Objective: To collaborate with relevant stakeholders and end-users to develop an innovative and feasible system that monitors physical functioning and provides tailored feedback and advice to community-dwelling elderly people.
Main content of paper: Technological innovations can contribute to bridging the gap between demand and supply of care in frail elderly people. The progression of physical functioning in elderly people can be monitored using technology and via the same technology, functioning-related feedback and advice can be provided to the elderly user and care providers. This may support self-management. However, when developing and introducing new technology, it is important that relevant stakeholders and end-users accept the technology and are able to use it. Therefore, a feedback and advisory system was developed in close collaboration with elderly people, engineers, researchers, geriatricians, physiotherapists, and other health care professionals. All these stakeholders provided input during interviews and expert-meetings on issues such as: which physical indicators should be measured, how (often) should they be measured, how should feedback and advice be provided, and how to embed the technology in daily living and in health care? During this iterative process, aspects of the system were adjusted based on the input of all stakeholders.
Results: The technological system that was developed consists of three devices; a bathroom scale monitoring weight and balance, a Grip-ball monitoring grip strength and a mobile phone with a built-in accelerometer monitoring physical activity and gait. The information about these physical indicators is sent to the mobile phone via blue-tooth. The users will receive feedback and advice regarding their own physical functioning on the screen of the mobile phone using text messages and/or spoken messages. The tailored advices relate to individually relevant and realistic goals that aim to maintain or improve physical functioning. The mobile phone also sends the information to an online database that is accessible for care professionals.
Conclusion: In collaboration with different stakeholders and end-users, an innovative feedback and advisory system was developed for community-dwelling elderly people. The system can also be used by health care professionals to monitor the progression of physical functioning of their clients. By ensuring that all relevant stakeholders and end-users were able to provide their input during the development process, the feasibility and acceptability of the current system have been optimized. This resulted in a unique system that might relief part of the burden that frailty places on elderly people and on health care systems.