Why Isn't Tech More Appealing?

People are people, not patients

By Laurie Orlov

Lots of "health" invention: Next week I am going to Connected Health in Boston, where I will no doubt walk up and down aisles filled with medication management systems, chronic disease devices, and every type of tech to help doctors do a better job of caring for their patients—and presumably to help patients take better care of themselves.

What captures the imagination of the user? Will it be a beeping, blinking device to remind about a pill dosage? Will it be a passive blood pressure cuff, a clinical-looking weight scale, or something else that reminds older people with chronic disease that they are patients, perhaps who also have some cognitive decline? Perhaps that's the reason they are being reminded in the first place?

Compliance matters, so let's add a bit of fun: Check these links: we know that older people's past memories are jogged by old movies and old songs. Why not “design in” some visual or sonic, randomized or user-selected music or video into devices that today are expected to be compelling enough in their own right, though we know that they aren't.

Outside the box, people are people, not patients: The other day I heard about a yet-to-launch medication management system that will include a screen to display other nonmedical reminders and suggestions (e.g., "It’s 12 noon: Did you take the dog for a walk?"). This is a great example of thinking outside the "box" of a medical compliance device that targets patients. If device manufacturers put the “person” lens on as they drew up their product designs—imagined how they could make them more sociable, more interactive, more fun to be around, it could be that compliance with doctors’ instructions would improve.

If I see any devices next week that meet the above criteria, I will write about them here.

By Laurie Orlov
Aging in Place Technology Watch Blog

[First posted October 14, 2010, at Laurie's Aging in Place Technology Watch Web site.] 

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