HealthAchieve 2017 will be kicking off in Toronto on November 6th. If you’re a health care leader, you may be heading to the conference. An impressive roster of keynote speakers and the chance to network with other decision-makers in your sector are reason enough to attend.
That said, we think you should check out the trade show, too. Because being open to new technologies could lead to big benefits.
Throughout October, health care innovators will be gearing up to show off their solutions. They’ll be looking to find new opportunities and make important connections. Your organization—and all Ontarians who rely on the health care system—can benefit from their enthusiasm.
According to its website, HealthAchieve is “an agent of change that drives the evolution of the health care system by focusing on the future.” It goes without saying that sharing ideas will be a big part of the conference. But exhibitors are also bound to have a whole lot of knowledge to share. After all, these are businesses that have chosen the sector as their focus.
Get ready to discover innovative solutions to some of health care’s biggest problems. You never know what you’re going to discover at a trade show.
1) The technology is more innovative than you think
It’s easy to dismiss new health care technologies. How many times has a new health care buzzword emerged, only to disappear without fulfilling its promise?
For clinicians, manager, and executives, terms related to health care innovation often go in one ear and out the other. Even concepts that seem to have passed their expiration date (like “telehealth”) just keep coming back.
But consider this: telehealth has evolved—no longer does remote communication between doctors and patients depend on cumbersome equipment. Similarly, when it comes to electronic medical records (another solution that received a ton of media hype), the future of interoperability looks bright.
Sometimes, a rebooted concept or piece of technology deserves a closer look. And when it comes to new health care solutions, you’d be surprised by how much exists that you’ve never seen before.
There will be nearly 300 exhibitors and special attractions at HealthAchieve this year. What are the chances that you won’t find anything that has the potential to improve health outcomes or patient quality of life?
Skepticism is understandable. But if improving care-related outcomes is part of your job, you know the true value that innovation can have. Chosen and implemented wisely, the right technology can transform health care delivery.
2) Much of this innovation could have an immediate impact
In the health care sector, developing a relationship with a vendor and engaging in collaboration can be a lengthy process. It’s no surprise that when decision-makers see potential in a technology, their minds often jump to logistics.
Is the solution you’re looking at really cost feasible? Where are the inevitable obstacles you’re bound to run into? What’s the true time to deployment?
Of course, these are questions you should consider carefully before committing to something new. But immediately talking yourself out of a promising collaboration can be a mistake.
Digital technologies are often low-cost and incredibly simple to deploy. For example, consider mobile health care apps, such as those currently available to help with diabetes management. This technology is often up and running after the few minutes it takes for a user to download it.
At HealthAchieve, you’re sure to see plenty of innovative technologies that meet this criteria. As just one example, we at Aetonix will be there to show you just how simple it can be to connect entire circles of care.
Don’t miss the opportunity to discover intuitive, cost-effective technologies that just might solve some of the biggest challenges to your organization—and the patients it helps.
3) You’ll get to support local vendors
The province’s health care sector is changing. In the government, there’s been ongoing structural transformation. There’s also been increased home care investment, which reflects an overall move toward more care in the community.
These are improvements, but they’re bound to bring up new challenges. And technology will play a crucial role in solving them.
The good news is, Ontario is a hotbed of health care innovation. According to the Ontario Centres of Excellence website, over 18,000 researchers in the province’s 24 publicly-funded hospitals were active last year.
Events like HealthAchieve often reflect the fruits of this labour. If you’re a decision-maker looking for a particular type of health care solution, it makes sense to peruse home-grown technologies.
In some cases, collaboration with local vendors is well-funded by the government. Finding the right program and partners can help you improve your organization’s overall efficiency and health outcomes—in a way that’s cost-effective.
When health care leaders work with the province’s best and brightest technological innovators, good things happen. Namely, our system becomes stronger—for all Ontarians.
4) You’ll get to see some some really cool things
There are many reasons to want to be a delegate at HealthAchieve, and most of them are practical. But let’s not forget how much fun it can be to check out new technology in your field. Because some of the things you’ll see at the trade show are bound to be pretty cool.
