Rapid advances in healthcare technology have shifted the economics of home healthcare delivery. As technologies, networks, and applications progress, what healthcare services are likely to be delivered at “home” and with what technologies 5 or even 10 years from now?
As little at 25 years ago, the home was not considered to be a place in which good healthcare delivery could – or should – occur. However, times have changed, and home-based healthcare is now a successful, appealing option. What this means in practice is that many medical services are already delivered to people at home, including geriatric care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, as well as medical social services and home health aides.
The change to more home based healthcare delivery is being driven by a number of factors but most importantly by the need to take the pressure off hospitals and clinics and save on costs. According to research, around 20% hospitalizations resulted in often-avoidable and costly readmissions. Healthcare professionals can reduce this cost in many ways:
- Helping patients to better understand their condition
- Reducing confusion over medications
- Giving feedback on test results
- Necessary follow-up appointments with a doctor or nurse
- Educating family members on how to provide adequate care
- Providing simple medical interventions where necessary
Providing any or all of the above is best delivered with the aid of modern technology. What technology is likely to be most useful in a home healthcare setting?
- Because patients are often dealt with or treated by more than one health person in the course of their care, technology can really help to make sure that data is well collated and communicated. This includes making sure that a home nurse has the ability to access patient’s entire record via a smartphone or tablet during a visit.
- A home health professional might access a portal through which to communicate with the overseeing physician in response to in-home alerts about changes in the patient’s condition.
- Technology makes it possible for home healthcare professionals to check real-time drug interaction updates, as well as ensure that drugs are taken on time and in the right proportion.
- As we suggested earlier, patients today can use telemedicine channels to liaise remotely with their doctors and nurses and obtain instant responses to in-home situations, often avoiding costly doctor visits and hospitalizations.
- Sophisticated web-based software is now readily available to help home healthcare individuals and agencies to work more efficiently and effectively by scheduling visits optimally in certain geographic areas or by matching patent needs with the healthcare professional who can best help them.
- Prescription management, disease management, and behavioral education for patients is now all possible via e-learning, technology helping healthcare providers to deliver innovative and cost-effective approaches to deliver high quality, patient-centered, well-coordinated care at a greater reach and scale.
In summary then, more and more patients prefer to receive healthcare services in the comfort and dignity of their own homes. This not only helps the patient but helps medical establishments including doctor’s practices, clinics and hospitals to save money and reduce costly readmissions. This all helps to make the overall healthcare system more effective at a lower cost to all.
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CEO-RX4 Group-The Business of Healthcare
Jon is the CEO of RX4 Group based in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jon@RX4group.com