4 Chronic Conditions—and Their Coordination Challenges

4 Chronic Conditions—and Their Coordination Challenges

Coordinating a patient’s care is never simple. But when more than one chronic disease is involved, the task becomes especially complex.

If you’re a care coordinator, connecting clients to services to help manage their comorbid conditions is a big part of your job. Providing this support is about more than understanding chronic diseases individually. It means cultivating extensive knowledge on the impacts they can have in combination.

In these complex cases, the physical, social, and psychological needs of a patient are often significant. Maintaining a patient-centered perspective while tackling logistical care-related challenges is no easy feat. You may not be a physician. But you have a deep understanding of the toll that chronic diseases can take—especially when they occur together.

In this post, we’ll look at a few major complex conditions—and the challenges they can present to care coordinators.

 

 

1) Cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke—these conditions are on the rise. And more and more often, they’re being managed at home. For care coordinators helping at-home clients, cardiovascular diseases pose many challenges.

First off, there’s the number of health care professionals who are often involved. It’s not just about cardiologists and the primary care physicians. A whole range of practitioners—from heart failure specialists to dieticians—are often integral to high-quality care plans.

Within these teams, communication breakdowns can occur. Patient-centered care can quickly become an afterthought. As a care coordinator, you work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen.

You may also worry about the day-to-day care that your client receives. Interactions can occur with blood pressure or cholesterol medications (especially when your client is medicated for several chronic diseases). Complications may also arise when caregivers take on minor procedures—such as dressing changes around a LVAD line.

You may not be directly responsible for these tasks. But it’s your job to ensure that there’s someone there to perform them—and perform them correctly. Doing all that you can to promote communication across circles of care is key.

 

 

2) Cancer 

Care coordinators can play a crucial role in cancer care. As with many chronic diseases, cancer often necessitates care from team members of various specialties. Without proper coordination, the combined work of an oncologist, surgeon, and primary care physician will far be less effective.

There are also many experiences unique to cancer patients that can be emotionally and psychologically difficult. Treatments such as chemotherapy can cause major bodily changes, including weight and hair loss. Often, patients require tailored counseling and social support to deal with these changes. Creating or strengthening these support networks can be challenging for care coordinators.

Lastly, when it comes to cancer, family members don’t always know what to expect. They may not be aware of how best to support their loved one during a time of monumental change. As a care coordinator, you can help through one-on-one discussions.

When a client has several chronic diseases, the complexity of cancer treatment and its effects can increase. Care coordinators should aim to improve communication not only between professional team members, but among patients, caregivers, and family members.

 

 

3) Chronic respiratory diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases such COPD, asthma, and sleep apnea can also create major coordination challenges. This is more true now than ever, as there’s a growing trend toward providing pulmonary rehab and related monitoring at home.

COPD can prove especially difficult to manage. Unfortunately, the disease is responsible for a high volume of hospital readmissions. Of course, coordinating care for COPD patients often means arranging for treatment from specialists (such as pulmonologists and respiratory therapists). The movement of much of this care into patient homes represents a relatively new delivery method—and (potentially) new coordination challenges.

Comorbid chronic conditions can further complicate care. As just one example, COPD and heart failure can exacerbate one another and make breathing very difficult.

Fortunately, there are opportunities for care coordinators to improve life for clients. New technologies—such as patient-friendly video-calling apps—are opening up new communication possibilities for respiratory therapists and patients. And innovative programs like the INSPIRED COPD Outreach Program are reducing readmission rates. By strategically embracing these new ways of delivering care, you can improve coordination for patients with chronic respiratory diseases.

 

 

4) Diabetes 

Coordinating care for clients with diabetes can be difficult due to poor compliance with medication, dietary, and lifestyle instructions.

As rates of the disease rise, patients are increasingly performing self-care activities to manage their diabetes at home. In many ways, this is a great development. Many of these patients have the opportunity to significantly improve their health.

