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Technology and health care for the elderly medical research studies

Focus on strategic priorities that have significant social impact.

KS 2014-07

Communication Technologies for Engaging Patients, Families and Caregivers in the Health Care System: A Scoping Review

This review will be conducted in collaboration with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE), an international knowledge transfer network headquartered at the Institute for Life Course and Aging at University of Toronto. The project team includes researchers and community organizations from a variety of professions and disciplines who have been working together to develop user-friendly tools for improving the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers.

Project Contact: Lynn McDonald -- aging@utoronto.ca

Key Findings for Researchers

New communication technologies are a viable option for improving engagement with healthcare systems, and perhaps healthcare resource utilization.

  • The type of technology examined was most commonly web-based platforms, specialized technologies and mobile phones
  • Technologies can improve the engagement of frail elderly patients in their care, but the use of these technologies is in its infancy
  • Overall the new communication technologies were promising as a means of improving engagement of older adults in healthcare. Mediating factors included usability and age-appropriateness, which could be mitigated through training

Why This Study was Needed

The use of technology as communication tools is becoming more common in healthcare. The use of these new technologies has the potential to improve the interaction and engagement of patients and their families/caregivers, but their effectiveness among the elderly and their families/caregivers is unknown.

Study Summary

The scoping review searched medical databases using search terms for older adults, new communications and engagement. 69 articles were included, and 27 measures were identified. Studies were included if they conducted analysis on older adults (55+ years old) and involved a "new" communication technology that facilitated some form of engagement with the healthcare system or provider.

Future Research

  • Greater focus on the caregiver's perspective and use of new technologies is needed
  • High quality research on a broader type of new communication technology, especially social media, is needed

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