[email protected]: Linux For Elderly Healthcare
With the projected increase in the elderly population, the rising cost of health-care, and the lack of available resources to those with Alzheimer's and other neuro-degenerative diseases, a new technology start-up is hoping to alleviate some of this burden and create a new opportunity for Linux in the next-generation tele-health market. [email protected] is an "aging in place" solution that's designed to keep those with diminished cognitive ability independent and in their own residence for as long as possible. Health information professionals and those with health information management degree will soon be versed. Part of what makes this interesting; however, is that the device is Linux-based -- Ubuntu Linux to be exact. Blue Heron Network LLC, the company behind [email protected], will be formally introducing this solution in the first quarter of 2008, but in this article are some details about this unique Linux-based health-care product.
[email protected] has been actively in development by Blue Heron Network since 2004. Their concept and process throughout this time has remained the same and has proved to them to be reliable. The first generation [email protected] prototype was developed on a Windows-based .NET stack but then converted to being Linux-based and built upon free software. Linux was chosen because of its track record for security, stability, total cost of ownership, and speed. Specifically at its heart is Ubuntu Linux.
The [email protected] product consists of a tabletop device (referred to as the "[email protected] Monitor") that is located with the care receiver and then a web-based control panel to facilitate the caregiver interaction. The [email protected] Monitor is a touch-screen display device (no keyboard or mouse) with a small form factor and a networking interface (via a wired, wireless, or cellular connection) that communicates with the [email protected] network.
The [email protected] Monitor is essentially a "lightweight Internet desktop environment" that's capable of integrating a variety of services but aside from the touch-screen input, it's all managed remotely by caregiver(s), which could consist of the care receiver's family or professional services. Below is a picture of one of the working [email protected] prototypes.
Via an Internet connection and web browser, the caregiver(s) can create messages that display on the [email protected] Monitor as well as managing a phone/address book, displaying photographs on the monitor, managing photo albums, personal medical information, and other features. There are elderly enhancements to all of these areas such as supporting an image-driven phone book as opposed to just plain text. Remotely, caregivers can intuitively tweak this Linux-based environment to change the audio level on the [email protected] Monitor along with the font size/type and even the theme/appearance. The selectable themes include optimizations for care receivers with Macular Degeneration and other eye impairments.