Care coordinators can help by aiding clients with diabetes in setting reachable goals. That said, there’s a not-so-positive flipside: failing to meet these goals can lead to serious consequences.

According to a 2016 statistic, an amputation occurs every four hours due to a diabetic foot ulcer. In so many of these cases, a few steps could prevent this outcome. As an example, regular foot care appointments combined with at-home self exams can prevent ulcers from developing or worsening.

Unfortunately, clients with multiple chronic conditions must often remember increasingly complicated self-care regiments. The good news? As a care coordinator, you can connect clients to the resources they need—and drive home the importance of adhering to instructions.

Technology that makes it easy for clients to take part in their own care can provide support. By making it easy to share health information and check-in with you (and other care providers), the right mobile app simplifies self care. Diabetics and clients in need of complex care will reap the benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature image courtesy of hobvias sudoneighm

5 Challenges for Complex Care Coordinators in Rural Areas

5 Challenges for Complex Care Coordinators in Rural Areas

Care coordination is a difficult job under any circumstances. That said, working in rural areas can be especially challenging.

Complex patients living outside of city centers face the same health issues as their urban counterparts. Unfortunately, their difficulties are often compounded by their distance from healthcare resources.

If you’re a rural care coordinator, narrowing this distance is one of the keys to providing your complex clients with the best possible care. Luckily, digital technology offers you the tools to provide high-quality, long distance coordination. But first, you need to identify the barriers standing in your way.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the biggest issues care coordinators face in rural regions. We’ll delve into the additional challenges complex clients present—and tell you how the right technology can help.

 

 

 

1) Reduced nursing availability

In many cases, patients with several chronic conditions must worry about numerous prescriptions, appointments, and sets of self-care instructions. As a care coordinator, you can help by connecting your clients to the right resources. But you’re just one piece of the puzzle.

Nurses can help by administering medications and walking patients through procedures such as basic wound care. While physician and specialist expertise is required in some cases, nurses are often the right professionals to evaluate symptoms and explain future courses of action.

Unfortunately, the demand for rural nurses is very real. Due to shortages, it’s not always easy to ensure that complex care patients receive the ongoing care they need.

What can be done to solve this problem? In Ontario, the implementation of more nursing stations run by registered nurses (RN) and nurse practitioners (NP) is one solution. The Registered Nursing Association of Ontario (RNAO) has laid out a full set of recommendations.

One thing is certain. Care coordinators should find ways to help ensure that rural patients receive the nursing support they need—today.

 

 

 

2) Communication difficulties with patients

When clients live rurally, it can be difficult to connect with them. Knowing you’re just a short drive away can put a client at ease. In contrast, as the kilometers between you add up, the quality of your relationship can deteriorate.

Unfortunately, picking up the phone to check in or answer a question isn’t always sufficient.

It’s impossible to pick up on visual cues that convey how your client is really doing over the phone, and showing the empathy you feel can also be a challenge. To provide high-quality support, it’s important for you as a care coordinator to be present.

That said, you can’t always be there in person. But video-calling technology can help. With an intuitive touchscreen app, all clients—including those with low levels of technical skill—can have face-to-face meetings with you, wherever you are.

The same technology can help with nursing availability. With the right app, nurses can check in with patients and coach them through self-care activities via video. They can also send and follow up on medication reminders.

 

 

 

3) Unreliable cellular coverage

In many rural areas, cell phone coverage is far from perfect. And the consequences can be serious.

Consider the following story. In 2016, a car collided with a half-ton truck between the Saskatchewan communities of Black Lake and Stony Rapids. The accident occurred just weeks after cellular coverage became available in the area. As a result, a passerby was able to call for help. But imagine what could have happened if coverage hadn’t been available.

Depending on your service provider, it’s entirely possible that your coverage will be spotty in some rural regions. If this happens, you could be putting yourself in a hazardous situation.

Of course, it’s not just about keeping yourself safe. What if one of your clients requires sudden medical assistance, and you can’t make the call? And consider the inconvenience of being unable to communicate crucial health information to the nurses, physicians, or specialists who will act on it later.

