SCAN Health Plan and Rally Health have teamed up to launch an interactive digital platform for SCAN’s senior members.
On the Rally platform, members will be able to join online social groups, set and work towards wellness goals and get information about relevant health topics.
It offers a four-pronged approach towards health, which includes care, wellness, coaching and rewards. Within the platform, users can receive information about how to manage a chronic condition or regarding ways to improve mental well-being. Rally can also help users better their overall health by setting goals and giving rewards when smart health decisions are made.
When SCAN members join Rally, they will gain access to an online social community where they can interact with peers and share experiences.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many seniors to turn to technology as a way to manage their lives.
A survey from the Senior List looked at the technology use of adults over the age of 60 during the pandemic. It found that 24% ordered food or groceries online, 28% had downloaded a new app, 70% shopped online and 77% used the internet to pay bills.
Prior to the pandemic, many seniors participated in social activities such as attending senior centers and church activities, traveling, or seeing friends and family. Now, since seniors are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19, many have been sheltering in place for months.
As a result, experts are concerned for the mental health implications such as the experience of social isolation and loneliness. A study from BioMed Central reports: “Social isolation has been associated with an approximately 50% increased risk of developing dementia, a 29% increased risk of incident coronary heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.”
The study offers several approaches to decrease social isolation as a result of COVID-19.
“These strategies include: raising awareness of the health and medical impact of social isolation and loneliness across the health care workforce and among members of the public; developing innovative technology-based interventions to mobilize the resources from family members, community-based networks and resources that address social isolation and loneliness in older adults; and engaging the health care system to begin the process of developing methods to identify social isolation and loneliness in health care settings,” the authors wrote.
THE LARGER TREND
Technology has become a major method of combating social isolation during the pandemic.
The Department of Health and Human Services is currently hosting a competition for providers, organizations and others to create an online system to target loneliness and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The MENTAL (Mobilizing and Empowering the Nation and Technology to Address Loneliness & social isolation) Health Challenge was specifically created for a platform to be developed for older adults, people with disabilities and veterans.
Health insurer Aetna International recently announced that it is partnering with Wysa, an AI-powered chatbot and mental well-being app, to give members instant access to guided mental well-being support, which can help people to self-manage feelings of anxiety, financial stress and isolation, among others.
Loneliness also impacts young people, and, according to a new study, Fitbit and smartphone devices could help identify college students living with loneliness. Researchers found that their machine learning algorithm was able to predict with 80.2% accuracy binary levels of loneliness and changes in that loneliness level with 88.4% accuracy.
ON THE RECORD
“Now more than ever, technology is a vital link in helping older adults remain healthy and independent while staying safe at home,” said Eve Gelb, senior vice president of member and community health at SCAN, in a statement. “While tech can’t replace in-person interaction, we hope it will support our members by providing some of the connection they may be missing during this time.”