RemoCare: A Smartphone App to Detect and Prevent Falls

Shot of a young medical practitioner using a digital tablet in a hospital

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Teresa Lee, Clinical Manager, Advanced Practice Nurse

Project Title: Intelligent Mobile and Web-Based Alerts Application to Help Detect and Prevent Falls in the Long-Term Care Setting

What is the issue?

About 15 per cent of long-term residents in Canada experience a fall in any given month. Falls can result in serious injury. Because care staff in long-term care homes do not see most falls, it is difficult to understand why they happened or how to prevent them in the future.

What did we do?

We tested a smartphone app called RemoCare. It uses a smartphone camera to monitor movement in a resident’s room. When it detects a fall, it keeps a 30-second recording of the room before the fall and alerts staff members on their smartphones. We wanted to know if the app could detect falls for five long-term care residents who were at risk of falling  and if the video could provide useful information to prevent future falls. We asked residents, families and staff if they would be willing to integrate this type of technology into their care.

What did we find?

Residents and family members were interested in trying an app that had potential to identify ways to reduce falls. However, the RemoCare app needs further testing as there were 82 false alarms. Valuable staff time was spent responding to these. We were unable to test RemoCare’s ability to identify a fall as none of the residents fell within the range of the smartphone’s camera.