Last year, OpenLab, a design and innovation shop that operates out of the University Health Network, exhibited some of its virtual reality (VR) films. Aimed at older adults, the films were designed to alleviate dementia, depression, and anxiety.
This year, the Intelligent Health Pavillion will offer first-hand experience of exciting new wearable technologies. Once the stuff of science fiction, wearables are changing the face of health care delivery.
Ultimately, HealthAchieve is about collaborating to improve health outcomes and patient wellbeing. That said, why not look forward to seeing something really interesting—or even mind-blowing—in the process?
Feature image courtesy of Kate Ter Harr
If you’re involved in coordinating the care of complex patients, you know the value of communication. It’s something we talk about a lot on this blog, and for good reason.
Today, technology makes communication easier than ever before. The click of a key or the tap of a screen can connect two people across the globe.
Videoconferencing makes it possible for groups to work towards the same goals, with minimal confusion. And digital data storage allows individuals to access information—easily, and when they need it.
The potential for these tools to improve health care is enormous. This is particularly true in home and community care. When accurate patient information is available on demand, members of care teams can take quick, decisive action.
Unfortunately, many providers don’t see this value. There’s been plenty of hype surrounding health care technology, and it’s all too easy to dismiss it. In this post, we’ll look at some of the reasons for practitioner hesitation—and how care coordinators can overcome it.
Why Technology is Absolutely Essential
Care coordination can be frustrating. And one of the biggest frustrations is seeing delays occur when patient information is transferred too slowly.
In some ways, things are getting better. Health care leaders have begun to understand the importance of improving provider access to patient information. The rise of electronic medical records (EMRs) is a great example. These records centralize information, providing practitioners with complete, up-to-date medical histories when and where they need them.
Here in Ontario, coordinated care plans take things a step further for those with complex conditions. With the right digital technology, these documents can be accessed and updated electronically, along with a patient’s other medical records. Care team members can find whatever information they need—all in the same place.
Advances in digital technology have been key. No longer is sharing data a matter of scouring computer databases for raw information that’s difficult to interpret.
Consider what’s happened in retail. A Deloitte survey found that, during the 2015 holiday season, 45% of shoppers intended to buy gifts online. Obviously, health care practitioners are a different kind of user. But the fact remains: once a technology becomes convenient to use, it doesn’t take long for people to adopt it.
Now, user-friendly health care apps are revolutionizing medical care. These apps make it possible for care team members to transfer information quickly using their mobile devices. They can also be used to conduct videoconferences, allowing practitioners to ask one another questions and clarify points of confusion.
In the era of patient-centred care, communication technology also has the power to engage care recipients. Because many mobile apps have become so easy to use, connecting with a nurse, personal support worker (PSW), or other care provider can be as simple as tapping a picture on a tablet screen.
As a care coordination professional, you have a major role to play. By promoting the use of communication technology, you can increase the impact you have on patient health outcomes and quality of life.
Care Team Resistance
For those who deal with coordination challenges, the need for quicker, more efficient communication within care teams is obvious. But practitioners, family caregivers, and even patients may have trouble seeing how new technology can help.
Unfortunately, many people have the perception that digital solutions only makes things more complicated. It’s understandable. We can all relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Our social media feeds provide constant streams of information—much of which is irrelevant to us. And there are times when searching for a specific piece of information online can lead to wasted hours.
Information and communication technologies designed for the health sector can lead to negative experiences, too. As just one example, the systems used to access EMRs are sometimes incompatible with one another. There are situations when a complex patient needs to see a new specialist. If this practitioner is outside of the patient’s network, she may be using a different system. As a result, she may be unable to read his EMR without doing a lot of extra work.
When technology fails to make things more efficient, many health care providers don’t see the point in going digital.
Of course, there are also those who are willing to act as technology pioneers, trying out new efficiency-enhancing technologies before judging them. As a care coordinator, you may fall into this camp.
