How healthcare uses innovation to help older people grow old independently

Advocate Aurora Enterprises, the innovation subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health, is building a portfolio of companies and programs aimed at helping older people live longer and healthier homes.

The fastest growing population in the United States is the elderly, and they are very interested in staying healthy longer and staying home. With this in mind, health organizations are developing care management programs that allow adults to age on their own, and they are researching and investing in programs that improve home care, including telehealth and digital health.

As Vice President of Strategy and Analysis, Sheetal Sobti heads the category of independent aging for Advocate Aurora Enterprises, a subsidiary of Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health, which offers innovative solutions to meet people’s broader health needs. In her role, she is responsible for building a portfolio of health and wellness companies that allow older people to thrive independently, comfortably and affordably in their homes.

She recently sat down with HealthLeaders to talk about how Advocate Aurora Enterprises is choosing companies to add to its portfolio, and how those companies are complementing a strategy to help older people grow old independently.

HealthLeaders: How can innovative new technologies or services be used to help older people stay at home instead of moving to a nursing home?

Sheetal Sobti: We found that most older people want to stay in a familiar environment – often the place where they raised their families and where they have friends and family in the community. For many older people, home comforts prevent social isolation, which can negatively affect physical and mental health. There is also a financial benefit to aging, as housing for the elderly can be expensive.

However, many older people eventually have to live with their families or move to a nursing home because an adverse event occurs in the home – they fall or simply cannot meet their needs. If we can help them be safe, this ensures that they can stay at home longer and be more comfortable.

Sheetal Sobti, Vice President of Strategy and Analysis, Advocate Aurora Enterprises. Photo courtesy of Advocate Aurora Enterprises.

That’s why Advocate Aurora Enterprises is investing in Senior Helpers, which connects adults with caregivers who help with daily activities such as going in and out of the shower or up and down stairs. Now, with the addition of MobileHelp, we are adding technology to our portfolio of services to provide an extra layer of safety and security to offer seniors and their families more peace of mind.

Q: How does Advocate Aurora Enterprises evaluate technology or support services? What are you looking for and maybe what do you want to avoid?

Events: Our goal is to continue to build a portfolio of innovative health and wellness solutions that help people live well at every stage of life, while diversifying our income. When it comes to self-aging [landscape], we look at the types of solutions that older people buy and their families who care for them. We ask how to make their lives easier?

We then use our clinical experience, which includes linking such solutions to the wider continuum of care. We look at what happens when older people are sick, in addition to what happens when they are well. We complement the picture by combining traditional home health offerings, as well as our experience in use and risk management, with technologies and services that complement clinical care.

As for what we would avoid, this could include anything that falls within the core clinical scope of Advocate Aurora Health.

IN. How do they approach healthcare providers with these products or companies? Are you looking for technologies or services that integrate with your primary care provider or local health care system?

Events: We really like the idea of ​​using technology to connect medical professionals with services that could benefit their patients.

Last year, we invested in Xealth, a platform that connects providers with a range of solutions to help patients achieve their health and wellness goals. In a sense, Xealth is a key factor in our portfolio, helping to achieve synergies between solutions and suppliers. For example, in the future, if a clinician discharges a patient who says there is no one at home to help him or her with medication or food, that clinician may use a platform such as Xealth to identify a temporary need for care services such as those provided. by senior assistants.

IN. What are the challenges or barriers to adopting innovative new technologies or strategies?

Events: This is a big change – not only for consumers, but also for health systems. But in the world after COVID there is more readiness.

Healthcare systems today compete in the same space as fast-growing technology companies, which have much more capital, a broader customer base and, frankly, more in-depth knowledge of consumers and their purchasing power. On the other hand, health systems have clinical experience and trusting relationships with consumers. Things are constantly evolving and we need to meet consumers where they are.

IN. How does Advocate Aurora Enterprises help Advocate Aurora’s healthcare system? Does the health system identify health trends to pursue or test promising new technologies or services?

Events: We have done a lot of research on market trends and solutions that complement clinical care to improve the health of the whole person. Here’s how Advocate Aurora Enterprises identifies its three key areas of focus: independent aging, family development and support, and personal well-being.

Part of the reason we exist is to help expand Advocate Aurora Health’s business portfolio at a time when healthcare systems across the country are facing broad industry challenges, from stagnant cost recovery rates to increased competition. And we share the goal of helping people live well. So there will probably be times when the healthcare system chooses to offer proven solutions in which Advocate Aurora Enterprises invests or acquires.

Q. What new technologies or strategies are you considering now? What is on the horizon for healthcare innovation?

Events: Following the acquisition of MobileHelp, our focus is on integrating and identifying synergies that make it even easier for older people to age on the spot. We are thrilled to be able to combine Senior Helpers’ home care services with MobileHelp’s personal emergency response systems and remote patient monitoring capabilities.

We will continue to look for solutions that keep people safe in their homes, while easing the burden on the families who care for them. And we will remain focused on expanding the continuum of care to help people live well at every stage of life.

Eric Wickland is an innovation and technology editor for HealthLeaders.

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