Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2012 Contents All bases covered
From assistive technology to
futuristic prototypes, Stephen
Easton takes a look at some new
developments in Australian health
and aged care technology.
In this field, clever design is more
important than cutting-edge scientific
breakthroughs. These examples of
assistive devices come from final year
Product Design Engineering students
from Swinburne University (Vic), who
designed them for their thesis projects.
One of the most recent crop of
students came up with a shower recess
that lets people clean their entire body,
including their whole back and feet,
irrespective of any mobility limitations.
Two other graduates imagined clever
mobility aids, called Mobix and Exile, for
their final projects.
The Exile is a walker with electric
hub motors that allow it to be used as a
powered shopping trolley or a ride-on
scooter, and it folds down to separate,
compact parts. Mobix, on the other hand,
has extra features like a sliding seat
and modular storage, and also folds up
neatly. Its designer aimed to create "an
interchangeable product for everyone, not
just the elderly and disabled".
The program coordinator, Associate
Professor Dr Soullis Tavrou, would love
to hear from any organisations that are
interested in lending their market knowledge
and expertise as research partners, working
with the final year students.
Look out for more of the same coming
out of Swinburne in future; Dr Tavrou
says the Faculty of Engineering and
Industrial Sciences is building a new
facility just for designing products to
give older people greater independence,
furnished with motion capture and
strength measuring technology.
For reliable and independent advice
about assistive technology that's already
out there, the Independent Living Centre
in your state -- or their website -- is an
excellent place to start. For example, the
NSW ILC currently has 18 categories with
over 6,000 assistive products listed and
soon, all the states will pool their libraries
together into one national database of
assistive products. And the ILCs truly are
independent -- none has any interest in
selling one product over another.
THE WORLD OF SOFTWARE
A panel of aged care software vendors
have been selected, and will soon begin
working with the National E-health
Transition Authority (NEHTA) on
standards and protocols to make sure
Personally Controlled eHealth Records
play nicely with all of the sector's clinical
software programs. NEHTA and these
chosen vendors are busily preparing
for July 1, when the system is slated to
begin operating (see Dale Fisher's article
on page 32).
One of the companies working with
NEHTA, Epicor, is currently developing a
rostering and award management solution
specifically for community care, as well as
"occasionally connected mobile access"
for their existing Senior Living solution.
The idea is that care providers in the
field can still collect client data at the
point of care, without needing a constant
connection to the main system.
Mobile devices with cameras are also
good for wound management, using
software like ComCare, which was
developed by community care provider
Silver Chain and is now sold through its
division EOS Technologies. Currently
the number of wounds in Silver Chain's
database is approaching 20,000, making
it one of the world's largest collections of
data on wound care.
In development for future versions
of ComCare is Route Optimisation and
Visit Allocation (ROVA), which uses an
advanced 'genetic algorithm' combined
with Google Maps to allow efficient and
intelligent management of workers out
on the road, while respecting whatever
priorities the user sets.
Another upcoming feature called
'spacial lists' lets the user select all clients
inside an area simply by drawing a line
around it on the map. Results can be
limited to clients with a 'crisis evacuation'
alert on file, in the event of an emergency.
Aged care software from a number
of vendors is also available on a pay-
as-you-go basis though the Aged Care
which NEC Australia developed in
partnership with the Aged Care Industry
IT Council (ACIITC).
Other cloud-based solutions are hosted
independently, like Aged Care Metrics,
a unique and powerful new business
intelligence tool launched by Mirus
Australia on 1 February. ACM puts all
The Mobix mobility aid
(image: Swinburne University]
Epicor's Senior Living solution (image: Epicor) Future versions of ComCare might feature
'spacial lists' (image: EOS Technologies)
46 | MARCH -- APRIL 2012 | AAA
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