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April 2020

Physiotherapist with patient jpeg Mansfield District Hospital physiotherapist Susan McCormick with Neil Phipps.

Mansfield first with falls prevention technology

In an Australian first, revolutionary technology is being deployed at Mansfield District Hospital to help prevent older people from falls.

Debilitating injuries from falls represent one of the greatest clinical risks in aged care and cost the Australian health care system an estimated $3.9 billion annually.

More than 125,000 people aged 65 and over were hospitalised due to falls in 2016/2017.

Advanced risk modelling for early detection (ARMED) was developed in the UK.

The technology uses data from a wearable smart watch device, body composition scales and a grip strength test.

ARMED measures and analyses changes in the factors critical to an individual’s risk of falls, such as daily activity levels, inactivity, sleep quality, heart rate, weight, muscle mass, hydration levels and strength.

By analysing the data on a continuous basis against known risk factors, ARMED can identify and predict escalating falls risk for an older or frail individual.

Low, medium and high-alert flags are raised up to 32 days in advance, providing carers and physicians with the information required to institute specific measures to avert life-threatening and debilitating falls.

Mansfield District Hospital’s initial six-month project using ARMED predicts and prevents falls among its residential and community aged care clients.

Mansfield District Hospital Chief Executive Officer Cameron Butler said the roll-out put the hospital at the forefront of proactive care.

‘Within aged care, falls represent our greatest clinical risk where the outcomes can be poor.

‘This can be the same for those living in the community where a fall may mean they are no longer able to live at home.

‘Our aim is to significantly reduce the number of falls occurring within our aged care clients.

‘We are proactively seeking to address improved well-being and independence through falls prevention and are excited to be the first health service in Australia to use ARMED.

‘Innovative solutions such as ARMED are changing the way we approach and look at providing care to older Australians,’ Mr Butler said.

ARMED project leader Edward Slocombe said the Australian-first application followed successful deployment at a number of UK sites with results that highlighted the role of digital technology in transforming preventative care for older people.

‘By combining predictive analytics modelling with data from wearable technology, and health and social care data, we have a powerful tool to identify risks earlier in the care cycle.

‘Detecting the risk of falls before they happen, allowing preventative intervention, is a game changer in the support of older Australians, in community home care, retirement living and residential care settings,’ Mr Slocombe said.