AARP Innovation Labs and The Howard University College of Medicine’s 167 Health Innovations Project have announced a partnership to explore the use of biometric and other technology to enhance healthcare access for those with chronic conditions in medically underserved communities.

Two initial clinical pilot projects will focus on improving diabetes management and medication adherence, with the aim of conducting additional pilots down the road that will focus on other conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, genetic disorders, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

The first pilot will look at proactive voice-first technology that relies on facial recognition for reminding patients to take their meds. The second will be the creation of an online digital health community that connects people with others who take the same medications, with the aim of empowering them by creating a support network.

“The partnership combines the strengths of two great organizations, while enhancing tech and innovation initiatives for the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Hugh Mighty, dean of Howard University’s College of Medicine and vice president of clinical affairs.

The partnership is built around AARP Labs providing Howard University with a variety of tech — and technical support — including biometric face and voice recognition, mobile apps, augmented and virtual reality, wearables, sensors, and artificial intelligence. The tech will then be used in concert with Howard University’s research and care models to determine its short and long-term effectiveness.

This work comes at a time when older and multicultural communities are being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Due to movement restrictions intended to mitigate the spread of the virus, remote healthcare is of increasing importance, particular to vulnerable communities such as these.

“Now more than ever, our most vulnerable communities need critical support to stay connected and educated through innovative measures,” said Nigel Smith, Director, AARP Innovation Labs. “We’re proud to collaborate with Howard University and focus on solutions to help underserved populations better manage their chronic conditions and live healthier lives, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

“It is important that all communities have access to innovative digital solutions,” added Michael Crawford, Howard University’s associate dean for strategy, outreach, and innovation. “The AARP partnership allows us to test, scale, and accelerate the use of tech solutions for 50+ medically underserved.”

June 19, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis