Mobile app S-Health launched to improve health care for the elderly

(VOVWORLD) - Vietnam officially entered an ‘aging phase’ in 2011 and now has one of the fastest aging populations in the world. The Ministry of Health, with technical and financial assistance from the UNFPA, has developed a mobile app called ‘S-Health’ to provide health care information and services to elderly people and their caregivers and family.
Mobile app S-Health launched to improve health care for the elderly - ảnh 1
Eight months ago, the United Nations Population Fund and the Health Ministry beta tested the “S-Health” mobile app, an Internet-based model that delivers telemedicine services to older persons to enable them to live a happier, healthier, and more useful life.

Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative for Vietnam, said, “Given the aging process and the prospect of Vietnam’s elderly population growing in coming years, we saw that it will be critical to provide care and services and information to older persons in Vietnam.”

“Mobile applications are a form of doing that, because they’re easy to use and accessible by the target population. And we are operating on the concept of leaving no one behind for the 2030 sustainable development goal agenda, so we don’t want elderly persons to be left behind in Vietnam’s development process,” she added.

The S-Health app is available on the App Store for IOS or the Google Play Store for Android smartphones.

It provides up-to-date information on common diseases that affect older persons, proper nutrition for them, and advice on caring for them.

It allows older persons to monitor their daily health indicators and manage their personal schedules for taking medicine or getting health check-ups.

According to UNFPA expert Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, S-Health aims to ensure a healthy aging society that leaves no one behind.

“When we worked with the Ministry of Health, we took into account that the elderly may have difficulty using the app, so the health information provided by the app is useful not only for the elderly, but also for middle-aged people, and even young people who want to prepare for growing older," said Ms. Quynh.

Mobile app S-Health launched to improve health care for the elderly - ảnh 2S-Health mobile app for health care of older persons is launched at a ceremony in Hanoi on September 29, 2021. (Photo: UNFPA Vietnam)

At the end of the beta test period, most users agreed that the app is reliable and easy to use, and will be useful for older persons who have no caretaker and anyone else who does not have regular medical check-ups.

With continued technical assistance from UNFPA and financial support from the Japanese government, the S-Health app has been upgraded to provide free health care information to elders and others.

Nguyen Hoa Binh, Deputy Chairman of the Vietnam Association of the Elderly, said, “Vietnam has paid much attention to caring for the elderly. The Government has promulgated an elderly healthcare program until 2030, which includes building institutions and policies, mobilizing the community, and improving medical facilities that care for older persons. We welcome the application of IT to the dissemination of information on how to take care of the health of the elderly.”

The app allows family members to contact each other so they can help the elderly use the app, share health information, and manage their health status remotely.

According to UNFPA expert Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, the SOS button in the app is important for older persons, especially those who live alone and might find themselves in trouble.

"If he or she falls or suffers a sudden health problem at home or outside, they only need to press the SOS button to automatically send their GPS location to their family members,” she said.

S-Health also connects to family doctor networks and nursing homes to help them provide faster care in emergency situations.

The app has been designed to be age-friendly in terms of contrast and colors, and its voice search feature allows users to ask a question out loud and receive a verbal response. This feature is very important and preeminent because older persons often experience a decline in visual acuity and manual dexterity that makes it difficult to type on an on-screen keyboard. COVID-19 prevention and control and healthcare during flood emergencies are two extended features of the app.

According to Deputy Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan, one important aspect of the app is that it reduces an elderly person’s dependence on other people.

The S-Health app will provide:

  • Information on common diseases of older persons, how to maintain good and relevant nutrition, and how to take care for older persons, using videos and pictures.
  • Information for older persons to prepare themselves in prevention and responses to COVID-19. It is updated regularly from official information sources of the Ministry of Health.
  • Functions for older persons to monitor their health indicators daily such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels.
  • An SOS button which older persons or their family members can call for emergency support.
  • A list of facilities in the neighborhood which offer health care services and equipment for older persons. In the future, it will connect older persons with family doctors similar to a “Grab” taxi network.