How health uses innovation to help older people age independently

Advocate Aurora Enterprises, a Milwaukee-based advocacy firm for Advocate Aurora Health, is building a business and program portfolio to help seniors live longer and healthier lives at home.

The fastest growing population in the U.S. is the elderly, and they are very interested in staying healthy longer and staying at home. With this in mind, health care organizations are developing care management programs that enable seniors to age independently, and are researching and investing in programs that improve home care, including telehealth and digital health.

As Vice President of Strategy and Analysis, Sheetal Sobti leads Advocate Aurora Enterprises ’independent aging category, a Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health subsidiary that promotes innovative solutions to people’s broad health needs. In his role, he is responsible for building a portfolio of health and wellness companies that enable seniors to start their homes independently, comfortably and cheaply.

He recently spoke with HealthLeaders about how Advocate Aurora Enterprises selects companies to add to its portfolio and how they form a strategy to help older adults age independently.

HealthLeaders: How can innovative technologies or services be used to help seniors stay home instead of going to a nursing home?

Sheetal Sobti: We’ve seen that most seniors want to be in a familiar environment; they often raised families there and where they have friends and relatives in the community. For many older adults, having comfort in the home avoids social isolation, which can lead to physical and mental health. There is also the economic benefit of aging, as living in the elderly can be expensive.

However, many elderly people have to live with their families or move to a nursing home because of a harmful event in the home; they fall or cannot meet their needs. If we help keep them safe, this will ensure that they can stay at home longer and more comfortable.

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

That’s why Advocate Aurora Enterprises has invested in Senior Helpers, which connects seniors with caregivers who help with activities of daily living, such as getting in and out of the shower or going up and down stairs. Now, with the addition of MobileHelp, we are introducing our service portfolio with technology to provide an extra layer of security and safety to provide greater peace of mind for seniors and their families.

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

Sobti: Our goal is to continue to build a portfolio of innovative health and wellness solutions that help people live well at all stages of life by diversifying our income. In terms of aging independently [landscape], we look at the types of solutions that seniors and their caregivers buy. We ask them, How can we make their lives easier?

We then take advantage of our clinical specialization, which includes connecting these solutions to the ongoing breadth of care. We look at what happens when the elderly are sick, as well as what happens when they are well. We complement the image by connecting traditional home health care offerings, as well as our use and risk management experience, with the technologies and services that make up clinical care.

What we would avoid could be anything that falls within the basic clinical framework of Advocate Aurora Health.

Q. How are healthcare providers dealing with these products or businesses? Are you looking for technologies or services that integrate with your primary care provider or local healthcare system?

Sobti: We love using technology to connect medical professionals with services that can 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 way, Xealth is a key driver of our portfolio, helping to achieve synergies between solutions and vendors. For example, in the future, if a doctor discharges a patient and says no one is preparing medication or meals at home, the clinic may use a platform like Xealth to identify the temporary need for such care services. Provided by Senior Assistants.

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

Sobti: It’s a big change, not just for consumers, but for health systems as well. But there is greater readiness in the post-COVID world.

Today’s healthcare systems are competing in the same space of moving technology companies with much more capital, broader consumer bases and, in fact, a deeper 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 come together where consumers are.

G. How does Advocate Aurora Enterprises contribute to the Advocate Aurora healthcare system? Does the health care system identify trends in access to or testing of promising new technologies or services?

Sobti: We have done a lot of research on the market trends and solutions that make up clinical care to improve the health of the whole person. Thus, Advocate Aurora Enterprises identified its three main axes: independent aging, family development, and personal support and well-being.

Part of the reason we exist is to help expand Advocate Aurora Health’s business portfolio as healthcare systems across the country navigate major industrial challenges, from stagnant rates of return to increased competition. And we share a goal to help people live well. So this is likely to be the moment when the healthcare system chooses to offer proven solutions that Advocate Aurora Enterprises invests or acquires.

Q. What new technology or strategy are you currently studying? Is it in the sky for health innovation?

Sobti: When it comes to purchasing our MobileHelp, our focus is on integrating and identifying synergies that make it even easier for seniors to age on the spot. We are excited to be able to link Elderly Care Home Personal 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 and at the same time lighten the burden on caring families. And we will continue to focus on expanding our care to help people live well at all stages of their lives.

Eric Wicklund is the Editor of Innovation and Technology at HealthLeaders.

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