In-home care of patients has often been considered to be better than nursing home care for both the recipient and the caregiver as well. The cost of care in a nursing home or assisted living facility can be expensive and most likely, the patient would prefer being in their own home setting.
The Evolution of Medical Technology for Caregivers
Originally, in-home health care after a hospital visit meant a child, family member, or paid caregiver staying with the patient round the clock. The caregiver was there not only to provide care, but also in case there was an accident or the patient was to become immobile or unable to call for help.
With new and advancing technologies, many caregivers can monitor the patient without having to be in the home the entire time. This allows more patients to live independently and in their own home for a longer period.
“It’s been shown that 40% of family caregivers obtain assistive technology on behalf of their care recipient.”
Technology has also increased the portability of medical equipment that once was only available in a hospital setting. The availability of these portable devices now can allow for ongoing medical treatment in a non-hospital setting.
It’s been shown that 40% of family caregivers obtain assistive technology on behalf of their care recipient. Assistive technology not only slows the rate of functional decline, but can also reduce caregiving costs and prevent physical disability due to falling.
What Technology Is Available
Currently, a wide variety of technology and advanced medical equipment exists and is available to patients and caregivers.
Though you’re able to find a multitude of outlets ranging from medical supply centers, technology stores, and online distributors, it’s best to go with reputable sources. The General Accounting Office estimates that Medicare fraud cost the government $18 billion last year.
An area where technology has evolved is prescription management. It is estimated that 60% of medication prescribed is not taken correctly, and many of these cases can result in hospitalization.
Devices such as the E-Pill system not only organize a patient’s medication, but will also automatically dispense it to and alert the patient when it’s time to take it.
Personal Response Systems
Personal response systems, such as Life Alert, allow patients to remotely call for help. By signaling with the device, the patient will be put into direct contact with a service that will assess the situation and send the appropriate help to the patient’s home.
New telehealth systems, such as the Trapollo brand monitoring system, have the ability to not only capture vitals from the patient, but are also able to transmit the information via a wireless network. This information can include temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, heart rate, and weight.
“With proper tele-monitoring, the patient’s chance of readmission to a hospital can be reduced from 50% to 70%.”
The information can be accessed at any time by the patient’s doctor, caregiver, and family members. Alerts systems can also be placed to notify caregivers if their vitals go out of a preprogrammed range.
With proper tele-monitoring, the patient’s chance of re-admission to a hospital can be reduced from 50% to 70%. Given the benefit, it’s a shame only 23% of home health care agencies use telehealth systems. In addition, nearly 40% of large agencies and 50% of small agencies that have telehealth units that are not in use.
How Caregivers Can Take Advantage
The greatest benefit caregivers can get from the advancement in home health care technology is peace of mind. For those caregivers who are unable to give round the clock care, they will be able to step away and feel confident that their loved one can summon help if necessary.
If the patient requires much closer attention, technology will allow the caregiver to monitor the patient remotely.
The Benefits to Patients
Technology not only is a benefit to the caregivers, but to the patients as well. The most important of these is that the patient will be able to continue to live in their own home setting and in a place they are familiar. They will also be able to feel less of a burden to their children, time wise and also financially.
Being a patient caregiver no longer has to be a stressful 24/7 job. With current innovations in technology and even more to come, more patients will be able to live more independently in their home for long periods of time.
About the author:
Dennis Silva is a Co-Founder of Omni Care Hospice, a provider of compassionate, quality home hospice care in Las Vegas that meets the needs of people with life-limiting illnesses and their families.