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Technologies to untie the ties that bind

The fourth-annual "Healthcare Unbound" conference will be held in San Francisco next week, adding a new "Aging Services Track" to the two-day event.

Once a week, my younger brother calls our parents to see how they're doing. I, the not-as-dutiful daughter, am a much less frequent caller.

However, I am equally interested in their safety and well-being, and prefer hopping in the car for the five-hour trek to see them. You can learn a lot from a visual glance--such as do you "really" need to sort through a zillion pill bottles every morning and evening?

As I told my parents, there are technologies out there to help manage such tasks. They rejected my offers to buy them a souped-up pillbox, but were willing to try a low-tech, tackle box-like weekly pill organizer that I had found at a local pharmacy.

I'll keep this lesson in mind, as I head to the fourth-annual Healthcare Unbound conference in San Francisco next week. The conference has added a new "Aging Services Track" to the July 16 to 17 event.

The conference will feature such panels as "Piloting tomorrow's technologies: Challenges and opportunities," "Telehomecare and remote monitoring: What's Next--Now," and "The future of aging services: Provider business models."

The remote monitoring panel, for example, will delve into case studies of providers using telehomecare and the best practices for offering such services. And it will cover how these technologies keep family members, caregivers and health care providers all connected, in some cases, in real time.

Conference goers attending the "Piloting tomorrow's technologies" panel will examine the need for pilot studies to test the most promising technologies, using large test groups.

All this sounds well and good, but, in the end, will low-tech concepts prevail over a daughter's high-tech intentions?