Seniors tune in to current trends

Centre providing valuable informational sessions

By: Bob Liddycoat

Sime Pavlovic, chief information officer at Niagara Health, provided an overview of changing health care at the Thorold Seniors’ Centre. Bob Liddycoat / Thorold News

Last week the Thorold Seniors’ Centre was busy with informational seminars.

Members of the RBC branch on Glendale Ave. stopped by to explain some important issues including estate planning, investing, and Cyber Fraud. Branch Manager Rob D’Amico, Financial Planner Matthew Kalagian and Financial Planner Stephen Phelan were all present to offer tips and answer questions.

On Friday, Sime Pavlovic, chief information officer at Niagara Health, updated members and others on the subject of How Technology is Changing Health Care.

Pavlovic introduced those in attendance to the Niagara Health Navigator. The smart phone app is the first mobile tool for health care in Ontario.

According to Niagara Health, “The Navigator is being designed to put the patient at the heart of an ecosystem of care providers. That ecosystem would include hospital staff, family physicians, specialists, community health teams – even informal caregivers like family.

The app allows users to access real time hospital wait times, access a news feed, provide feedback, compare sites and services and more.

When the Thorold News asked what he considered the key take-away of his presentation, Pavlovic replied, ”Today, the focus was on the Niagara Health Navigator app, which we just launched. We’re looking for their feedback; there are ways for them to let us know if it’s useful to them, and what type of services would they look to have for their segment which would be valuable to them.”

Pavlovic is at the fore of digital technology when it comes to health care but stated, “My view is that it will never be completely digital. I think there will always be a segment that isn’t digital.”

Explaining further, he said, “As an example, if you come into a hospital and want to register the way it’s always been done, you will interact with the hospital in the same way. But if you want to register on your smart phone and have the appointment set up for you, you will have that ability.”

He revealed, “There is an assumption that seniors of a certain age aren’t comfortable with smart devices. But it was noted today that half to three-quarters of the room are active users of social media and some sort of online device.”

He said there were definitely some who aren’t comfortable with the new technology but pointed out that other providers in their circle of health care, like family members and health care providers, can find the tools useful.

RBC Branch Manager Rob D’Amico and his staff offered financial advice and information to Thorold seniors. Bob Liddycoat / Thorold News

“In some cases, the individual may not use the technology but they can get help from a son, daughter or another loved one who is using it who can help them keep track of their appointments, visits and medication. And that can enable access to others. But the other point is that all the other providers in the circle of care of the patient can communicate digitally and streamline the care around the person.”

Health Niagara notes that 60 per cent of patients are treated by multiple caregivers and the Health Navigator can provide real-time access to critical health information on a phone or tablet.

The goal is the Navigator allows patients use their digital identity to book appointments, register in advance at the hospital, or set up reminders and notifications any time on their mobile device.

Pavlovic said seminars, like the one at the Thorold Seniors Centre, are important. “We’re looking to have them engage in a discussion with us versus we in technology; make assumptions about what our patients need. But we want them to be part of the dialogue. It was fantastic to have the opportunity today to have a conversation.”

He concluded, “For me, from a community perspective, I think we’re on an exciting journey. Provincially, we’re pushing how we can use technology but we really want to work with our community to make sure that we are hitting the right notes and focusing on where they see value. We’re open to these conversations and collecting feedback directly to us.”

Niagara Health is asking community members to download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play and provide their feedback on the content.