Youville House Residents Get "Tech Support" From Harvard-Grown Startup

The effects of age-related physical and cognitive decline can pose endless difficulties for seniors trying to take advantage of modern technology. Even seemingly simple tasks that younger people perform automatically – such as logging on to web sites, texting, remembering passwords or knowing where to type in an email address – can seem impossible for someone with arthritis, memory impairment, poor vision, or other age-related ailments. Without significant assistance, many seniors decide that keeping up with the world of computers and smart phones is simply too overwhelming.

When seniors don’t have access to modern technology, they miss out on valuable opportunities to connect with loved ones. A group of MBA candidates at the Harvard Business School is trying to change that with “PrintoGram,” a service they have created that provides seniors access to a variety of electronic communications, without requiring them to learn a thing. The students have installed PrintoGram at Youville House for a month-long trial run.

The process for using this service is simple. Those wishing to contact a resident at Youville can send their texts, emails, or photos to ThePrintoGram@gmail.com and include the resident’s name and room number in the body of the message.  A printer installed in the computer area at Youville House will automatically print out the messages.  Youville staff will check the printer daily and distribute the messages to residents.

According to Shivanth Bhaskaran, a student who helped install the printers at Youville, “Polls have shown that teenagers and younger adults believe they are in sufficient contact with their grandparents. But for the grandparents, the phone calls they receive every three or four months don’t feel sufficient. We are interested in seeing if facilitating access to email and electronic messages will make the residents at Youville, and their families, feel more connected.”

Youville will have access to the PrintoGram service through May 1st, so be sure to send your messages while you can! Over the course of the trial run, the students will layer in additional software designed to improve the experience of the recipients.  The PrintoGram team is also seeking out Youville residents and family members who might like a printer installed in their apartments.  To discuss the process for installing a printer in a resident’s apartment, please contact Eric Benjamin at ebenjamin@mba2015.hbs.edu.

Click here to access the PrintoGram web site and see a firsthand testimonial from a Youville resident!