Home healthcare system links life and technology for Hawaii’s elderly

Samson Kaala Reiny

HONOLULU—The latest gadgets in healthcare technology are making life a bit easier for Hawaii’s elderly thanks to a new customized home technology system that helps kupuna complete daily tasks while keeping loved ones and caregivers informed.

Launched in June by Hookele, a local healthcare consulting firm based out of Downtown Honolulu, the iHealthHome system features a customized touch-screen monitor console that, for example, can remind a person to take a medication or make a doctor’s appointment. Prompts can be either a voice recordings or a visual cues on the screen.

Aside from the reminders, wireless and Bluetooth technology enable home blood pressure readings and weigh-ins to be automatically recorded into the system’s server. Motion-activated sensors can also be installed to switch lights on at night. Others sensors can be programmed to detect how long someone has been gone from home, or how many times a person gets out of bed at night. 

“Finding changes to a behavior can be important,” says Norine Wong, the clinical director for Hookele, who notes that all of the data are available online to whomever the client has authorized. She remembers an elderly woman who began going to the bathroom five or six times a night. The daughter, after logging in and noticing the spike in frequency, urged her mother to visit the doctor. She ended up having a urinary tract infection.

“It can give the client and their family some peace of mind,” Wong says.

In addition to tracking information online, caregivers can receive alerts through phone texts that let them know of any possible concerns, like if a medication hasn’t been taken that day, for example. Multiple caregivers can also coordinate with each other by adding events to a shared online calendar or messaging within a closed email system (used to prevent spammers and potential con-artists from sending mail). 

Just how manageable is this technology for Hookele’s current iHealthHome clientele, who average in at 89 years of age?

“I can go over the system with them on the phone,” says Wong, who notes that clients also keep busy with games, current events, and a picture-sharing program, all designed with simplicity in mind.

With all its features, the technology doesn’t come cheap. The system costs approximately $4,700, and the monthly charge thereafter varies from $145 to $460–depending on the level of medical support requested.

But Wong believes the system can be cost effective because it can be a viable alternative to living in a nursing home, which can cost thousands of dollars per month.

“This product allows seniors to remain independent,” she says.

Hookele is in the process of adding even more features to its iHealthHome suite, including the forthcoming “Services at Home” program that allows clients to take care of taxi appointments and prescriptions refills among other tasks. A new monitor system, expected to come out soon, will allow clients to video Skype. 

To learn more and inquire about the company’s free 3-month trial offer, go to: http://ihealthhome.net.