Would seniors use technology if it could keep them independent and safe?

University of Ottawa researcher Mirou Jaana’s SSHRC-funded study will provide national data on seniors’ attitudes and behaviours toward health information technology solutions.

Some photos may include individuals who have passed away. With permission from the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, we include this photo to honour and celebrate their contributions to the Perley Rideau community.

Can information technologies (IT) help seniors living at home—and their health providers—better manage their chronic diseases and support their well-being? That question has been at the heart of Dr. Mirou Jaana’s research for over a decade.

The professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management is driven by technology’s potential to help the growing seniors population, many of whom live with chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes and heart failure.

Home-based care

Jaana believes technology could be part of supporting seniors being cared for in their community, outside of hospitals and long-term care facilities. Understanding how technology is adopted and used would make it possible to give evidence-based recommendations on the most suitable tools for seniors to remain independent and safe in the comfort of their homes.

“Telemonitoring” (also known as “telehomecare”), for example, enables health care providers to monitor patients remotely by transmitting data from a patient’s home to a health-care setting responsible for providing ongoing follow-up, management and treatment. It allows health professionals to detect deterioration in patients’ conditions and intervene early as needed. It is also shown to increase patients’ confidence in their ability to evaluate and address their symptoms, and the effectiveness of the measures they take to deal with them.

Identifying adoption benchmarks

Although certain technologies have been around for decades, there are no benchmarks for telling whether seniors in the community would be open to health care technologies, and would use these tools.

Jaana’s research is looking at seniors’ adoption of health IT (for example, telemonitoring and fall detection technologies, wearables, mobile apps for health, online e-health tools), evaluating their impacts on the well-being of the elderly and their use of health services, and investigating what factors affect whether seniors adopt and use these technologies.

Jaana holds a PhD in health management and policy from the University of Iowa, with a concentration/certificate in health informatics, and did a postdoctoral fellowship in IT in health care at HEC Montreal. Her research has been evolving right at the intersection of IT and health care management.

“When I joined Telfer School of Management in 2007, my research fell in the cracks between granting agencies. At that time health care was positioned as an industry in need of applying and leveraging technology,” says Jaana. “The research landscape is transforming and I am happy to see that it is more open to these ideas. I take pride in contributing to this transformation as more funding opportunities for research are becoming available, thus yielding impactful projects and advancements in this field.”