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Leading Home Healthcare Technology at your Doorstep

By: DT News Network
October, 14, 2017

Authored by Rajiv Mathur, Founder , CCU-Critical Care Unified

At present, home-based health care is gaining significant traction and poised for transformation. Once recognized as a fragmented and unorganised sector, it is gaining ground through progressively capturing interest of entrepreneurs and investors.

It is a known fact that there is tremendous pressure on hospitals in delivering services at their facility, especially in Critical Care, something that can be easily outsourced today.

However, it has to be recognised that healthcare services being delivered in the home environment are at a remote location – unlike a hospital where it is a centralised facility. Therefore, monitoring and continuous feedback on key parameters, as relevant to the patient, are critical to have an impact on the outcome of the treatment.

This is eminently possible with appropriate use and incorporation of various technology elements.
With advancements in technology, both in IT and integration with Medical Electronics, it is possible to provide high quality care in the vicinity of a known and comfortable environment.

Technology can play an important role and impact the following areas:

1. Creating positive patient experiences

2. Creating an environment and providing data for better outcomes of the treatment

3. Enable home healthcare to be delivered in remote areas

The goal of technology-enabled home care also encompasses helping reduce need for institutional care, while alleviating financial and emotional burden that medical procedures come with. Its kernel of success lies in the common knowledge that chronic diseases can be treated in the home of the patient through appropriate and continuous monitoring. This monitoring could then trigger medical interventions that may be required, most of which can be implemented in a home care setting at a lower cost to the patient.

Use of technology could be leveraged in providing near real time information, which aids in monitoring key parameters to check the progress and effectiveness of the treatment for the ailment. This information can be made accessible to key stakeholders in the ecosystem, such as the treating doctor, nursing staff, other clinicians and the patient's family, thereby streamlining communication at each step.

Technology can be helpful to teams of care-givers by creating vital links that facilitate communication, coordination, and improved collaboration, especially in the world today being dominated with mobile devices.

Remote monitoring enables doctors to consult and review patient data in real-time, thus reducing emergency admissions and the number of home visits and appointments needed. Apart from this, technology profoundly empowers patients in rapid convalescence; the volume of patients increase and tricky cases can be diagnosed through rapid participation from the medical fraternity across the globe. Most importantly, remote monitoring is successfully transforming the state of health care in rural or emerging markets, making expensive procedures more accessible for serious ailments. This has created an ideal situation for diagnosis of critical conditions such as sleep apnoea, where compliance data may be an ongoing requirement. Alongside, other chronic ailments, such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory problems that require ongoing intervention, can be cured with positive results, today.

Telehealth applications can enhance the management of the high-risk population suffering from complex and multiple chronic ailments, by providing daily monitoring, timely intervention as the patient's condition warrants, allocation of priority and order of clinical needs reinforcing the treatment and discharge plan. Visits and interventions to the patients can be planned when they are the most needed and tailor self-management, training and health education for both patients and caregivers. In the long run, these management tools can save clinicians' time through improved coordination and collaboration. For hospitals, they can reinforce the discharge plan, allow the hospital to recognize key indicators for readmission, contribute to the stabilization of patients after hospitalization, and generally support care transitions.

While Information Technology is pervasive and ubiquitous in various fields and industries, there have also been a lot of advances in technology directly related to healthcare. Today, there are a number of devices that allow monitoring of the patient’s functions and emergencies and also integrate with IT devices such as mobiles. A few of such modern technologies that are making way in the Healthcare domain are as follows:-

* ¬ ECG embedded in the smartphone case that helps interpret test results via an App and facilitates secured sharing of data with clinicians (NICE Evidence Review)

* ¬ Tremor spoon for Parkinson’s incorporating sensors and data analytics on how Tremor characteristics and severity change over time

* ¬ Smart Inhalers that sense the location and surrounding air providing insights into Asthma attacks

All of the above technologies help in monitoring various parameters as relevant to the patient so that timely intervention can be made for better outcomes.

In addition to the above, there are also various sensor-based devices in the market that detect situations in an ongoing treatment and emergencies, for e.g., detection of a fall along with the precise location. It was estimated in 2014 that remote patient monitoring technologies accounted for over $ 30 billion.

Home care which makes use of appropriate technology is helpful in preventing or delaying the shift of patients to acute care settings. Although, technologies used in home care are not a solution for all underrlying factors that prompt such shifts—for example, trauma caused from a road accident.

The medical conditions that are chronic in nature, nonintensive and can be addressed using standardised protocols, lend themselves best for successful treatment via technology-enabled home care.

Diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and fracture prevention are high-prevalence medical conditions that fall in the category of chronic ailments. They present important disease targets for current and future technological advances in home care.

Conclusion

Future progression of technology in home health care has the potential of significantly augmenting the role of home healthcare within the overall health care structure. These developments will have a positive impact on the complete growth of welfare for mankind, serving the unified cause of accessible healthcare to all. A future where quality healthcare can be availed by even the lowest strata of the society isn’t that distant, after all

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