As a care coordinator, there’s not much you can do about existing cellular networks—apart from advocate for better coverage. But in cases where coverage is inconsistent, you can use an app like Aetonix’s aTouchAway to contact and securely share information with other care professionals.

 

 

 

4) Long distances from hospitals 

It’s an unfortunate reality. Complex patients are far more likely to be hospitalized than those in the general population. If you’re a care coordinator, the records you keep will take on new importance when a complex client is transferred from one care environment to another.

Let’s say it’s necessary for your client to be transported from her rural community to a hospital in the city. The professionals who care for her will be of greater assistance if they have access to her up-to-date medical history and care plan.

Communication is key. For this reason, there’s great value in a digital app that simplifies information-sharing among circles of care. Whatever solution you choose, be sure it enables quick communication across these circles during care transitions.

 

 

 

5) Poor driving conditions

In recent years, questions have been raised regarding rural road design in Canada. Add high speeds and unpredictable weather conditions, and driving can quickly become hazardous. If rural travel is a part of your job description, you may be at an increased risk for a collision.

Of course, accidents aren’t the only concern when it comes to driving. In urban environments, efficient city services help commuters avoid major holdups. But when your clients live rurally, a snowstorm or road closure can cut your time with them short.

Video conferencing can ensure your clients get the time they deserve with you while making your job safer. When driving conditions are less than ideal, you don’t have to venture out onto rural roads in order to connect. You can provide any client with the benefits of a face-to-face visit using technology that’s intuitive to you both. With the aTouchAway app, it’s simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature image courtesy of grace_kat

How to Help an Elderly Loved One—Without Being Intrusive

How to Help an Elderly Loved One—Without Being Intrusive

If you’re worried about an elderly loved one, your first instinct is probably to step in and help. But what happens when the person you care about doesn’t want your help? How do you contribute to the safety, health, and happiness of a family member who sees your efforts as invasive?  It’s tough to balance, but often, finding out why your aging loved one might be resisting your help can go a long way.

Perhaps your mom doesn’t get around as easily as she used to, and you wish she’d accept assistance from a cleaning service. Maybe your dad is having more and more trouble caring for himself, and you’d like him to consider assisted living. Whether the change you believe your loved one needs is big or small, you may have to deal with some major resistance.

It goes without saying that you want what’s best for your aging family member. But you also know the importance of being respectful. In this post, we’ll tell you how to provide truly considerate support.

 

Why might they be resisting assistance?
Listen & learn

Offering an elderly loved one assistance isn’t easy. First you must assess the situation. Then you have to do your research. When you come up with a workable plan, it may feel like the perfect solution. Of course, the person at the center of your plan might feel differently.

It can be frustrating when someone you care about rejects your help. And it’s often tempting to see the person who’s turning you down as selfish. In these situations, it’s important to practice empathy. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your elderly loved one. Start by listening.

By actively listening to your family member, you send the message that her opinion matters. She may open up and help you better understand what’s at the root of her refusal. Is she worried about losing her independence? Perhaps she’s anxious about changing her routine.

Only by understanding someone’s fears or concerns can you address them. Try asking questions—and listening without jumping to conclusions.

 

 

Enlist help

According to one study, 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn. This statistic isn’t hard to believe. Consider the time, care, and (in some cases) financial assistance that many daughters and sons are willing to provide. When aging parents reject these forms of help, it can seem like they’re simply being obstinate.

If you’re feeling this way, it may be because you’re overwhelmed. When you’re focusing on finding a solution to a problem, seeing another person’s point of view isn’t always easy. An outside perspective might be just what you need.

Help is available. Geriatric care consultants, counsellors, financial planners—the right professionals will have the experience and knowledge to provide you with greater clarity. To find someone with the right expertise, it pays to do your research. But it might also make sense to reach out to existing members of your loved one’s circle of care.

Consider this. The nurse, personal support worker, or physician who provides care for your elderly father may have helpful insight into his frame of mind—and just how much additional support he actually needs.

