July 26, 2018
Traditionally, patients had to travel to healthcare facilities far and wide and wait patiently for their turn to see the doctor. At times, this would be challenging for certain demographic segments such as patients from economically weaker sections (EWS), rural areas and especially, the elderly age-group. The aging population, in particular, with their need for increased care and frequent mobility, find it a challenge to travel far to access healthcare.
Home-based care has arrived as a transforming advancement in the field of elderly care, for sure. This care-segment has shown a significant movement in recent years and is slated to increase the pace in days to come. A report by Persistent Market Research estimates the global elder care services market to grow at 8.5% year on year and reach US$ 1,919.8 billion by 2026.
Healthcare providers are fully aware of it and they are making home-based care for the elderly patients a priority. They are striving to deliver the best care and experience to patients. Technology, the greatest disruptor of all time, has given them a giant leap in this pursuit by making it convenient for the patient to access care right at their doorstep, using various mobile healthcare apps.
Enabled by technology, home-based care brings along a bundle of benefits to the elderly patients. A key of these benefits are as below:
◙ Appointment scheduling: The need and frequency of care increases with age. A timely medical assistance is critical for the elderly patients for a seamless care. In this area, artificial intelligence (AI) has empowered the patients to get a seamless delivery of care with an easily automated scheduling. The providers are also using predictive modeling to understand the need for scheduling, home appointment, medicines and even cancellation. Thus they can send the caregiver equipped with required care arrangements timely and deliver an optimized care to the patient at home.
◙ Reduced cost of treatment: Through telehealth and telemedicine, it is possible today for the doctors and clinicians to deliver remote care to the elderly patients. Therefore, the travel costs are out of the picture. With the help of mobile applications for patients, many aspects of care can be handled remotely now such as basic check-ups, consultation etc. This mitigates the need for in-person follow-up appointments and readmissions and saves the costs associated with them.
◙ Enhanced patient experience: Automated scheduling and care at doorstep cut down on waiting time for the patients and they are able to get a timely medical assistance. With automation, AI takes away mundane high-volume tasks such as patient data entry, recording patient interactions etc. from the doctors and medical staff. This saves them a lot of time which they can utilize in attending to high-priority tasks and issues related to patient health and delivering a better quality care. Overall, this results in a much better experience for the patients.
Now let us take a glance over the technological introductions in the elderly care and how they are revamping how the care is delivered to the aging population.
Children or relatives of the old patients can monitor their well-being in real-time using cameras. It is easy to see their movements and how they are being treated. Mobile applications for patients terminate the possibilities of abuse or misbehavior with the patients by a caregiver.
Additionally, if the patients need privacy and do not appreciate an invasiveness, sensors can be used as an alternative to cameras. Although they do not relay pictures, they are quick to pick up any anomaly in physical activity, including no body movement beyond an acceptable time, and raise an alert. Smart sensors can detect and monitor motion, temperature, time etc. alert the relatives or neighbors in case of suspicion.
Also, the use of connected devices brings down the risk of accidents arising out of movements of the patients across the house.
Smartphones have added patient care to their portfolio of advantages with mobile healthcare apps. There are several health apps on the market today which are aimed to manage and improve the health of the users including elderly patients. These apps have proved to be immensely helpful for the patients and their families. Using the apps, patients and their families can observe the health progress in real-time and record and monitor, medication, blood pressure, heartbeats, locations etc. This data can then be shared with the doctors to design an appropriate treatment plan.
Telemedicine is a next-gen introduction to the field of medical science. Using it, the doctors can remotely deliver the required basic medical assistance to the elderly patients. Also, it reduces the need for hospital visits. They can have the access to drugs in the comfort of their homes on a mobile or an IoT-enable device. If implemented properly and thoroughly, it has the potential to transform the face of healthcare, especially in rural and remote areas. It can also cut down the treatment costs significantly.
Internet of Things (IoT) has become another revolutionary introduction of technology which cuts down significantly the time and cost involved in hospital visits and human intervention. It enables the doctors and clinicians to monitor the performance of their patients virtually from any remote location.
With visual and hearing senses going weaker, aging patients are susceptible to situations which may require an urgent assistance when they are alone. Application of sensors, IoT, and location-based services, however, can enable them like never before. The families can immediately be alerted in case of a fall or no response and get the location of the patient. Technology has thus ensured that the patients have the immediate help available in cases of emergency.
Clearly, medication is an integral part of treatment and instrumental in successful results and faster recovery of the patients. Age sometimes affects memory and the patients may miss out on taking their medication on time. Wearable technology for health is proving to be an excellent solution to drug adherence, especially in the case of elderly patients. These devices can remind the patients or their families at the time when the patient should take his/her medicine, based on the prescriptions given by the doctors. The devices also send out an alert in case of non-adherence.
Technology, indeed, is transforming all the aspects of the healthcare industry and aiming to optimize patient care and experience by raising the standard of care delivery. With the number of senior citizens growing, elderly care is an important parameter to appraise care delivery where an increased intervention of technology can be seen clearly. More and more healthcare organizations are going more digital to raise the benchmarks of elderly care and the trend appears to continue.
It is sure there is more to come in the segment. What’s sure as of now that technology and healthcare apps brings a comprehensive package of advantages here and benefits everyone associated. The families of the elderly patients are assured that they can always monitor and track the well-being of the patients. The patients have the assistance available as and when needed and at the same time, they can enjoy their privacy and independence. And, the caregivers are happy that technology has replaced human staff taking up volumes or mundane tasks.
Now they can concentrate on core-patient issues and delivering the best quality care available.