I love writing stories about successful care coordination programs, so it was great to see the following item turn up in my inbox. It’s a tale of how Meals on Wheels America, the folks who bring hot meals and social support to homebound elders, is using a mobile app to keep care coordinators informed about their clients’ condition.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the project, the background on Meals on Wheels is probably in order. MoW offers what it calls a “more than just a meal” service model, in which staff and volunteers not only deliver food, they visit with clients in their homes and conduct a routine check-in. This puts them in a good position to recognize when problems are emerging.
Hoping to leverage this insight, the charity recently partnered with the West Health Institute and the Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research to develop a mobile app tracking observed changes in clients’ mental or physical health. MoW drivers can use the app, known as “Mobile Meals,” to alert care coordinators to such changes. (Its technology comes from Accessible Solutions’ ServTracler software.)
Once notified, the care coordinator follows up with the client to address their needs and refer them to health or social service agencies as needed.
With the app having gone through successful testing, the partners now expect to roll the program out to as many as 30 MoW sites across the U.S, a move that could impact 40,000 seniors. The app rollout will extend through 2020.
The news announcement doesn’t say what they are, but the app apparently includes a handful of evaluative tools drivers can use. I’d be interested to know what they were, and how the questions were derived. I could certainly see a worthwhile follow-up in which researchers tracked which questions were linked most strongly to positive client outcomes.
In any event, if there’s a better use for mobile healthcare apps I can’t imagine what it would be. With non-clinicians serving as the link between coordinators and clients, a well-designed tool fostering clear communication between two could be quite valuable.
No matter how sophisticated remote monitoring devices get, there will always be benefits to sending a human being out to meet with homebound seniors. Good on MoW for making this happen.