For you, it’s about more than completing specific tasks. It’s about ensuring that many different types of tasks are performed in a timely manner, and that they contribute to a patient’s overall care. When the flow of information is poor, this just can’t happen.
Unfortunately, perceived learning curves can deter practitioners from adopting new technologies. Skeptical attitudes may also come from exposure to technology hype. Whatever the reason, reluctance to adopt isn’t uncommon.
Studies show that many nurses minimize or put off the use of information technology systems. Of course, this resistance isn’t confined to nurses. Any care team member might be hesitant to use a new app or system, thereby impeding the flow of information.
Tips for Getting Care Teams on Board
Doctor, nurse, pharmacist, family member. whatever role a practitioners or caregiver fills, she can serve as an early technology adopter. But first, she has to understand how it will make her better at helping her patient (or loved one).
As a care coordinator, you’re in a good position to advocate for improved communication. Often, this means encouraging the use of technological solutions that connect care teams and make it easy for members to share information.
In many cases, educating decision makers will be key. If the health care organization or service provider you work for doesn’t have a digital solution in place, those in charge will require the specific information in order to make an informed decision about adoption.
How will the technology you’re proposing simplify communication and care plan sharing? How much more efficiently are these processes likely to be carried out after implementation? Will the solution help with specific organization-wide goals?
Taking on an outside perspective is also important when you’re encouraging individual practitioners, as well as family members and patients. Will the proposed app, platform, or system change their daily routines? Are there concerns that it will be difficult to use?
If you’ve selected the right solution, risks will be minimal—or even nonexistent. The technology you suggest should be easy to use. Most importantly, it should offer real benefits to all involved.
Imagine telling a patient that she can contact you, her nurses, or her family members by tapping a familiar face on a tablet screen. Wouldn’t you like to tell a nurse that she can always access up-to-date information related to a patient’s medication and care regiments? And what about explaining to a specialist (a wound care expert, for example) that she can use videoconferencing to see more patients?
Helping care team members understand the benefits from their perspectives is ultimately good for patients.
A More Connected Future
Can care coordinators improve communication between practitioners, caregivers, and patients? At Aetonix, we believe the answer is yes. The result will be quicker, more efficient care delivery. And digital technology will play a crucial role in this transformation.
But none of this will happen until care teams are able to see the benefits. The education and adoption process may be slow. But the best way to get it started is by finding the right communication technology for your organization—then talking to potential early adopters.
Feature image courtesy of Rabin Pamela
We’ve heard it many times before. Canada is headed for a health care crisis. Our system isn’t sustainable. Our aging population will bankrupt us.
These ideas can make for compelling news stories, but they are perhaps a tad dramatic. Health care leaders and practitioners know that the factors impacting expenditures in the sector are complex. Distilling them into soundbites does little to accurately inform the public.
That said, there is cause for alarm. The way we allocate health care resources is increasingly at odds with the needs of patients. And the signs of this imbalance are everywhere.
Luckily, a shift in thinking has already begun. Recent government measures, such as providing more funding for home care, will help in the long run. But in order to bring about real positive change, service providers must be equipped with the right tools. And today, many of those tools are digital.
This post will explore the trends that threaten to cause a Canadian health care crisis – and how technology can help reverse them.
Pinpointing the Causes of a Potential Health Care Crisis
As of 2015, there were more Canadians over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. As members of the boomer generation continue to age, we’ll need more health care funding to cover the cost of their care. So the argument goes.
Of course, an influx of older adults is bound to strain provincial health care systems. We know that, in Ontario alone, these individuals already make up 14% of the population. And yet they use about one half of every health care dollar.
That said, any explanation based on the idea that “old age” can cause a health care crisis is overly simplistic.
If you’re a health care practitioner or policymaker, you know the statistics. Of every five Canadians over the age of 20, three have a chronic disease. Like the older adult population, these rates are rising quickly. Along with them, comorbid and complex conditions are also becoming more common – even in children.
The problem is clear. Chronic disease rates are exploding, yet Canadians continue to rely on a system designed to treat acute conditions.
