Kup-Sze Choi received the Ph.D. degree in computer science and engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Nursing of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Director of the Centre for Smart Health. His research interests include virtual reality and artificial intelligence and their applications in medicine and healthcare.
Promoting Health Literacy to Elderly People through Video Conferencing
To promote healthy ageing, it is essential to equip elderly people with adequate health literary, thereby enhancing their self-care ability. Conventionally, health care education is delivered to elderly people face-to-face by domain experts through health talks or workshops. While this is a direct and intuitive approach, cost-effective methods are necessary to adapt to the ageing population. Information and communication technologies can play an important role here. Video conference (VC) has been a commonplace for business nowadays. It enables participants at different locations to meet online through telephone or computer network. Travelling time and cost for meetings are thus avoided. By leveraging VC systems, this study explored an innovative and effective approach to promote primary healthcare in the community.
A one-hour health workshop was conducted for elderly people using VC system. The workshop introduced health-enhancing light exercises from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspectives. It involved three geographically separated parties, including a TCM practitioner and two groups of 15 elders in two elderly centres. The three parties were connected using a VC system which allowed them to interact via real-time audio and video signals. Through the system, TCM concepts relevant to the exercises were introduced. The elderly people were also guided by the remote practitioner to do exercises. They could also talk to the practitioner during the question-and-answer session. A questionnaire using 5-point Likert scale (1=worst, 5=best) was administered at the end to evaluate the acceptance and quality of the workshop.
The 30 participants all aged above 60 years. 90% aged between 60 and 90 years while half of them aged between 70 and 79 years. Less than 10% of the participants were male. The participants were satisfied with the services of the TCM practitioner (4.77+/-0.5) who could fully answer their questions (4.5+/-0.68) through VC. They agreed that their satisfaction level would be similar if the workshop was conducted face-to-face (4.47+/-0.73) and they were willing to use the VC system (4.57+/-0.57).
The proposed VC-based approach for delivering health care education was welcomed by the participants although some still preferred face-to-face communication. Since the use of VC enables health care education to reach more elderly people simultaneously while saving time and cost, it is worthwhile to further investigate the feasibility to be a routine approach.