Digital technologies are accelerators of innovation.
Technology will improve efficiency, power new products and services, enable new business models, and blur the boundaries between industries. It is obvious though that there are challenges and opportunities for the acute care and Aged Care sector arising from the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting lockdown across health care sectors.
Care organisations across the industry including acute care, chronic care management, hospice, episodic post-surgery care, Home Care and others, are transforming the way they provide and deliver care to their patients.
Telehealth, remote patient monitoring and interoperability are now at the forefront of improving care and reducing costs. The onset of COVID-19 has amplified the need for these trends at unprecedented levels. Smart organisations are developing end- to- end strategies to deploy these technologies to care for their patients and their clinical staff during these challenging times.
Many healthcare vendors have quickly released a plethora of tactical tool-sets, education, templates patient engagement tools and reporting tools specific to COVID-19, said to have been designed to provide improved visibility, utilisation and quality & consistency for remote treatment. But not all of these are appropriate. Most are, in fact re-branded solutions looking for a market!
While social distancing and other safety measures are necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19, they can also leave seniors more isolated and disengaged from their families and communities, or some with no access to assigned care givers. Relevant and appropriate technology solutions need to be delivered to address the uncertain challenges that lie ahead. Technology can improve communication and act as an enabler for engaging the elderly population in Australia, while also keeping them from harm.
This hyper connectivity creates numerous opportunities to improve the monitoring and control of pandemics like COVID-19, and there are already some compelling initiatives.
Technology is empowering the elderly to:
- Stay at home and stay healthy: Virtual care integration with the existing Hospital or aged care system act as icing on the cake
- Do self-assessment of their functional status and report back automatically
- Live independently at home: Sensor technologies are assisting the elderly to prevent and detect falls and alerting clinicians and increasing sustained engagement by older people in fall prevention interventions.
- Tackle isolation boldly: patient engagement platforms along with interactive technologies like education, video games, virtual and augmented reality are helping the elderly to socialise and continue to lead an active life.
To help achieve these goals, telehealth services are now increasingly included as a component of community-based care for chronic conditions, mental health, and even palliative care. Through telehealth, providers can deliver a wide range of diagnostic, therapeutic, and care management services, as well as services to support family caregivers, such as communication tools with clinicians —services that otherwise would be delivered in a health care setting or through in person home visits. Telehealth has the potential to be an effective tool for improving access and continuity, improving outcomes, and lowering costs for all concerned.
Napier Healthcare have designed The Napier Virtual Care platform to meet the challenges of remote patient care and offer benefits to both clinician and the recipient across many healthcare settings.
It will provide the following benefits for all parties;
- Reduce the burden and cost of travel
- Reduce the frequency of in office/surgery/ hospital or residential care visits
- Enable homecare providers to consistently be in touch with and monitor clients
- Lower out of pocket cost for both care giver and recipient
- Provide alerts to the clinicians or care givers for early intervention via thresholds
- Provide ongoing support, information and education for the elderly and family care givers
- Reduce stress and increase wellbeing for family caregivers and recipients.
- Enable contact free consultation and monitoring of various clinical needs
- Provide continuous case related education specific to each patient or client
- Assist in adherence to medication management, provide care plans for diet, social and lifestyle
Does Telehealth Deliver better outcomes?
Many research studies report that telehealth interventions produce positive outcomes such as reduced mortality, improved quality of life, and reduced hospital admissions. Studies often report that providers, patients, and families are satisfied with the quality of video visits and that patients and caregivers can manage the technology and provide data that otherwise would not have been available to the health care providers.
The US Department of Health and Human Services concluded that “telehealth is effective for specific uses with some types of patients, including remote patient monitoring for patients with chronic conditions, communication and counselling for patients with chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and psychotherapy as part of behavioural health. For these telehealth applications, the research focus is now shifting to promote broader implementation and address barriers currently in place.
Napier Healthcare have deployed an Australian cloud based Virtual Care solution and are providing access to a limited number of organisations for a fraction of the usual cost. These organisations are existing clients in residential care, homecare businesses struggling to keep in touch with their clients due to current restrictions as well as several of the more remote medical centres. The decision was made to provide this as a community service for the current period after several of their homecare clients advised they were having many of their care recipients cancel appointments due to fear of Covid-19. We seek to reduce the risk for all parties, the organisation, the care giver and the care recipient, as well effectively reducing costs associated with the visit.
As technology progresses and more care is delivered via telephone, video, Mobile app, and other telehealth methods, more research will be needed to identify which care model offers the highest quality with the best outcome to consumers. As more care is provided via telehealth services, there will be more evidence to further demonstrate telehealth’s usefulness and its cost-effectiveness. As payers and providers seek to improve long-term, comprehensive care for adults with complex needs in the community, the needs and preferences of older adults and family caregivers should guide the development and integration of home telehealth strategies.
For more information on Napier Virtual Care or to partake in the current program on offer;