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Amazon will be releasing the new Alexa Together later this year, a subscription service for caregivers allowing them to provide in-home help and remote patient monitoring for their older loved ones. The Alexa Together service is an extension of Amazon’s Care Hub features, first launched in November 2020. Several family members or caregivers can use Alexa Together to check in on their loved ones with features such as custom alerts, reminders, and a 24-7 emergency response service.
While Amazon isn’t the only company offering digitized and sensor-based technology to the consumer, they are one of the more visible. For that reason, this article will explain how a new suite of devices and services are being packaged to assist older populations.
The Need for Remote Patient Monitoring
Alexa Together has entered the market at an ideal—and much needed—time. The baby boomer generation is aging. By the year 2030, the majority of this cohort will be older than 65. Most older adults prefer to remain at home rather than enter assisted living or similar housing or caregiving settings, where big business often usurps individualized resident care. Alexa’s new service arrives just when the need for caregivers is experiencing a serious nationwide shortage of home health aid workers.
Amazon has aptly anticipated this need by announcing the upcoming release of a remote patient monitoring (RPM) service associated with their Alexa product. Alexa Together offers customized alerts, 24/7 urgent response, and an activity feed that will provide snapshots of the loved one’s Alexa and smart home interactions. Alexa Together will also provide a “circle of support” where additional family members can be invited to support their loved ones. Remote assistance will also help the loved one manage shopping lists, link music services, and more. The service is also compatible with third-party fall detection equipment that can be installed to alert the caregiver if the loved is in need. As part of the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, an older person’s home can be equipped with a wide variety of digitized and sensor-based equipment to help people stay in touch, stay safe and receive the healthcare they need. IoT is a term that refers to objects that contain sensors, processing ability, software, and other technology to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. While ubiquitous, IoT can be found in smart homes where sensors are used to monitor the use of water, heating, electricity, and other safety factors as well as health concerns without the direct involvement of people.
Amazon Together Isn’t the Only Remote Patient Monitoring Service for Older Adults
When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid started reimbursing for RPM several years ago, they paved the way for many companies to develop products for clinicians and consumers to use to improve their health and well-being. While the Amazon Together project does not yet reach into healthcare directly, it is reasonable to assume that such a reach is to be expected in the short-to-mid term. Like many other groups anticipating the many needs of graying baby boomers, Amazon has been releasing other healthcare-related services and devices quite rapidly, including the Halo fitness tracking line, the Halo wearable app, the Amazon digital pharmacy, and Amazon Care Service.
Other companies expanding remote patient monitoring services for older loved ones include Connected America, Best Buy Lively, and Papa, who just recently joined hands with Milliman HealthIO. Many of these companies are developing and releasing digital health platforms combining the forces of remote patient monitoring, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and longitudinal data and are working towards better access to healthcare for older people. Stay tuned to Telehealth.org News for more industry news related to serving older people with improved technology.
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