Tele-Homecare – Medical Assistance and Habitability Improvement for Elderly People through Ambient Intelligence
W. Kurschl, W. Gottesheim, S. Mitsch, R. Prokop, J. Schönböck - Tele-Homecare – Medical Assistance and Habitability Improvement for Elderly People through Ambient Intelligence - Proceedings of FFH2008, Wels, Austria, 2008, pp. 1
Routine medical check-ups often needed by elderly, handicapped, or otherwise needy people in hospitals or at the local doctor pose significant effort on both the patient and the medical staff. Moreover, those check-ups are just a snapshot of the patient’s physical constitution, because collecting continuous data would be too costly in terms of time and money. But detailed progress history could further improve medical care quality. Additionally, patients often have to stay at hospitals just for the purpose of monitoring their well-being and to do some routine check-ups (e.g., after a medical treatment or a surgery). If such patients could leave hospitals earlier and do those routine check-ups themselves at home, the medical staff would be effectively unburdened from routine work, while at the same time the medical care quality could be enhanced through continuous monitoring. Technical solutions to these goals are to be implemented in an ambient intelligence system that consists of vari-ous hardware and software components integrated into everyday items. Such components could be blood pres-sure, blood sugar and heart rate sensors, drug dispensers, refrigerators that monitor nutrition habits, or entertain-ing games to train and assess a person’s mental condition. The collected information could be evaluated – either by the medical staff or by the system – for irregularities, alarming changes, or symptoms. The system could even automatically alert relatives, care givers, or medical staff.
Another aspect of the ambient intelligence system is to improve elderly and needy persons’ habitability: it should assist them in living autonomously, and let them participate in social communities and family life. Envisioned living assistants include item tracking and searching, warning of household dangers (e.g., slippery floor, unattended stove, running water taps), and recognition of alarming situations (e.g., collapse). Social applications include communication, entertainment, and awareness displays (e.g., neighbor at home, family emotions). In the course of the project further appliances could arise.