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Health technology for social isolation

We worked with Telstra Health to design and conduct a research project with health care clients living in the community in regional Queensland, to inform the design and development of new digital products to combat depression that arises from social isolation.

Telstra Health were interested in how elderly and disabled people are addressing the deep issues of social isolation that come with ‘being in care’. They were particularly interested in what role technology plays—or could play—in alleviating this social isolation.

 

Research design

To investigate this problem, we interviewed a range of elderly and disabled people in different living situations in the town of Toowoomba (a regional centre in Queensland, Australia).

In conversations about their healthcare, their technology use, their families and their lives, we uncovered insights regarding technology & accessibility, the importance of the moments of transition in care (especially health ‘milestones’) in affecting social isolation, and the importance of feeling independent whatever the current living situation.

 

We analysed the research collaboratively with Telstra Health so that we could design a strategy together.

Outcomes

Interestingly, age did not seem to be a factor in determining whether people used technology. Instead, a range of other factors, including living situation and family support were far more important in terms of determining the successful integration of technology into someone’s life.

The research was used by  Telstra to form a social inclusion strategy for their MyCareManager product, which included patient-focused training and support.

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