Fitness bands may well have been among the first widespread consumer-driven instance of personal health monitoring, but advances in technology have since changed healthcare forever. Clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers throughout Australia are adopting clinical and practice management solutions that reflect advances in technology and related legislation and standards that ensure data privacy and security.
The progression from paper-based record keeping to today’s digital medical records and e-health initiatives lead to improved efficiency, proactive healthcare solutions and of course, increased the ability to save lives by using data analysis to predict at risk groups.
As investors and tech entrepreneurs continue to make their presence felt in healthcare, future healthcare applications are only limited by the imagination. Healthcare providers are now embracing technology to provide added healthcare solutions to those most at risk, namely the elderly and those with disabilities or acute conditions such as diabetes.
Homecare Technology Overview
The elderly, those with disabilities or acute conditions can avail of a wide variety of health monitoring solutions (generally in the form of wearable devices) that collect data by monitoring vital signs and send it over the Internet to their healthcare provider. This data allows a diagnosis to be made, whether that involves a request for additional tests, a change in medication or a precautionary hospital stay for extensive monitoring.
The range of wearable devices is already quite extensive, with the healthcare provider selecting one that is suitable for the condition involved.
Who among us is willing to give up our independence? The same is certainly true of the elderly but by using wearable devices, many can stay in their own home, with a home carer where necessary. Medical alerts are possible with these devices and obviously, can also save lives when vital signs reach dangerous levels, immediately alerting healthcare providers.
Collaborating to Improve Quality of Life
In the elderly and those with disabilities, improving quality of life is a key aim and again, the use of the Internet and connected devices can certainly help. Video conferencing allows direct consults with medical professionals. Those living alone can contact their family and friends in real-time and ward off any feelings of isolation.
By using these collaborative methods, patients can reduce risks of mental illness and depression. By actively monitoring the health of those at risk, governments can reduce the costs of hospital admissions by using the data received to implement an enhanced triage process.
Home carers also benefit as they no longer worry about their patients between visits. They can check on them at any time using cloud solutions linked to onsite cameras in the patient’s home, for example. They are also confident that if vital signs change, they will receive an alert that prompts action.
It is certainly true that the modern healthcare provider has benefitted from technology. Routine admin tasks are automated, staff training is easier thanks to computer-based materials and with electronic medical records, wait times are reduced as a patient’s medical history is readily available. With ubiquitous high-speed broadband and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, medical professionals can work from anywhere. They can consult with specialist in other locations, share medical data to aid diagnosis and even use remote video to teach surgical techniques.
In conclusion, when home carers, patients and healthcare providers are all connected, it makes sense to assume that a better quality of healthcare will result. With the combination of technology, internet and a growing list of online services available, we, as a society, are better positioned to ensure that our sick and elderly live longer and enjoy a better quality of life to boot.
Can we really afford to ignore these benefits? I would encourage all of us to be innovators in this area rather than cling to outdated processes and technology. What do you think?