The consequences of this imbalance are all too visible. High hospital readmission rates. Long wait times for many different types of services. Burnt-out family caregivers. The list goes on.
While these aren’t exactly new problems, they’re now becoming impossible to ignore. It’s clear that an overhaul of our health care systems is needed. And it’s not going to be easy.
Luckily, some of the seeds have already been sown. Increasingly, chronic and complex conditions are being recognized as root causes of health care spending. Ongoing treatment – whether it’s for older adults or patients of other demographics – is improving.
In Ontario, recent funding for home and respite care show just how much attitudes are changing. But as the critics are quick to point out, there’s still a whole lot of room for improvement.
Looking for Solutions – Outside of the Box
The growing number of older adults in Canada isn’t the sole factor leading us toward a potential health care disaster. But imagine, for a moment, that it is. Pretend that aging is occurring in exactly the same way as it has in the past, that patient needs (and the health issues that drive them) aren’t shifting.
If this were the case, the answers would be clearer. More funding to scale existing delivery models. More doctors, nurses, and acute care beds. In short, more of the same.
But patient needs are changing. And chronic and complex conditions – which require ongoing management and care – are largely responsible. These changes are impacting older adults disproportionately. But they’re having a very significant effect on other groups as well.
It’s worth noting that an increase in funding can always bring about improvement in the sector. But of course, cost efficiency is becoming more critical as demand for services grows. Wise investments are key.
Home care provides real value – both in terms of outcomes for chronic patients and cost savings. Estimates peg the cost of care in the community at about a quarter of what the same care costs in a hospital bed.
By recognizing this fact, practitioners and policymakers have turned in a new and promising direction. But the shift hasn’t gone far enough. And until it has, service providers will struggle to provide individual clients with the care they need.
What Canadians need is a whole new vision for health care.
This vision should maximize the potential of care at home in order to tackle the system’s biggest challenges. It should be truly patient-centred, which means it should be more proactive, more supportive, and (perhaps most importantly) more coordinated. In short: better management is key.
What does this look like in practice? A workable model has an engaged and empowered patient at its centre. A team of closely-connected health practitioners and family members communicate continuously with the patient, and with one another.
Every person within this circle of care can play a role in managing the patient’s chronic condition(s). If she’s capable of doing so, the patient also can also play a management role. At the same time, as communication is strengthened, workflow and accountability are clear.
In many cases, this type of model can prevent the occurrences that eat up health care resources – like hospital readmissions.
Initiatives exist to encourage close collaboration within patient circles of care. But to start seeing large-scale results, providers need to accelerate the process. Having the right tools can make all of the difference.
New Tools to Improve the System
To claim that government and service providers need to build an entirely new health care system is overstating the case. But the use of technology to implement new models of care will radically transform our existing systems. By streamlining the process of providing care in new environments, this transformation will go a long way toward reversing a potential health care crisis.
Take electronic health records (EMRs). A 2013 PWC study found that EMRs have contributed to time savings of 3.8 hours per physician per week. Within our existing system, this number is very impressive. But just imagine the time that home care practitioners can save when they use this resource effectively. For frontline workers, remote access to patient information means less running around and less miscommunication.
Of course, these systems are not without their drawbacks – incompatibility issues between facilities is one. But they do illustrate the sheer power of technology as a force for quicker and more efficient care.
Let’s return to the goal of achieving better coordination within circles of care – a common sense objective. Patients and their family members often complain about this issue, which can cause hospital readmissions and costly treatment errors, among other serious consequences. During consultations for a 2013 report, geriatric expert Dr. Samir Sinha found that many people are worried about the fact that their providers don’t “talk to each other”.
Still, until recently, care professionals haven’t always known what coordinated care looks like in day-to-day practice.
Now, there are apps that can clarify and streamline the workflows that patient health and wellbeing depend on. In some cases, these apps are looped into larger, more comprehensive care-management systems. They can serve numerous functions to help chronic patients at home, which means that their positive impacts are far reaching.