 

 

Use the technology at your disposal

Accessing human resources—in the form of circle of care members and other relevant professionals—is often key to providing truly helpful support. If you have permission from your elderly loved one, staying in the loop may be simple.

By providing a place where you, your family member, and everyone involved in his care can easily connect, technology can help you get important answers.

The right mobile app could connect you to your mother’s care coordinator, allowing you to ask what to expect from her upcoming treatments. Armed with the right information, you would be less likely to offer inappropriate help or suggest a disruptive and unnecessary change.

Of course, your own perceptions also matter. In some ways, you may be the best person to judge whether your relative is having difficulty coping.

Communication technology enables you to check in on your loved one face-to-face. Through video calls, you can actually see how your parent is doing, even when you can’t be there in person. These calls can also provide a lot of joy for older people who live alone. Look for an intuitive app that will work for users of all skill levels and abilities.

 

  

Be trustworthy & transparent

For many older adults, moving or making a major lifestyle change can feel like a loss of independence. It’s not hard to understand why many seniors become frustrated when their well-meaning children step in.

The fact is, dealing with an elderly loved one isn’t like dealing with a child. It’s important to ensure that you pay your family member the upmost respect. If she or he has the capacity to make personal decisions, these choices must ultimately be respected.

Be honest and direct with the person you’re trying to help. Never lie or hide information, even temporarily. Telling your elderly loved one how you feel about her current situation (whether it’s worried, anxious, or fearful) may motivate her to consider your suggestions. That said, manipulative behaviour won’t move things in a positive direction—and it just might harm your relationship with someone you care about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature image courtesy of Kindness Art

4 Tips: Connecting With an Elderly Parent Using aTouchAway

4 Tips: Connecting With an Elderly Parent Using aTouchAway

Are you concerned about your elderly parent’s wellbeing? Aging can create a multitude of personal challenges. It’s natural to worry about how your loved one is navigating them—especially when you can’t be there to help out in person.

Luckily, digital technology can improve your parent’s quality of life—and put your mind at ease.

If your mom is feeling lonely, a communication app can empower her to reach out to those who care. When you’re worried about your dad’s health, the right information-sharing tool can provide real-time medical updates.

If you’re using aTouchAway, you already know that the app provides the best of both worlds. Videoconferencing makes it easier than ever to establish meaningful communication. And care-plan sharing allows you to better understand your elderly parent’s condition—and provide the right support.

These features are crucial. You’re an important part of your loved one’s support network. Through face-to-face communication and a better awareness of relevant health issues, you can make life better for your mom or dad—even from a distance.

But are you using aTouchAway to its full potential? In this post, we’ll explore some tips for getting the most from the Aetonix app.

 

 

 

1) Show your elderly parent how easy it is

For many older adults, social isolation is a day-to-day reality. Statistics indicate that 1.4 million Canadian seniors report feeling lonely. If you have an elderly parent, you might wonder whether she or he is included in this number.

Fortunately, you can use digital technology to ensure that your mom or dad feels cared for and supported. With the aTouchAway app, making a video call is incredibly simple. The face-to-face conversations you initiate will provide a greater sense of connection than phone calls ever did.

But what if your loved one isn’t good with technology? A lack of technical skills can be a barrier to digital communication. But it doesn’t have to be.

Using aTouchAway isn’t just straightforward for you. Users with cognitive and mobility issues—as well as those who just aren’t tech-literate— can send and receive calls without difficulty. For your elderly parent, calling a loved one or care team member is as simple as tapping an image on a tablet screen. What could be easier than touching your picture in order to call you?

Of course, those who have been frustrated by technology in the past are bound to be skeptical. By walking your parent through his or her first call, you can demonstrate just how intuitive aTouchAway is. If possible, we suggest calling a loved one. The instantaneous connection with a beloved grandson or niece will turn your mom or dad into a fan.

