While telehealth has become increasingly popular during the pandemic, telehealth for seniors has been around since at least June 26, 2014, when Westchester County in New York debuted their innovative Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors (TIPS) . Since then, TIPS has been at the forefront of the national telehealth movement.
What Is “Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors” (TIPS)?
TIPS helps seniors age successfully by combining 3 key elements:
- Clinical monitoring of vital signs such as weight, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
- Social check-ups to ensure seniors know about all the programs and services available, including housing, nutrition, caregiving, transportation, or other support programs.
- Intergenerational hands-on support from a network of volunteers that includes social work students and student technicians.
Since TIPS encourages seniors to be proactive about their health, they make fewer trips to hospital emergency rooms and doctor’s offices, which lowers their medical bills . In exchange, Westchester county taxpayers, who help pay for Medicaid and Medicare bills, also benefit. One study found that, in the first year alone, up to $1.30 was saved for each $1 invested in remote health monitoring.
TIPS was developed in collaboration with Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems and is sponsored by a grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Additional funding comes from the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS).
How TIPS Works
Trained technology students visit places where seniors gather, like senior apartment buildings and nutrition sites. The students measure seniors’ vital signs (weight, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen blood level) using computers and other equipment. They then transmit that data to telehealth nurses, who view it remotely. Should the tests show cause for concern, the nurse contacts the senior, their caregiver, or their primary care provider.
Every senior leaves their session with a “TIPS Sheet,” a comprehensive assessment that includes the results of their vital sign tests, what the results mean, and referrals or other relevant information .
On top of the physical assessment, TIPS Social Support Associates (SSAs) talk to each senior to identify whether they need other support services in the county like housing, transportation, nutrition, or caregiving. Due to this one-on-one personal connection, the county likes to call TIPS “high-tech” meeting “high-touch.”
According to Mae Carpenter, DSPS Commissioner:
-“Telehealth has become a common and trusted tool to help seniors age better, but TIPS is much more all-inclusive than other programs. Westchester is leading the way in telehealth services by combining the best technology available for remote monitoring with other well-established Westchester programs through our Livable Communities Initiative.”
Two of these programs include Caregiver Coaching and Care Circles of Westchester. Caregiver Coaches are volunteers who are trained by professionals to help seniors and their family caregivers meet their responsibilities and challenges. A Care Circle is a group of volunteers who help individuals with needs of daily living that can’t be met with public funding, like providing companionship or walking the dog.
If you or an aging loved one would like more one-on-one assistance with a private care coordinator, using telehealth, contact Amelia Home Care today and ask about our Virtual Care program. (929) 333-3955
- Westchester Gov, Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors, https://seniorcitizens.westchestergov.com/telehealth-tips
- Taya Hamilton et al, PubMed, Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors: An Observational Study of a Community-Embedded Health Monitoring Initiative, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30994409/
- Telehealth Intervention Programs for Seniors, Understanding My Vital Signs, https://seniorcitizens.westchestergov.com/images/stories/pdfs/201806tipsSheet.pdf