Innovative technological developments have always been important for growth. Whether it’s systemizing processes or creating new and improved ways to conduct business, technology has always been a catalyst for change that has helped create a better world. For instance, the home care industry is undergoing structural and functional changes in order to build a value-based care ecosystem for patients.
The advancement of homecare technologies has the potential not only to facilitate the role of home health care within the overall health care system but also to enhance community independence through the use of innovative technologies.
Aging is a global phenomenon.
According to The World Bank approximately 16% of the U.S. population today, nearly 52 million people, are aged 65 and older. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this senior population will grow by more than 50 percent over the next 15 years, to nearly 78 million people. By 2050, seniors will make up over 22 percent of the U.S. population.
A home care network consists of 3 major components:
- Participants: The participant is the patient and, therefore, the most important component of the home care network since the patient is the one receiving care.
- Providers: A provider is a healthcare professional or home healthcare agency that provides services to participants.
- Payers: The payer is the entity responsible for paying the providers. The payers can be public third-party payers, private third-party payers, such as health insurance companies, or even the patient and family.
However, you may wonder, how does technology help these constituents? Let’s look at the technologies that are shaping and assisting the care provision process:
1) Wearable technology:
Fitness trackers, fall detectors, and heart rate monitors have been around for some time, but what is interesting about this area of technology is what we can do with the data collected within these devices.
Data collectors can build a comprehensive picture of health by tracking everything from sleeping habits to exercise habits – meaning little to no intrusion into our lives. Using this vast spectrum of data gives scientists the information they need to not only make better assumptions and take better decisions but also build better health systems and develop more effective medications.
Research shows the global remote patient monitoring systems market size reached USD 965 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 5.1 billion by 2030. Most of this demand came from home treatment and health facilities. Sensors are devices that can be placed around the home, in appliances, and on patients.
Devices such as these alert caregivers if the senior misses meals, skips medicines, doesn’t get up or falls, and they also include a one-touch help button, medication reminders, daily activity sharing, step counting, and family alerts.
3) 5G network:
The ability of homecare & healthcare centers to provide care in remote or underserved areas through telemedicine is increasing. Therefore, a fast and reliable network is vital to providing high-quality services. 5G can be used to better support homecare organizations by making it easier to send large imaging files for specialists to review and offer advice instantly.
When it comes to home care, for instance, the 5G network will enable better point-of-care diagnostics, more reliable home monitoring, and even faster data exchanges between care staff and GPs, hospitals, and care managers. Furthermore, elderly adults in more rural areas will have access to better technology via the internet, ensuring no delays in care, no matter where they live.
In general, the most common concerns family members have regarding their elderly parents or relatives with Alzheimer’s or dementia revolve around safety. It is for this reason that family members and caregivers may decide to place an elderly one in an assisted living facility. Personal GPS tracking devices are a simple solution to many of these concerns.
With a GPS tracker attached to the patient, the caretaker can check on their whereabouts at any time using a smartphone or computer. It can be extremely useful for elderly individuals who wander and get lost, or for those who wish to run errands or go for walks without the pressure of being accompanied by someone else.
5) Mobile Apps:
Monitoring and communication features on mobile applications offer caregivers peace of mind while also enabling seniors to stay in touch with just a few taps on their phones.
It is a great tool for busy or absent-minded seniors to remember medications or appointments with reminder apps. Both iOS and Android have apps that can be set up to alert concerned people if a senior hit the panic button on their phone.
6) Voice-activated devices:
Alexa and Google Home have been touted as solutions to help the elderly live more independently, from companionship to helping take medication. Using voice control, you can create daily tasks and reminders, as well as receive alerts to turn off your lights, change the channel or call family members.
It has the potential to revolutionize the lives of elderly people with reduced mobility or independence. In the case of care providers, the device can be programmed to ensure that seniors take their medication on time and perform their daily routines.
7) AI and machine learning:
Combining a home monitoring system that learns behaviors and cues, with an app and software-based reporting system can help identify symptoms and concerns early, reducing hospital admissions and empowering elderly people to take charge of their health.
As AI and machine learning advance, it is possible to make predictive models that will assist doctors and patients in making faster, real-time decisions as well as diagnose issues at an early stage to provide preventative care.
From IoT and the IoMT to artificial intelligence (AI), new technologies are emerging every day. Moreover, it’s not just about convenient new devices and automation of existing ones; ongoing advancements in home health technology must offer better solutions for taking on the challenges of a growing home care market and its ever-increasing demands.
In addition to the buzz around digital technologies, savvy homecare organizations should also focus on measurable outcomes.