 

 

 

2) Identify all circles of care members

For those with health problems, a strong circle of care can make a huge positive difference. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an individual’s circle of care is the group of people who have access to her health information. This group usually consists of family members, medical practitioners, and caregiving professionals.

The aTouchAway app enables circles of care to share useful information and work together. Users can find all of the members of a patient’s circle in one digital place—and reach out them easily. If you play a role in maintaining this network on the app, you’ll also appreciate the convenience of being able to add and delete members when necessary.

When a daughter is in touch with her mother’s care coordinator via videoconferencing, she’s better equipped to act with sensitivity and provide the right kind of support. In situations like this, communication across circles of care can strengthen the connection between adult child and elderly parent.

Of course, a patient also plays an important role in his own circle. For example, if you’re father has regular video check-in sessions with his nurses, he’s far more likely to engage in proper self-care activities. And when he can connect easily with all of his loved ones, he’s sure to live a far richer life than he otherwise would.

To get the most out of aTouchAway, identify those who your elderly parent trusts and relies on. Medical care team members are obvious choices. And whenever possible, building a network of caring relatives is sure to boost your mom or dad’s spirits.

 

 

 

3) Take advantage of mobile

For those who aren’t great with technology, touchscreen tablets make interacting with aTouchAway simple. If this sounds like your elderly parent, a tablet may offer the most intuitive way of using the app.

That said, you may have different needs. If you live a busy lifestyle—but still want to be there for your parent when he needs you—downloading the app onto your cellphone might be most convenient. You can receive and send video calls from your phone, no matter where you are.

If you’re loved one uses the discreet, lightweight Aetonix safety bracelet, you can also receive notifications if she experiences a fall or some other urgent situation. While emergency services should also be set up to receive and respond to these events, you’re sure to feel more at ease knowing you’ll be aware if your elderly parent is in trouble.

Whether you access aTouchAway on a cellphone or tablet, you’ll probably want to explore the many features it provides on the go.

 

 

 

4) Check health and care-plan information regularly

Armed with up-to-date health information, family members, medical practitioners, and caregiving professionals are in a better position to provide patients with the care they need.

For many adult children, the most obvious use for a videoconferencing app is connecting with an elderly parent. But digital technology also has the power to store sensitive data while ensuring that all authorized parties can access it—In real-time, from wherever they are.

If you’re using aTouchAway, you’re probably aware that practitioners can use the app to securely send, share, and access your loved one’s health information. But how often do you look at this information? Do you know the latest developments impacting your mom or dad’s health? Have you seen all of the recent changes to your parent’s care plan?

This may seem like information that only doctors and nurses need. But actually, staying in the loop can help you maintain a strong connection with your loved one. With real-time medical and care-plan information, you can tailor levels of support to ongoing events. You can provide encouragement for your elderly parent’s self care activities, provide transportation to future appointments, and keep an eye out for worsening symptoms. If you’re a substitute decision-maker, you can ensue that any decisions you make are timely and informed.

We suggest familiarizing yourself with aTouchAway’s information-sharing functions. From notes sections to relevant images to complete care plans, staying abreast of recorded changes can help you “be there” for your mom or dad in a way you otherwise couldn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways Telehealth Helps Reduce Hospital Readmissions

3 Ways Telehealth Helps Reduce Hospital Readmissions

It’s an alarming statistic. A study from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) found that 1 in 12 patients is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of being discharged.

In hospitals, physicians and nurses can monitor patients continuously. Unfortunately, care-related challenges are often compounded in less-controlled environments. At home, patients play a much larger role in managing their own health conditions. Errors and non-compliance are all too common—and the consequences can be serious.

When it comes to reducing readmission rates, setting patients up for success is critical. Post-discharge, telehealth can help.

While many healthcare providers see telehealth as outdated, it’s anything but. Advances in digital technology have enabled providers to offer more effective videoconferencing and information-sharing capabilities.

The potential post-discharge benefits are significant. In this post, we’ll look at three major ways that telehealth can help reduce hospital readmissions.

