Various COVID-19 contract tracing apps are rolling out these days, but if there are people that can't use them, it would be the elderly at nursing and retirement homes. With that, these facilities have started using wearable technology to help keep the retirees safe from the novel coronavirus.
Thus was the case with a senior living facility located in Amarillo, Texas, known as The Legacy.
Easy COVID-19 Contract Tracing with Wearable Tech
In a report by Reuters, the elderly home suspected one of their nurses had the coronavirus, but within five minutes only, the place had a list of people that came in contact with the suspected COVID-19 patient.
The Town Square, senior care facility, made their employees and residents wear a wristband, equipped with a technology that automatically records the wearer's encounters with other people and their whereabouts.
With the wearable tech, they were able to do contact tracing and found out that the suspected nurse had been in contact with 35 other workers and 49 residents.
Although the numbers were high, they were thankful that it saved them days of torturous contract tracing wherein they would have to interview each employee and resident in the area until they came up with the list.
Fortunately, the nurse tested negative for COVID-19, meaning those in contact with her did not need isolation nor testing.
Nevertheless, it showed how effective wearable tech is, especially with a community that isn't tech-savvy and can't use high-end smartphones.
Why Contract Tracing Tools are Important
According to epidemiologists, facilities that have access to quick contact tracing tech and tools following coronavirus infections will have a higher chance of isolating the cases and staying open.
This is incredibly important since countries and states are beginning to re-open despite the millions of confirmed cases and hundreds of thousands of patients that are still fighting for their lives or are still trying to recover.
"It makes you ready to make the best operational decisions at a moment's notice," said the executive director at the LifeWell Senior Living's Legacy facility, Joseph Walter.
The Town Square senior living facility uses wearable tech from CarePredict known as Tempo bracelets, a startup company that recently added contact tracing functionality for elderly homes during the pandemic.
Besides these features, Tempo bracelets also function as a call button for the staff whenever a resident requires their assistance, as well as a digital room key, and a health and activity tracker.
According to the company, their tech costs $1 per day per user, and currently, there are more than 20 facilities in the United States using their product.
Sidestepping Privacy Rules
Although wearable techs have become more useful in these situations, various countries like in Singapore and Australia have been implementing smartphone apps to help with COVID-19 contact tracing.
Nevertheless, this becomes a problem, as Apple and Google have imposed data-privacy rules that limit these smartphone COVID-19 contract-tracing apps.
Although apps are rather free, not everyone has a smartphone capable of installing these contract tracing apps, nor are everyone tech-savvy, especially the elderly who might even forget their phones somewhere.