The Future of Elderly Care: How Digital Health Startups Are Shaping the Landscape
A man and his daughter look at a computer screen reviewing a prehabilitation assignment
By Mitchell Lee
August 4, 2023
Key Takeaways:
• Contrary to popular opinion, older adults can use technology, allowing providers to streamline healthcare processes.
• Digital health startups are pivotal in transforming care for older adults, utilizing cutting-edge technologies like remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and AI-powered analytics.
• These innovative solutions can enhance access to care, improve health outcomes, and empower seniors to manage their health actively, addressing the challenges the aging baby boomer generation brings and the increasing demand for elderly care worldwide.
• At Ooney, we have developed technology that is shaping a healthier future for the older adult population. Our web-based application, PrehabPal, delivers personalized prehabilitation, pre-surgery education, and optimization to patients in their homes.
The “silver tsunami,” brought about by the aging of the baby boomer generation, has led to an escalating demand for high-quality elderly care worldwide. Older individuals are already estimated to account for more than half of the medical procedures in the United States.1 As older adults continue to live longer, the post-pandemic era presents unique challenges for the healthcare industry, necessitating adaptations to cater to the specific needs of seniors.

The Surgery Wellness Program (SWP) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) was an early in-person solution to the pressing need for a preoperative rehabilitation program. However, despite positive patient response, 30% of referred patients could not participate due to transportation burdens and conflicting preoperative appointments. Luckily, Ooney’s web-based application PrehabPal addresses this limitation by educating and preparing older adults in their homes remotely.

Playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of elderly care, a wave of digital health startups have emerged, harnessing cutting-edge technologies to revolutionize healthcare delivery and support healthcare providers in addressing this urgent need. These digital health startups are capitalizing on advancements in technology and changes to reimbursement standards to develop innovative solutions tailored to the distinctive requirements of the elderly population. These companies are introducing state-of-the-art tools that promote proactive health management, remote monitoring, and improved access to care, all of which have become increasingly vital as the number of older adults seeking support from hospitals continues to surge.

Emerging technologies such as remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and artificial intelligence (AI) are profoundly transforming elderly care. Remote patient monitoring enables continuous health surveillance, empowering healthcare professionals to remotely track vital signs, medication adherence, and activity levels. Telehealth platforms facilitate virtual consultations, significantly improving convenience and accessibility to specialized care for seniors with limited mobility. Moreover, AI and machine learning algorithms analyze vast datasets to identify patterns, predict health risks, and provide personalized recommendations, assisting in disease diagnosis, chronic condition monitoring, and precision medicine.

Personalized healthcare, made possible by technology, offers tailored care plans and interventions based on individual needs and health data. This empowering approach allows seniors to actively participate in their care, improving health outcomes. More specifically, digital health startups facilitate home healthcare, enabling seniors to age in place while receiving essential support through remote monitoring, telehealth services, and home-based care. By eliminating common inconveniences, Ooney’s home-based surgery preparation program is based on clinician experience and is tailored to each patient.

Furthermore, digital health solutions address the crucial aspects of social connection and mental well-being among older adults, effectively countering loneliness and social isolation through virtual support groups, social engagement activities, and mental health services.
Based on surgical and clinical experience by esteemed doctors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Ooney integrates medical expertise with innovative technology to offer comprehensive and patient-centered pre-surgery intervention for seniors. The platform seamlessly combines patient education, coaching, and motivation to provide personalized care plans and preventive interventions. Ooney’s unique access and approach include content and guidance from interdisciplinary care teams comprising physicians, nurses, older adults, and allied healthcare professionals, ensuring that older adult patients receive effective prehabilitation.
Currently, Ooney continues to participate in multi-site randomized clinical trials for colorectal cancer patients at UCSF, MD Anderson, and Stanford. Coupled with the success of Ooney’s usability study, the technology and procedure of Ooney are a promising solution to the lack of personalized healthcare for the growing older population.

Digital health startups are revolutionizing the landscape of elderly care by harnessing emerging technologies to address the challenges posed by the “silver tsunami” and the growing need for healthcare support for older adults. The significance of digital health for older adults cannot be underestimated, as these innovative solutions enhance access to care, improve health outcomes, and empower seniors to manage their health. Ooney with guidance from respected surgeons and clinicians at UCSF, exemplifies this transformative approach by combining medical expertise with advanced technology to provide impactful care for seniors. As the future unfolds, the collaboration between digital health startups, healthcare professionals, and technology will continue to shape the landscape of elderly care, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for our senior population.
1.Ogomori, Kelsey. “Prehab Pal: A Digital, Interdisciplinary Geriatric Surgery Wellness Program.” UCSF School of Medicine, 2021, 2.

Photo: Kampus Production