This is why Aetonix and likeminded organizations focus on creating comprehensive solutions. Consider the benefits of incorporating fall detection into a circle-of-care communication system, or medication reminders and tracking features into a videoconferencing platform for remote care.
Technology that serves functions related to safety, coordination, and the transfer of patient information can achieve a vast scope of goals aimed at strengthening our health care systems. These include enabling proactive disease management, offering more support for home care patients, and improving overall care team coordination and communication.
The Bottom Line
Patient needs are shifting, and health care leaders are recognizing the need for change. Embracing home and community care wholeheartedly will be crucial in the years ahead. And understanding the importance of circles of care and better coordination is just as important.
Technology enables health care leaders and frontline workers to turn plans into action. It does more than provide better, more responsive care and support for chronic patients at home. When paired with the right attitudes, technology can change the entire health care system, offering cost-efficient care for a growing number of patients. When it comes to whether Canada slides into health care crisis or not, strategically-used innovation just might make the difference.
Feature image courtesy of Washington State House Republicans
Do you wish you could serve more clients? Home care has never been more in demand. As a result, most organizations that provide and connect patients to at-home services are looking to scale. Telemedicine can help.
While there are a lot of factors involved in growing an organization, communication is key. In order to assess and treat more people, home care providers must streamline communications.
This means standardizing care delivery and the transfer of client information – two goals that can be achieved through the use of telecommunications technology.
Skeptical? Read on to discover how telemedicine can improve the way your organization operates.
Adopt a New Mindset
Do you play a role in the operation of a home care agency or Health Link? However you’re involved in the provision of home care services, you likely have one major objective: to better serve more clients.
Of course, those who plan and coordinate care services want each client to receive the time and attention she needs. Following best practices is the surest way to make this happen, but it isn’t always enough.
The demand for services is growing quickly. According to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, in 2011, 1.4 million Canadians received publicly-funded home care. That number represents a 55% increase since 2008.
Needless to say, what worked for service providers a decade ago isn’t sufficient today. Organizations involved in home care delivery are operating in new territory. Even those with advanced knowledge and experience in the sector need to adapt.
It’s true that Canadian governments have recently increased home care funding – especially in Ontario. And more resources is, without question, good for clients.
But organizations involved in service delivery need to be aware of how the home care landscape is changing. What do recent shifts in demand and funding mean for operations? Will a new crop of providers pop up to meet the growing need?
Answering these questions is the first step toward scaling your services.
In a recent Forbes article, contributor Philip Salter describes some of the secrets of scaling a business. Commit to growth. Build a team with a broad management skillset. Partner with complementary organizations.
Each of these factors can also play a role in growing a health care organization. But we believe there’s one overarching challenge you absolutely must tackle.
Clearing Your Biggest Hurdle
For new businesses, every challenge that arises is unique. That said, executive teams have to figure out what works. They must use this information to manage future projects more effectively. Without becoming more effective, how will leaders find the time to focus on growth?
Of course, caregiving isn’t the same as providing other types of services. Health care teams put people first. They consider the needs of individual patients and clients. This is the way it should be.
Just don’t let your commitment to delivering personalized care prevent you from seeing the big picture. In the current climate, caring for more clients means doing more with less. It means finding and eliminating inefficiencies.
In home care, there’s no bigger source of inefficiency than poor communication.
Those who directly plan and administer care – including care coordinators, nurses, and personal support workers – have to work together. Collaboration is key during the treatment of each and every patient.
Unfortunately, when care teams are spread out, they can easily become disconnected. Delays in diagnoses and treatment can occur. On the whole, poor communication means fewer visits and less care.
Another common issue is infrequent communication between providers and clients. Without engagement from those receiving care – and, when appropriate, their family members – complications can occur.
Whether your organization connects clients to service providers or provides care directly, communication issues should concern you. When the circles of care around patients aren’t well connected, service slows down. You’re forced to play catch-up, which leaves little time to consider growth.
For this reason, we believe in creating formal communication processes. By connecting circles of care and making it easy to share medical information, telemedicine can help.
Here’s how the right electronic tools can help you deliver quick and responsive care to more clients.
