Thursday, August 6, 2009

Alzheimer's: Where Art Thou?

Placing some sort of GPS tracking device on patients has proven incredibly useful for knowing the whereabouts of patients who are likely to go missing, escape, or wander off and not receive the care they require for their condition. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that in 2009:

* As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s.
* Alzheimer's and dementia triple healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and older.
* Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s.
* Alzheimer's is the seventh-leading cause of death.
* The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year.

There are many GPS devices marketed to both care givers and medical professionals. A higher degree of sophistication has led to more thoughtful ergonomic designs and a wider range of tracking and reporting capabilities. Both RFID and GPS have provided solutions, with GPS having a definite advantage in its ability to locate without regard to specialized receivers found in RFID systems.

Current emphasis on designs are for bracelet and belt devices, special placement in clothing, and newly introduced GPS-equipped shoes. The challenge for this disease is securing the device to be nonobtrusive and affixed to a patient without his or her ability to remove it. Digital Angel was an early pioneer in this space, with the more recent Columbia medical bracelet becoming available in the U.S. The Columba is monitored via Assisted GPS and has a GSM/GPRS transmitter/receiver with a SIM card for voice and data.

1 comment:

  1. Because of the rising incidence of Alzheimer’s, it’s good to see
    products on the market that are designed to help protect people from
    the life-threatening behavior of wandering. In February, LoJack
    introduced the LoJack SafetyNet System that incorporates a wristband
    worn by the person at risk that constantly emits a Radio Frequency
    signal, which can be tracked regardless of where the person has
    wandered – even into a densely wooded area, a body of water, a
    concrete structure, or a building constructed with steel. What makes
    LoJack SafetyNet unique is that it is directly integrated with law
    enforcement, works with Project Lifesaver, and its technology enables
    specially trained police to pinpoint the precise location of the missing person.