Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors

Westchester’s innovative Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors (TIPS) had its national debut at the county’s “Successful Aging:  It’s Everybody’s Business” conference in Tarrytown on June 26-27, 2014.

TIPS has been in the forefront of the national telehealth movement.

Westchester County continues to lead the way in developing best practices that help seniors age successfully in their homes and communities. It values the seniors in Westchester and wants them to age successfully. It also realizes that skyrocketing healthcare costs require us to be innovative.

TIPS is a telehealth trailblazer because it combines three key elements to help seniors age successfully:

  • First – clinical monitoring of vital signs, including blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels and weight
  • Second – a complete social check-up to make sure seniors are aware of all the services and programs available – whether it be nutrition, housing, transportation, caregiving or any of our other support programs, and
  • Third – hands-on, intergenerational support from a network of volunteers, including student technicians and nurses from Pace University.

Because TIPS encourages seniors to be proactive about their health it will lower their medical bills because they will need to make fewer trips to doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms.  In turn, Westchester taxpayers, who foot much of the county’s massive Medicare and Medicaid bills will benefit as well.

A study by a featured speaker at the Successful Aging conference – David Lindeman, CEO of the Center for Technology and Aging at the University of California – showed that those savings can really add up.  The study found that for every $1 invested in remote health monitoring up to $1.30 was saved in the first year alone.

Lindeman’s talk was on “The New Era of Connected Aging: Technology Solutions for an Aging Society.” Ryan Olohan, Google Inc.’s national industry director of healthcare, spoke on  “Healthcare Reimagined, and Pramod Gaur, Ph.D., the founder and former CEO of Viterion and Healthanywhere, addressed “Opportunities to Improve Total Population Management Using Telehealth.” 

People at the conference received the text of a PowerPoint presentation about TIPS.

TIPS is sponsored by the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS) and the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services. It was developed in collaboration with Pace University's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. The program’s outreach will continue to benefit more and more seniors throughout Westchester in coming months.

Here is how TIPS works
Ryan Olohan, Google Inc.’s National Industry Director of HealthcareTrained technology students from Pace University visit locations where seniors gather, such as nutrition sites and senior apartment buildings.  Senior’s vital signs – specifically their pulse, weight, oxygen blood level and blood pressure – are measured using computers and other equipment. That data is then transmitted to graduate student nurses at Pace University who review it remotely.  If the tests show cause for immediate concern, the nurse will contact the seniors, their caregivers or primary care physicians directly.

Each senior leaves the session with a “TIPS Sheet,” a comprehensive assessment that includes their results of their vital sign tests, an explanation of what the results mean, and, if needed, other relevant information such as referrals.

In addition to the physical check-up, TIPS case managers speak with each senior to learn if they might need any support services in the county such as nutrition, transportation, housing or caregiving. Because of this personal, one-on-one connection, the county likes to say  that TIPS is “high-tech” and “high-touch.” 

Many seniors experienced TIPS first-hand at its local launch during “Salute to Seniors” at the County Center last May so they know how outstanding it is and how it can help them.

At the Salute, the county captured vital signs for more than 180 seniors, and of those seniors, 71 percent showed “above normal” blood pressure readings. 

The county may have even saved two lives because nurses had to immediately contact physicians for two seniors with severely high blood pressure.

“Telehealth has become a common and trusted tool to help seniors age better, but TIPS is much more all-inclusive than other programs,” said Mae Carpenter, DSPS Commissioner. “Westchester is leading the way in telehealth services by combining the best technology available for remote monitoring with other well-established Westchester programs through our Livable Communities Initiative.

Two of those programs are Care Circles of Westchester and Caregiver Coaching. A care circle is a group of volunteers who help an individual with basic needs of daily living that cannot be met with public funds, such as walking the dog or providing companionship.  Caregiver Coaches are volunteers trained by professionals who help the senior and family caregivers meet their challenges and responsibilities. 

In coming months, TIPS will be offered at an increasing number of sites throughout Westchester. For more information about the TIPS program, read the brochure or call (914) 813-6408.

Read about the second day of the conference and keynoter Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., one of the nation's foremost visionaries on the "longevity revolution."

Download the complete conference program.

Photo: Ryan Olohan, Google Inc.’s National Industry Director of Healthcare, was a featured speaker at the Successful Aging conference.