Only one generation ago, home health care was still viewed by most as a luxury reserved for those...
Only one generation ago, home health care was still viewed by most as a luxury reserved for those with a big bank account. Today, however, technological advancements are fast making home care much easier, more effective, and more accessible to ordinary people.
What Are Home Care Technologies? How Do They Help To Improve The Quality Of Home Care?
With significant increases in the average life expectancy has come the problem of an aging population. Combine this with limited healthcare resources and one can easily see why home care is increasingly becoming a viable option. It has, in fact, become one of the most rapidly expanding fields in many countries’ healthcare systems.
To improve the quality of home care in a cost-effective and efficient manner, technology-driven solutions are seen by many experts as the only viable long-term solution. They provide the opportunity for world-class home healthcare at a fraction of the cost of a human-driven system.
Home health care technology solutions can play a major role in fields such as remotely monitoring clients and intervening at their home instead of in a much more expensive institutional environment. This is particularly true in the case of chronic diseases.
Top 7 Home Care Technology Innovations To Start Using Today
Below we take a look at the 7 advanced technologies in home care available today, their functions, and their benefits.
1. AI And Machine Learning Devices
AI and machine learning in healthcare refer to the process of feeding large amounts of health-related data into a computer that can analyze this in a split second and come up with a solution or recommendation that could save someone’s life.
For example, the data can come from wearable devices such as heart rate monitors, blood pressure monitors, movement monitors, etc. A system using AI and machine learning technologies could play an important role in analyzing and reporting early signs of a heart attack or stroke. These systems are often used in conjunction with wearable senior home care technologies (see below).
2. Wearable Home Health Care Technologies
This refers to the use of devices for sensors that remotely monitor an individual’s biological, physiological, or behavioral data and transmits that information to a control room staffed by medical professionals.
A simple example is a wearable device that monitors the patient’s heart rate or blood pressure. Another example is a sensor that monitors his or her movement and their use of domestic and power appliances - and that can also detect a possible fall. The moment a deviation from the norm is detected, an alarm could be raised. This creates the opportunity for early intervention to prevent a possible crisis.
3. Point-Of-Care Diagnostics Technology
POXT refers to technologies that can deliver actionable information right where the patient is, i.e. without them having to visit a consulting room or hospital. This means there is no need for laboratory-based testing. Examples of point-of-care technologies include home pregnancy tests, the measurement of a diabetic patient’s blood glucose levels, urine dipsticks, follow-ups during anticoagulant treatment, and hemoglobin tests.
4. Voice-Activated Devices
Most of us are familiar with Siri, the iPhone’s virtual assistant. Amazon has its own version in the form of Alexa. And Google has Google Assistant. The same technology is used in voice-activated healthcare devices, where a computer bot is able to listen to what someone says and then act upon it.
An example is Voice Panic Detector, a device that eliminates the need for the patient to pull a cord, press a button, or wait for the monitoring system to detect that there is a problem. All he or she has to do is to shout “I need help” and the device will connect them to the help they need. Many prominent scientists foresee a future where voice-activated devices will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment, just like a human doctor would.
5. A 5-G Network
The remarkably high data speeds and low latency offered by 5-G networks are opening up many new possibilities in healthcare, including home health care. 5G’s groundbreaking features could play a major role in areas such as remote surgery, telehealth, tracking the patient’s movements inside their home, quickly transferring large amounts of medical data to a control center, live monitoring of health conditions, and the real-time transfer of data from the patient to a healthcare professional and vice versa. For people who are unable to easily make the journey to their nearest doctor, 5G also makes it possible for the physician to “visit” them online for a live consultation.
6. Healthcare Chatbots
The number of chatbots that are being used in the healthcare industry (including home care) has increased significantly in recent years. One health chatbot going by the name of Gyant, for example, asks patients a variety of questions in order to better understand their symptoms and then sends the information to a doctor.
The latter is provided with sufficient data to make a diagnosis and issue a prescription for medication - all in real time. In the future, these computer algorithms will most likely take over the role of being the first contact point for primary healthcare. Patients will no longer first contact a medical professional with their health questions but will instead consult a chatbot for answers.
7. Virtual Reality
This term refers to the use of computer technology to program a simulated reality in which users can immerse themselves. Unlike, for example, a smartphone or laptop screen, virtual reality places you right inside the simulated environment. The latest VR systems can simulate senses such as smell, hearing, vision, and even touch.
Using super-realistic CGI virtual reality applications, medical practitioners can show someone important information about their condition in great detail. This helps them to visualize not only their conditions but also how treatments and therapies are going to work.
The following, in the field of home healthcare, already benefit from virtual reality applications: Neuroscience, medicine, psychology, mental health treatment, occupational and physical therapy, clinical skills training, and cognitive and motor skills rehabilitation.
The Bottom Line
From the above, it should be clear that technological innovations can and should play a major role in home healthcare. There are, however, also a few challenges. Below we look briefly at what they are and how they can be resolved.
Not always user-friendly. The moment a technological innovation becomes too involved for the average person, it loses a lot of its usefulness. Examples include user interfaces that offer too little or too much data and navigation systems that do not deliver a positive user experience.
This issue can be resolved by making sure you have the right type of healthcare developers who can ensure that the system is easy to navigate and user-friendly. They could, for example, use a step-by-step navigation system to make things less complicated.
Interoperability Issues. Interoperability refers to a system’s ability to exchange, access, and integrate a specific patient’s user data. It is a major problem when someone’s patient data can not be accessed, even with the correct Electronic Health Records.
To resolve this issue, the best solution is to implement a cloud-based system. Not only is such a system safe and secure, but it can be accessed by an authorized individual from anywhere on earth.
Problems with asset tracking. Healthcare professionals often have issues with tracking the health reports and medical histories of their patients. They find that it takes a lot of time and sometimes causes long delays.
The solution is that caregivers should be properly trained by product representatives so they are able to use the particular type of technology without losing valuable time that could endanger the patient’s life.