Wearable devices in palliative care for older people

A Talk by Rada Sandic Spaho
PhD student, Nord University

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About this talk

INNOVATEDIGNITY consortium (the EU Horizon 2020 funded project), is leading 15 PhD projects covering digital health, leadership and gender topics. My project is one of them: researching wearable devices and eHealth solutions in palliative care for older people. We conducted a scoping review about wearable devices in palliative care for people 65 years and older. Our thorough search found 5 articles with only 2 types of wearable devices, accelerometer and actigraph device. These two types were used for limited, research, purposes only, even though they could provide more data about patients. Forty million people in the world need palliative care, but only 14 per cent are receiving it. Ageing of the population, constant shortage of healthcare professionals, and limited access to health services are just a few of the obstacles to providing palliative care. On the other hand, digital health, and especially wearable devices could fill in this huge gap. However, even though there are many wearable devices on the market, their use in health, and especially in palliative care, is very limited. Even though we have wearable devices that can monitor all the vital signs in real-time, sleep patterns, stress levels, frailty levels, fall detection, and many more we are missing their use in this field. Palliative patients usually have lots of comorbidities, and staying at home as long as possible, while getting the care they need is crucial for them. Their health status can change very quickly, but with wearable devices, monitoring is two-way communication between patients and healthcare professionals, which enables individualised treatment adjustments without clinical visits. We will present challenges, but also the opportunities for future. If we want to benefit, we have to “connect all the dots”, from patients and their needs to healthcare professionals, legislation, wearable device manufacturers, governmental institutions...We need an innovative approach to this huge problem. There is a need for collaboration of all the stakeholders to provide dignified palliative care, through policy influencing, standardisation, cost-saving, privacy protection…

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