 

 

 

1) Improved follow-up

An effective follow-up plan often includes patient participation. In many cases, self care activities—such as adhering to medication regiments and dietary restrictions—is crucial to healing. Symptom monitoring may also be key to preventing complications.

Physicians do their best to stress the importance of compliance to patients. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for those without medical training to absorb this information.

As just one example, many patients fail to report worsening symptoms immediately. Getting in touch with healthcare providers can be a hassle, leading many people to put it off.

Luckily, advances in telehealth make it easier than ever before for patients to follow-up. Videoconferencing apps can be especially useful.

A patient who’s suffered from a heart attack may not want to schedule an appointment after a mild twinge in her chest. But what if she could get in touch with a nurse simply by tapping her tablet screen?

By providing quick and simple access to healthcare professionals, digital telehealth solutions have the potential to help patients avoid complications—and resulting trips to the hospital.

Likewise, care coordinators and nurses can check in with patients between home care visits. These check-in sessions can highlight important health issues and changes that might not come up otherwise.

 

 

 

2) On-demand clarification

How well are patients following instructions that could help keep them out of the hospital? It’s an important question. Unfortunately, busy healthcare providers don’t always have time to give it the attention it deserves.

All too often, patients return home to find that they’ve forgotten their self-care instructions. During a time that’s often marked by stress and confusion, it can be difficult to absorb verbal information from a healthcare provider. Many patients also struggle with written discharge instructions.

Comprehension is critical, because certain tasks can be more complex outside of a hospital environment. For example, a patient unaccustomed to using an oxygen mask by herself may have difficulty doing so. Telehealth apps can empower her by making it easy to reach out to a care provider for real-time video assistance.

Of course, comprehension is only part of the problem. Many patients are able to understand instructions, but forget to follow them. Medication is a classic example. In some cases, accidentally skipping doses can lead to complications—and re-hospitalization.

Digital telehealth solutions can solve this problem. Consider the benefits of a videoconferencing app with built-in medication reminders. When a patient fails to adhere to a reminder, a healthcare professional can follow-up with a video call to ensure compliance.

 

 

 

3) Supplementary appointments

In most cases, following up is about more than checking in. It’s true that nurses, personal support workers (PSWs), and care coordinators can assist with specific tasks—and monitor patient wellbeing. But post-discharge appointments with family doctors and specialists are usually also necessary.

That said, in-demand practitioners can’t always see individual patients as often as they’d like. And on the patient’s side, remembering and securing transportation to in-person appointments can be difficult.

Unfortunately, rescheduling isn’t always simple. Missed appointments—and long wait periods—can allow health complications to go unnoticed. The result can be poor health outcomes and eventual hospital readmission.

Telehealth enables practitioners to see more people in less time. The right digital videoconferencing solution can connect physicians with recently-discharged patients in an instant. As a result, it may be possible to provide more supplementary appointments for those who need it most.

Because videoconferencing is convenient, virtual appointments are easy to attend. With telehealth, there’s great potential to cut down on missed visits, which means more patients will receive the specialized follow-up care they require.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Blue Coat Photos

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How Digital Health is Making a Difference in 3 Care Settings

How Digital Health is Making a Difference in 3 Care Settings

It’s Digital Health Week, and we at Aetonix are in the mood to celebrate.

Each year, technological advances make healthcare delivery more convenient and efficient. Innovation makes medical information more accessible for health professionals, as well as patients and their families.

But what does this progress look like? And where is it making the biggest difference?

Digital health isn’t just for patients and physicians who are on the cutting edge of technology. Across health care environments and circles of care, digital technology is already being implemented—and getting results. And this is just the beginning.

In this post, we’ll look at how digital health is improving patient outcomes and service provider efficiency in acute care, long-term care, and home and community settings.

 

 

 

Home Care 

Home care is becoming more critical. The healthcare system is seeing an influx of patients with chronic conditions, and many of them can best manage their health at home.

