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Seniors care and digital health

April 2, 2015

Join the Canadian Medical Association (@CMA_Docs) as it hosts its very first tweetchat at #hcsmca on the topic of seniors care, digital health and social media on April 8, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

By Pat Rich (@cmaer) and Dominique Jolicoeur, Canadian Medical Association 

headshot Pat Rich

Pat Rich

headshot Dominique Jolicoeur

Dominique Jolicoeur

Seniors care, digital health and social media: On the surface the fit would seem to be natural and of huge potential benefit for patients and the Canadian health care system.

Many older Canadians have multiple chronic diseases and low mobility both of which could benefit enormously from telehealth, mobile technology and other supports that allow remote access to care and services.

In addition, many seniors have lost a partner and/or live alone and are prone to the negative impacts on mental and physical health that come from social isolation. If social media and online communities have one proven strength it is the ability to bridge this isolation and allow people to find communities of support.

But are our parents and other older citizens willing and able to embrace these new technologies to help maintain and improve their health?

We all have stories of relatives who have learned how to use the Internet, Facebook or Twitter at an advanced age (my 92-year-old mother is an example) to seek out and gather information or communicate. But are these individuals the norm or just outliers?  Studies indicate it is younger people who are more willing to adopt and use more technologies. This may be even more true with respect to a generation that has different views on privacy and sharing sensitive health information.

Given the potential crisis facing the care of seniors in Canada is surely very important to seek out innovative approaches to helping provide them with better care.

As Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Chris Simpson (@Dr_ChrisSimpson) says:

“Canada’s seniors are not getting the health care they deserve — not even close.  Our system was created over half a century ago to meet the needs of a much younger population and we have not adapted to meet the growing number of aging Canadians.”

The CMA has made development of a national seniors plan (#SeniorsPlan) a priority for its advocacy activities and has just launched a website in conjunction with other associations to support this work (

Join the CMA as it hosts its very first tweetchat at #hcsmca on the topic of seniors care, digital health and social media. Using the CMA Twitter account @CMA_Docs, Dominique Jolicoeur will moderate the #hcsmca chat assisted by @cmaer.

Topics for #hcsmca April 8, 2015 at 1pm ET (time zone converter).

  • T1 Can seniors benefit from digital health and social media?
  • T2 Do you have examples of innovative digital or social media projects aimed specifically at older patients?
  • T3 What are the barriers to involving seniors more on social media to help them improve their health and how can these barriers be overcome.

If you are unable to participate in the chat and/or wish to share your comments in advance please do so.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. The Accidental Amazon permalink
    April 2, 2015 11:43 am

    As a homecare physical therapist in the U.S., this subject interests me greatly and I will be blogging about it myself in the near future. What I see in homecare here is that lots of seniors do use a computer, email, even Facebook, and some have smartphones & do text. But they tend only to connect with families or close friends this way. In order for their outcomes to improve, they also need better in-person care. They complain regularly about how their doctors do not spend enough time with them or are hard to contact. They also often need more direct, in-home assistance. Our visiting nurse agency does offer telemed monitoring for patients with chronic cardiac and pulmonary disorders. We are also involved locally in a healthcare protocal that will be described in a PBS documentary being broadcast here this evening. It involves, among other things, having nurses who help physicians with practice management and keep in close contact patients manage chronic diseases. They are more readily available by phone, see patients in the office and also make home visits. Here’s a link about the documentary.

    I’m hoping to keep in touch with Colleen Young as I write my own post. Very timely subject! Kathi Kolb


  2. The Accidental Amazon permalink
    April 2, 2015 11:44 am

    Just wanted to give you the more direct link to the documentary:


    • @cmaer permalink
      April 2, 2015 1:36 pm

      Thanks for your comments.
      Seniors care can definitely be improved across the whole spectrum starting with in-person care. While social media and new remote technologies can enhance the care seniors receive, ensuring core services are provided and maintained is key to better outcomes.
      Your point that many seniors tend to communicate digitally only with relatives or friends is certainly valid but does not lessen the value of these communication channels.”


  3. April 2, 2015 4:52 pm

    Agreed. This is a very timely topic. I work at an healthcare innovation lab in Toronto and one of the projects we have is testing a mobile application that looks to make use of the social networks of patients by having the patient and their trusted caregivers manage care together. So often seniors have caregivers helping them with their care (whether it be their children, spouses, or friends) and it is very important to include these caregivers when we design services for seniors. Social media channels can be very valuable for caregivers, especially if relatives of the patient who do not live nearby want to be involved in their loved one’s care. I hope to be able to join in for the first half of the chat on Wednesday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • @cmaer permalink
      April 2, 2015 9:10 pm

      Great. Will be interesting to hear more about the mobile app.


  4. April 7, 2015 8:32 am

    Great comments!

    Social media and digital health have contributed significantly to connecting seniors with family members and can be extremely critical for family caregivers in helping them coordinate the care of a senior family member(s).

    Who has examples of the medical community using digital and social technologies in their care of seniors and/or coordinating care with family members?


  5. June 11, 2015 3:07 am

    To improve health worldwide, CDHI collaborates with
    innovators from UCSF and beyond to envision, realize, and
    evaluate game-changing digital health technologies

    Liked by 1 person

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