Technology is advancing faster than ever, and it’s moving home health care by leaps and bounds. New hi tech developments are enabling better patient care from the comfort of their homes, and saving the health care industry an estimated $1.2 billion annually by reducing hospitalization rates.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide health care from a geographical, social, or cultural distance. Its purpose is to improve access that isn’t consistently available in distant rural communities. It can also be used to save lives in emergency situations. Telemedicine allows for increased access to health services, improved disease management, improved self-care management, and earlier and proactive interventions for positive outcomes. This technology can support post-discharge, home health, chronic care management, skilled nursing facilities, and much more.
The use of interactive and non-interactive robots in a variety of health care settings is a popular trend. 2 examples of personal robotic aids are the Smart Wheelchair, which is equipped with collision sensors and programmable to follow a path and confirm demands, and the Smart Walker, which comprises a camera, central computer, sensors monitoring the user’s vital signs, and a shared controller mediating between the computer and the user.
Interactive robots are divided into 2 types: animal/creature-like and human-like. The first are pet-like robots programmed to display basic animal emotions. The human-like robots can be trained for a variety of skills, such as motivating and encouraging cardiac patients to exercise or encouraging social interaction skills in autistic children.
Virtual coaching is a growing trend between healthcare professionals and their patients to help patients become more proactive in their health. This coaching helps patients take a closer look at their motivations and obstacles in reaching their personal health goals, and provides a personal guide to help them meet their expectations. The overreaching virtual world makes this a viable option for patients practically anywhere. Virtual coaches help their patients establish reasonable health goals, break the goals into manageable steps, and focus on all aspects of the patients’ life – mind, body, and spirit. There are many possible uses, but some of the most popular are healthy eating, smoking cessation, and stress or weight management.
Sometimes patients need quality, patient-centered care in the comfort of their home. Those who need respiratory care qualify for this thanks to home respiratory care provided by registered or certified respiratory therapists. Service representatives deliver any necessary equipment such as nebulizers, Apnea monitoring, oxygen therapy, ventilators, etc. to the home. Families receive assistance on maintenance and storage for the medical equipment and supplies. These comprehensive home care services provide medical care while offering independence for patients.
Technological advances have facilitated the general expansion of home health care. Intravenous infusion technology, radiography, ultrasound, feeding pumps, ventilators, pulse oximeters, hand-held blood analysis devices, and other cutting-edge technology once found only in hospitals are now easily accessible for the home. Quality care can now be provided in the comfort of home, saving money both for the hospitals and insurance companies, and also the patients.
As the population continues to age, relying on the hospital system alone will no longer be a viable option. According to the Rand Group, “advances in home health care products and services are attractive, promising, and perhaps even necessary solutions to mitigate the current pressure on the health care system while improving the patients’ well-being beyond the physiological parameters of disease control.”
Pablo Buki is the President of Igea Software, leading the way in home healthcare software since 2003. Igea’s groundbreaking technology has transformed clinical visits and patient care.