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Author: Yu-Chen Huang, Yeh-Liang Hsu (2014-02-07); recommendation: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2014-02-07).
Note: This paper was presented in The 9th World Conference of the International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG 2014), Taipei, Taiwan, 2014/06. Gerontechnology 2014; 13(2):215

Care Delivery Frame - a home telehealth system based on social networking

Purpose  Home telehealth systems generally focus on building connections between home environments and home telehealth service providers, and place technical emphasis on establishing an information platform for health data transmission, storage, and analysis. Although useful vital sign monitoring equipment and information communication technologies are readily available, many researchers and businesses are still attempting to expand coverage, expectations for the widespread adoption of home telehealth services have not been realized in Taiwan. Lacking user motivation is the key. This research suggests a paradigm shift of home telehealth system, from the provision of telehealthcare to enhancing older adults’ interpersonal communication and social participation. “Care Deliver Frame (CDF)”, a personal home telehealth system based on social networking is presented.  Method  Figure 1 illustrates the structure of CDF. A tablet in which the CDF App is installed is the core of the system. Vital sign measurement data from various devices, such as blood pressure/glucose meter, weight scale, etc., are transmitted via Bluetooth to the tablet. Under the SSL and HTTPS data transmission security of Facebook, data are encrypted and then posted to the older adult’s Facebook timeline by using the one touch data-upload button on CDF App interface (Figure 2). Facebook also become the “user interface” of CDF for younger children and family members who are “Facebook friends” of the older adult. Under Facebook privacy settings, children and family members can browse older adult’s vital sign measurement data as well as posting caring messages, photos and videos using regular Facebook App. The older adult is able to read these messages from Facebook displayed in the simplified user interface of CDF App on the tablet. The professional care giver who is a “Facebook friend” of the older adult is allowed to use “Comm & Care” App installed on the smartphone to retrieve vital sign data stored in Facebook. The “Comm & Care” App provides standard home telehealth functions such as multiple user management, graphical display, data analysis and export, event alert, etc. Besides, data can be permanently deleted from Facebook server which is announced by Facebook official announcement. A total of ten older adults, age 55-79, who are not living with their children, participated in user evaluation of CDF. Only one participant had experience using computers. Nine participants suffer hypertension and diabetes. The other one only have diabetes. The average number of interaction occurred through CDF for the participants were collected over more than five months. This research also used Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) to obtain complete and straight-forward user feedbacks. Results & Discussion  During the evaluation period, each participant had 1.79 to 3.50 times interaction per day in Facebook by using CDF. From QCA, CDF was well accepted by the older participants and their children because of the increased motivation by including older adults into social networking. The scale required for implementing home telehealth functions in CDF is simplified to installing Apps on personal mobile devices and the cost is reduced. In addition to tracking vital sign data and providing timely healthcare to the older adults, family members form a small “family social network” to have interpersonal communication and share life experiences with the older adults.

Keywords: Communication & Governance, home telehealth system, social networking

Figure 1. CDF system structure

Figure 2. CDF App user interface