The U.S. Administration on Aging under the Health and Human Services maintains a database of resources available to seniors in the United States. The goal of the eldercare locator program according to the website is to provide users with the information and resources to help older persons live independently and safely in their homes and communities for as long as possible.
The eldercare database provides information about various services including (but not limited to) caregivers, Alzheimer’s, financial assistance, healthy aging, long-term care, legal assistance, and much more.
Recently the Administration on Aging released an application program interface (API) to the database. This got our lead engineer, Mark Silverberg thinking. How might the less tech savvy elderly population access this information?
While there is a number that can be called, it is only available during certain business hours. So we had a problem that the Social Health Insights team thinks needs a solution. In response to this our alpha version of a yet to be named unified voice technology interface was born. Keeping it simple by calling a single phone number, sending a simple text message or calling via services like Skype (or one of the other options below) a user can interact with the Eldercare dataset.
For example by calling or texting your zip code to a phone number, 202-738-5220 an individual can access the resources available on the Eldercare Locator website. Note that the only cost to you to utilize this service is your standard charges (phone or SMS) from your phone service provider.
Once resources have been identified an option to have the resource information sent via SMS is provided. The whole process is very simple. Let’s walk through it.
Step 1: Call or text message your zip code 202-738-5220 from a phone. If you still have a rotary phone that works too.
Step 2: Follow the prompts (on the phone) to find resources in your area or if texting respond with a text message of the resource you want more information on (for example text the #1).
Step 3: When prompted you can opt to receive a SMS message. If you want one, follow the prompts to enter the phone number you want the text messages sent to. They will look something like the following example from area code 20005 (Washington DC).
Example on iPhone4S (Text Message Interaction)
For more information about the Eldercare dataset you can visit here: http://www.eldercare.gov/ELDERCARE.NET/Public/Index.aspx
For more information about the Eldercare API (how we get the data) you can visit here: http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Site_Utilities/API_Reg/API_Registration.aspx
Developers can contribute to this project through the open source Github repository found at https://github.com/marks/tropo-sinatra-eldercare
We want your feedback to help us improve this. We want to hear feedback such as:
- How you are using the platform?
- Do you find it valuable?
- What suggestions do you have for improvement?
- Do you have any suggestions on other data sets you might find valuable to receive in the same fashion?
Thank you in advance for taking the time to provide us feedback either through this blog or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.