initial onset of symptoms to the time that the patient receives treatment. During that time, there are a lot of hurdles to treatment. First off, those who have depression would usually not want to go to a doctor for a diagnosis. Even after being diagnosed for depression, the patient would often still be in denial. The stigma of mental illness is deep, often preventing the patient from understanding that the condition is treatable.

Clinical depression can worsen and last for months or even years. Getting a proper diagnosis is hard enough when the patient does not want, or is afraid, to be diagnosed. Sadly, the results of depression can get ultimately damaging, with more than one out of every ten people with depression ending up committing suicide.

Google has not been spared the flack for their attempt to help depression. This has mainly come from people who think that this is another way that the search giant is invading privacy or using its data to mine information about people. Objectively, this is one way for such a simple request for information can help an individual.

Doctors are also in a similar dilemma. Most times, the people who notice the symptoms for depression are friends and family; however, they cannot approach the general practitioner to ask about a person’s health, due to confidentiality issues. Family and friends can only ask that their loved one submit to a test from a general practitioner (GP).

Google’s simple questionnaire can streamline the process of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. While what they have is not a substitute for a proper psychiatric assessment, it could eventually lead to a person getting one. This bold idea can save more lives in the long run.

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Oxford Company Impresses In Digital Healthcare

British Member of Parliament Nicola Blackwood visited a pioneering health tech company for a preview of their bold products and services. According to the Oxford Times, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and current undersecretary of state for public health came to see Incuna, one of Europe’s largest digital agencies, to foster the development of digital healthcare through technical transformation.

Oxford is positioned to capitalize on the bold impact of a tech revolution in the healthcare industry. Ms. Blackwood mentioned the recent investment of £113 million in the Biomedical Research Centre under Professor Keith Channon. This is a world-class research institute for medicine and data capabilities. The health official also noted that Oxford has a pipeline of computer science and information technology employees graduating from university which will further their cause of using a technical revolution to innovate the healthcare system.

Founded seven years ago, Incuna is an ingenious firm that creates digital health products and services for specific customer needs. One of their first products is ePatient, a patient platform that has transformed how people with cancer are given the necessary care and medical monitoring. Incuna built this technology from scratch and this allowed them to include patient input and feedback on the patient platform. Medical practitioners and researchers have validated the use of ePatient and it is now in use in 14 countries, helping take care of thousands of patients.

The success of the forward-thinking company has prompted it to create an office in Singapore to address the need of clients in the Asia-Pacific region. It also recently held a hardware hacking workshop for health.

“Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”

Cyan Collier, Incuna’s creative director, said: “Our aim is to demystify the process of creating new health technologies”. The company believes that with the technology in place to support ideas, they can be transformed into reality. Taking bold action to devise new ways of delivering healthcare can help to tackle numerous existing health problems – not only in the UK, but across the world.

Apart from enjoying the support of local politicians like Ms. Blackwood, Incuna is also being backed by the European Cancer Network. This will mean more patients will be involved in the company’s cancer research and be given access to cutting-edge medicine and treatment. These advancements will have a bold impact on society as a whole.

Now more than ever, people have put a premium on health, and receiving quality healthcare has become non-negotiable. Companies like Incuna continue to revolutionize healthcare by using technology to innovate in digital healthcare. At the same time, scientists are developing robot surgeons, rehabilitation robots and hospital robots which have the ability to perform complicated tasks while crunching the patient to healthcare provider ratio, to a more ideal number.

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Smart And Wearable Technology – From Fitness To Healthcare

Smart and wearable technology has made great strides in recent years, developing applications that often go beyond just being able to monitor a person’s physical performance and fitness. Examples of these developments include research into the treatment of diseases, as well as in maintaining health in general, the Managed Healthcare Executive notes.

“In 2016, there were more than 101.9 million wearable devices sold”

The growth of the fitness and health wearable industry has been enormous. The International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that in 2016, there were more than 101.9 million wearable devices sold. This represented a growth of around 29% over 2015. It has been estimated that the market will grow further and sell 213.6 million units by 2020.

Currently, the most common wearables look like wristwatches. However, it is expected that clothing and eyewear devices will gain ground. The clinical application of wearable technology is evolving, as technology companies partner with healthcare organizations with the goal of solving some of the healthcare industry’s biggest problems.

The following are eight wearables in the healthcare industry which are worth exploring:

1 The LIVE by EarlySense is a remote monitor system for bedridden patients. One of the hardest tasks for a caregiver is providing continuous care for bedridden patients. The device collects vital signs and sleep patterns in real time. The data is sent via a mobile app and received by caregivers, nurses and clinicians. The LIVE itself is not something that the patient wears, but is placed under the patient’s mattress. Studies have found that it is 92.5% accurate in monitoring vital signs like heart rate, breathing, movement, as well as sleep patterns and other factors.

2 The Rapael Smart Glove is designed for people who have experienced neurological and musculoskeletal injuries, including strokes or heart attacks. It is used for physical therapy purposes, where it is used to create an exercise schedule with the use of a 30-minute exercise. It makes use of game software where the patient plays table tennis, baseball and other activities on the computer. The activity is given a score which is used to motivate the patient.