Telemedicine: the Key to Scalable Home Care
Poor home care coordination leads to inefficient services. In order to scale, the organizations involved in delivering these services need to focus on streamlining communication within client circles of care. One of the best ways of simplify these processes is through the use of telemedicine.
With the right digital telemedical technologies, care delivery can be standardized. caregiving and medical professionals will see more clients. And those in leadership positions will spend less time thinking about delivery details and more time focusing on growth.
What’s the quickest and most convenient way for practitioners to communicate medical updates and care information? The answer is clear. Provider organizations should encourage the use of mobile devices.
Of course, we’re not talking about random phone calls and emails. In order to improve coordination, each circle of care needs a virtual place to connect.
Communication apps with videoconferencing components allow frontline workers to find and connect with the doctors, pharmacists, and specialists who treat their clients – instantly. Having real-time access to these providers speeds up care processes.
Consultations can also be carried out remotely between frontline workers and specialists. Experts can assess clients visually and give nurses the coaching they need to provide treatment.
In addition, videoconferencing can reduce worker travel time to make the most of human resources. In addition to enabling expert consultations, this technology makes it possible for frontline providers to have remote check-in visits with clients.
By increasing efficiency, new videoconferencing technologies make it much easier for home care providers to scale operations. Other forms of telemedicine can also help by streamlining communication.
For example, electronic health records (EHRs) are vastly improving coordination between healthcare providers. Like real-time conferencing, EHRs centralize patient information to improve efficiency.
Similarly, remote patient monitoring communicates medical data (such as vital signs) to care providers automatically.
The Bottom Line
The demand for home care is growing rapidly. There’s a real opportunity for successful agencies and other organizations involved in delivering care to scale operations.
But as the sector evolves, challenges are emerging. Communication issues are getting in the way of responsive and efficient at-home service. As a result, the need for telemedicine has never been greater.
If your organization is serious about serving more clients, consider combining strategy with telecommunications technologies.
Feature image courtesy of Helge V. Keitel
In Ontario and across Canada, health care is changing. Policymakers are recognizing the benefits of expanding in-home medical services – especially for aging patients. These benefits go far beyond government savings to include a higher quality of life for those receiving care.
Home care providers – from agency managers and directors to nurses, therapists, and personal support workers – have long known the value of in-home care. If you fill one of these roles, chances are you’ve seen smiles on the faces of clients who feel good about retaining their independence while experiencing the day-to-day comforts of home.
In a piece of great news for advocates, health ministers from across the country recently agreed to work together to improve home care. But positive change takes time, and right now, Canadians are reaching retirement age in droves. How will home care providers deal with the sudden leap in demand for services?
There’s a lot of government work to be done. But during the transition, home care technology can help agencies do more with less. This post will look at a crop of recent technologies and consider their potential to solve some of home care’s biggest problems.
New Demands, New Challenges
It’s happening. Canada’s population is getting older. In 2015, for the first year on record, there were more Canadians over the age of 65 than under the age of 14. Needless to say, the number of people living with chronic health conditions is growing quickly. Available space in traditional health care facilities is not.
On the bright side, being treated at home is the option most patients prefer. According to a 2013 RBC survey, a whopping 83% of Canadian baby boomers would rather receive health care in their homes than anywhere else. In many ways, government commitments to home care are a win-win. That said, those involved in providing and coordinating this care know there’s no quick and simple solution.
In Ontario, the government’s shift towards more home-centred care is happening fast. Many service providers and public agencies (CCACs in Ontario) are finding themselves stretched too thin. If you work for one of these organizations, you’re probably well aware of some of the major problems this situation has created.
As the number of people who need home care continues to grow, shortages of qualified registered nurses and PSWs is becoming a serious challenge. In many cases, agency directors are struggling to find dedicated and passionate staff who can fill the demand.
Meanwhile, a lot of existing caregivers are suffering from physical and emotional burnout. They’re dealing with the fatigue of constant commuting and the guilt of never feeling like they have enough time for the people they’re caring for.