Thanks in part to the growth of digital health, there’s more support for home care patients than ever before. Health apps are playing a significant role in providing this support. From automated medication reminders to wearables that provide blood glucose monitoring, the ways that digital tech can improve self-care are truly incredible.

Then there’s telemedicine, which has been around for decades—and it’s only becoming more popular. The global market is expected to reach $36.2 million by 2020.

How has telemedicine improved in recent years? Mobile devices have made videoconferencing between patients and medical professionals more convenient than ever before. Reliable internet access and touch-screen technology enables patient of all ages and abilities to connect with providers easily. On the provider side, remote check-in visits can be critical to the health, safety, and wellbeing of at-home patients.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the value of information-sharing. Electronic medical records (EMRs) allow care team members to view a patient’s complete, updated medical information. Likewise, care plans that are accessible to care teams digitally ensure truly responsive and coordinated care.

As patients take on increasingly active roles in managing their conditions, electronic records are enabling them to view their own information—quickly, and without a hassle.

In the past, security issues posed a major challenge to electronic information sharing. But as digital technology evolves, it’s also becoming more secure. Today, the right app or digital tool will be compliant with privacy legislation—such as PHIPA and HIPPA.

 

 

 

Long Term Care

When we think of digital health, we don’t often think of long term care. In settings where residents require round-the-clock care, the direct human connection is key. That said, digital technology can improve the operational efficiency of long term care facilities. And ultimately, it’s residents who benefit most.

When it comes to monitoring residents, ethical and logistical issues often arise. But digital technology can help staff ensure the safety of all residents—without compromising privacy.

Discreet bracelets that alert staff to wandering episodes or falls are a great example. Connected to the right digital systems, these wearables can provide silent mobile notifications to on-duty nurses. At a time when facilities are moving away from using disruptive bed, floor, and chair alarms, this technology holds enormous promise.

Digital technology can also be a great source of comfort for residents. Loneliness and social isolation can greatly reduce quality of life. A caring and compassionate staff isn’t always enough to help residents overcome these feelings.

Videoconferencing technology offers residents a way to reach out to loved ones. Some apps have become incredibly intuitive. Touch-screen technology makes connecting with a wife, son, or niece as easy as tapping a picture on a tablet screen.

In long term care, another frequent family challenge often arises. In many cases, close relatives act as substitute decision-makers for residents. Any changes to a care plan must be approved by the right decision-maker.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for staff to reach the right person to obtain approval. All too often, nurses can’t get in touch with substitute decision-makers by phone, fax, or email. As a result, a resident may not receive medication that could reduce her pain or increase her quality of life.

Digital communication and information-sharing apps streamline the communication process and make document-sharing simple. It’s never been easier for staff to obtain instant approval.

 

 

 

Acute Care

Tools that improve communication and information-sharing between frontline workers can make a real difference in acute care.

A recent Deloitte report notes the value of pairing 24/7 emergency responsiveness with technology that allows for the instantaneous transfer of vital patient information. An easy-to-use app for responders could improve coordination between emergency services and receiving hospitals. By providing a method of transferring patient information that’s both quick and secure, this type of digital tool could save precious time.

In the emergency department, electronic triaging software promises to make care more efficient. One such application has been in use in The Scarborough Hospital (TSH). The software assesses symptoms inputted by a triage nurse. In waiting rooms, there are kiosks that allow for ongoing patient-driven reassessment. The result? Triage time has been cut in half.

Lastly, digital health technology can improve acute care by ensuring medical devices are always accessible when needed. Sensors can track the location of equipment (such as IVs, pumps, and mobile nursing stations) across hospitals. Given that medical device hoarding is a serious problem in many facilities, tracking solutions will prove valuable in the years ahead.

In general, the Internet of Things (IOT) has the potential to connect hospital devices. By enabling pieces of equipment to “talk to” one another (where one device triggers action in another), IOT has amazing potential to streamline acute care workflows in the future.

Of course, technological advancements toward more efficient and patient-centred care are ongoing. And when it comes to digital health, there’s a lot to get excited about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feature image courtesy of Andrew_Writer