3 The Rapael Smart Board is aimed at helping patients with mobility problems with their shoulders and elbows. The Smart Board also makes use of computer games to motivate the patient to play the games which entail moving the affected parts through a wide range of motion.

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4 The K’Track Glucose monitor is one of the simplest glucose monitor for people with diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2). The monitor makes use of micro-needles less than 0.5mm. These micro needles collect fluid right below the skin surface. These are also analyzed to provide blood sugar information. A replaceable cartridge houses the micro needles, and lasts up to 30 days. The cartridge can take an unlimited number of readings during its lifetime. To use the monitor, the patient presses a button, and in within a minute, the results are displayed on the device. The results can also be synchronized with a mobile app.

5 The Fever Scout is a patch that reads the body temperature and sends this information to caregivers and medical health practitioners via a mobile app. Caregivers can remotely monitor the patient’s temperature. The Fever Scout continuously takes temperature readings and sends this data to the mobile app even when its 25 or 30 feet away from the patient.

6 The AccendoWave is a pain management monitoring wearable. By reading the patient’s electroencephalography system (EEG), the device knows if the patient is in pain and tries to distract him away from the discomfort. AccendoWave is in partnership with Samsung and uses a Samsung tablet to entertain the patient depending on the pain level. The patient is also able to rate the device depending on whether the distraction alleviated the discomfort felt.

7 The Ava bracelet monitors women’s fertility and their menstrual cycle. It uses a huge amount of information which show a relationship with female reproductive hormones. It monitors pulse rate, sleep, breathing, skin temperature, and others. The device is only worn at night and synchronizes data with the use of a mobile app. This device has been FDA-approved and has been on sale since 2015.

8 The Omron Project Zero 2.0 is a wearable which looks like a regular wrist watch. It measures blood pressure, sleep, heart rate and other activities. It synchronizes with a mobile app and is powered by a battery which runs for about a week before it needs to be recharged. It was presented to the public at the 2017 Consumer Electronics show.

These latest developments in wearable technology show how technological innovations in one industry such as fitness can be applied to other industries such as healthcare. The Bold Impact of applying technological breakthroughs across industries could greatly improve people’s lives. From wearables in fitness and healthcare, to Virtual Reality in entertainment and education, the possibilities are endless.

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Higher Adoption of Digital Healthcare From Seniors In Australia

The world’s aging population is turning its eyes on robotics and digital healthcare to make everyday life easier. The elderly will benefit immensely from online tools, cognitive assistance and digital monitoring via wearable tech to make the delivery of healthcare more efficient. This will make a bold impact on the lives of senior citizens, their families, as well as their caregivers; improving their quality of living even as they battle sometimes debilitating conditions.

In Japan, for example, robotics is at the heart of their programs to assist the elderly. According to robotics researcher Antonio Espingardeiro of Robotics Tomorrow, the aging population is pushing scientists to develop various forms of assistive technology to expand the levels of human care.

“Without semi-autonomous robotics or other sensory information processing systems, people with disabilities or seniors will not be able to get the care they need or deserve. I’m counting on big data and IoT, robotics and artificial intelligence, in combination, to contribute significantly for a better quality of life for all ages,” Espingardeiro said.

Robots providing assistance to the elderly on a 24/7 schedule will lighten the load of caregivers and will make patient monitoring more accurate and efficient – but only up to a certain extent. The researcher was quick to note that the human senses are still more advanced than machine sensory capabilities. More importantly, robots still lack common sense and emotional intelligence. Eventually though, robots may be programmed with more advanced sensory receptors and they are of course, better at processing big data and quantitative analysis.

Robots can also go with the patients wherever they goes, allowing remote monitoring which can be transmitted to the caregiver or doctors. Video conferencing or video calls can also be set up so the elderly patient can immediately relay how they are feeling.

Espingardeiro sees a future where technology and elderly care will work seamlessly. He said the integration process “must be progressive yet sensitive. The current elderly generation is not tech-savvy and so using basic computers or electronic devices is a foreign concept. However, future generations will have already consumed and appreciated technological innovation at various touch points in daily life. We want to move patients from a spectrum of passive to participative over time. But, to do so, this process requires an ethical approach that establishes trust.”

The digital transformation in healthcare is prevalent in Australia and this development has made consumer-focused technologies a necessity in aging care. According to Accenture’s 2016 survey, the majority of Australia’s 4 million seniors are using technology to manage their health on a regular basis.

This, in turn, creates opportunities for aging care providers, reports said.

“There’s plenty of evidence that populations more generally are using digital technology to help manage their own health but under closer analysis we discovered that digital health has no age limit. This gives opportunities to transform the patient experience to be less reliant on the health system and more reliant on themselves, family and carers,” said Ian Manovel, lead author and Accenture Australia principal director.

Additionally, the survey showed a growing interest in technology which will help patients collect data more efficiently. These include smart phones, wearables and home based monitoring equipment.

The aging population is riding on the wave of digital transformation and healthcare tech to improve their quality of life and lessen their dependence on caregivers. Robotics and gadgets that can monitor their vital signs and transmit reports directly to their healthcare providers will allow them to receive treatment faster. These developments are sure to make a bold impact on the lives of millions of seniors who still want to make the most out of their remaining years.

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