Of course, providers are concerned first and foremost about impacts on their clients. In many cases, recent changes have resulted in fewer hours of care. This can mean more time alone, which can increase certain types of risk for some clients. Here are a few potential consequences that can result:
- Dangerous incidents – falls and other emergencies can occur when clients with limited mobility or dementia are left alone.
- Lapses in health-care routines – health risks can occur when clients forget to take medication or engage in other self-monitoring activities.
- Health complications – health complications can arise when in-home treatment is based on incomplete patient histories sent from hospitals and other facilities. Complications may also occur while clients are waiting to see busy specialists.
- Patient loneliness – social isolation can cause problems when client time with caregivers is cut.
If you’re a home care service provider, this situation may leave you feeling like you can’t provide the level of care and support your clients deserve. It’s a matter of too little time and too few resources – you can’t be everywhere at once.
The good news is, you probably have a talent for making the most of the resources you can access. At the moment, there are plenty of new resources to explore in the form of home care and aging in place technologies.
Home Care Technology: Providing Real Solutions
From emergency notification systems to videoconferencing platforms, home care technology helps clients retain their independence without sacrificing their safety.
Many of these technologies have the potential to do more than improve the lives of individual users. When implemented correctly, they can help home care agencies provide better, quicker and more responsive care to a larger number of clients.
Telemedicine is one of the most talked-about types of medical technology in the world, with good reason. There are huge benefits to connecting patients with health care providers remotely.
Nurses and PSWs can’t always be at a client’s home. But with the right digital videoconferencing platforms, they can use phones and tablets to check in from anywhere, at anytime.
The value of video contact is immense. Service providers receive visual confirmations that their clients are doing well. With some systems, they can send out and track reminders about medications and other activities. Clients see a friendly face. They get the opportunity to interact with caregivers in a way that’s more engaging than a simple phone call.
Videoconferencing can also be used when nurses performing in-home visits need to consult with outside specialists. For example, technology capable of capturing high-quality video can enable a wound care nurse to assess a patient’s wound remotely and advise her caregiver on how to treat it.
Wearable monitoring devices that track indicators of patient health – such as heart rate and blood sugar – can also help qualified health care providers get a more complete picture of what’s happening with the overall health of home care patients.
Advances in telemedicine and remote monitoring are allowing home care workers to treat more patients, more often – all without the stress of constant commuting.
Emergency notification systems are one of the most widely-used classes of aging in place technology. Given that an older adult dies from fall-related trauma every twenty seconds, it’s no wonder. Wearable devices that detect dangerous events and send out calls for help act as lifelines in many cases.
In the home care realm, service providers can set up emergency notification systems so that they’re notified the moment a client falls or experiences some other form of physical trauma. The sensor technology that makes fall detection possible can also be installed around the homes of clients who are prone to wandering and other risky behaviours.
These are just a handful of technologies relevant in the home care context.
What to look for
As more and more people with chronic health conditions are choosing to stay at home, the number of companies that provide home care technologies is growing. With so many solutions to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which ones will best serve the needs of your clients.
There are a few basic considerations to keep in mind. Technologies that work best for home care agencies tend to meet the following criteria.
- Intuitive and easy to use – These days, older people are navigating social media with ease. So it’s easy to forget that many older adults still aren’t very tech savvy. When selecting products that clients will interact with, think “intuitive”. Touch screens with clear visuals are great.
- Compatible with familiar technologies – Platforms and tools that can be accessed through everyday devices (like iPads, iPhones, and laptops) will more useful to everyone, including home care staff.
- Designed for family involvement – Technologies that enable a caregiver and client to interact and exchange information are even more useful when the client’s family members can be included. Adding new people for clients to talk to should be a simple process.
- Capable of meeting communication & data goals – Technologies that facilitate communication can serve other important functions, like collecting patient data and generating related reports.
Home care providers give people the support they need to stay safe and retain their independence, dignity and comfort. As at-home care expands, new technologies that advance these goals will continue to appear. In order to better serve their clients, providers should look to technology developers that understand their needs and share their values.