A once-futuristic practice in healthcare that is gaining traction with more providers thanks to the rapid improvement and availability of streaming and mobile technology is telehealth. Telehealth itself encompasses a variety of technologies and tactics to deliver virtual medical, health, and education services between two remote locations. Aging adults are one particular group of people who will soon enjoy the benefits of this innovation.
As the number of baby boomers who are reaching retirement age rapidly increases in the next few years, telehealth will become more feasible and attractive to providers looking to offer them high-quality patient care in their preferred location: Home. According to results from a 2012 survey of AARP members, nearly 90 percent of people older than 65 want to stay in their home as long as possible, and 80 percent believe that their current residence is where they will always live.
ElderServe, a nonprofit organization, has been a champion for improving the lives of aging adults. With their work in telehealth and telecare, they have helped older adults and people with disabilities remain in their home safely and independently. “It is important that the healthcare industry adapts to the needs of an aging population. Telehealth can greatly improve healthcare for home-bound and home-limited seniors,” said Marketing Manager Drew Hight.
With this in mind, remote healthcare may soon be the differentiating factor among providers that convince a patient to seek one over the other. Luckily for these future in-home care patients, the high-speed internet required for broadcasting live video feed is becoming more and more available to any location, thanks to aggressive campaigns from the likes of Google, Facebook, and other tech giants looking to connect the world to broadband.
Not only is this streaming technology behind telehealth improving, but also remote monitoring technology is innovating; it is helping to make the process of providing remote care even more reliable and efficient. Wearables such as smartwatches and fitness bands have become much more familiar to the average person than they were even three years ago, meaning we are more open and used to having our movements and physical wellness tracked by technology than ever before. If patients wear technology, doctors can increasingly count on those devices to warn them of a potential health issue even before the patient realizes it. In this way, healthcare will continue to become more contextual and predictive than reactive.
“The innovations in this area have the potential to significantly change lives by enabling seniors to connect to family, health providers and community support without transportation and mobility barriers that often isolate this vulnerable population,” said CEO of ElderServe Julie Guenthner.
For healthcare providers to take advantage of our modern pace of innovation without sacrificing the quality and reliability of patient care, they must take a more holistic approach to new solutions and understand which technologies best fit their needs. Now more than ever, that means providers must consider telehealth and remote monitoring as an integral part of care delivery moving forward.
Steve Fowler is Director of Sales at Interapt, a technology firm and Google partner developing mobile and wearable tools for healthcare, including its HIPAA-compliant texting app Scribblit. Follow him on Twitter at@SFowlerMobile.
To learn more about telehealth, wearables, and improving patient care check out Interapt