Elderly patients need not leave their homes to go to a hospital for healthcare services. Instead, healthcare may be brought right into the comfort of their homes.

According to Dr. Mohamed Jamal Deen, president of the Academy of Science, Royal Society of Canada, this will be achieved via ICT mechanisms which will make “Automatic Smart Homes” possible. Dr. Deen is a leading expert in modeling, design and applications of modern advanced semiconductor devices and circuits.

Deen delivered a lecture on “Smarter Homes, Better Healthcare” recently  during an event organized by the Department of Science and Technology-National Academy of Science and Technology (DOST-NAST) held at the Manila Hotel.

According to him, the improvement of public healthcare, medicine, and nutrition has caused an increase in the elderly population worldwide which has spawned the need for better quality healthcare services.

Deen stressed that whenever elderly people have to go to the hospital or clinic, “they will have to walk, climb stairs, stand inside the elevator, wait for their turn at the doctor’s clinic.”

An Automatic Smart Home is a solution to this problem. The Smart Home is equipped with ICTs such as wireless communications, low-power electronics, web-based technologies, sensors, and intelligent computing which pick up health information about the patient that help diagnose an illness.  Among others, “the sensors will detect when the elderly is going to get up from bed at nighttime, such as when he wants to go to the bathroom,” Deen cited as an example.

Aside from eliminating patients’ exposure to viruses in a hospital setting, Automatic Smart Homes will also allow early detection of symptoms while making quality healthcare more cost effective and convenient for the elderly.

The microelectronics and nanoelectronics expert also mentioned the inclusion of lit pathways as well as non-intrusive wearables such as vests, which acquire information on the health condition of the person wearing it.

These ICT mechanisms are low cost, non invasive and user friendly, allowing doctors and other medical personnel to remotely monitor their patients’ physiological signs in real time.

“There will be engineers, scientists, arts people and social scientists who will be involved in the development of smart homes,” Deen stated. “They will make sure that their ideas will be turned into good, interesting products that will make people want to buy them and use them.”

The concept of Automatic Smart Homes is the core of an Ubiquitous-Healthcare or U-Healthcare project currently being undertaken by Deen and his team of researchers.

U-Healthcare is a new area in the field of technology which makes use of sensors and motor devices to monitor and improve body conditions among patients.

In his reaction to Dr. Deen’s presentation, Dr. Alvin B. Marcelo of UP Manila mentioned the gaps in the Philippine medical community in the context of Automatic Smart Homes. “It would be great if we train our caregivers, nurses, and others to be telemedicine ready,” opined Marcelo, “then their role in the smart home concept will improve the ecosystem.”   

He also mentioned the need to invest on research, expand the number of researchers, include eHealth in the school curriculum, and increase the Philippines’ technology transfer capabilities in order to cascade ideas and the benefits of technologies down to the average Filipino.

“Dr. Deen’s research on patient monitoring can empower both onsite and remote caregivers allowing them to collaborate and deliver the best possible care to their clients,” said Marcelo. (S&T Media Service)

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