Global

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  • Industry: Healthcare
  • Type: Survey report
  • Date: 5/21/2013

Embrace technology 

Embrace technology
Long term care remains highly labor-intensive and technology can bring significant efficiencies and improve life for the elderly.

Information technology can ensure a real time flow of data between care recipients and providers and make administration, record keeping and reporting more efficient. Remote monitoring systems have reduced the level of care required by elderly dependents, alerting providers when intervention is necessary and enabling many people to be treated at home or at local centers rather than in hospitals. This raises capacity, brings substantial savings and gives people greater independence. In Finland, voice systems linking nursing home patients to caregivers have had a major impact on productivity.



“In terms of technology, China is actually quite up to date with the other countries in looking at telecare and mobile health. We are starting to look at developing all the services for care recipients in their home and using these technology networks to reach out to build transitional care….it’s what we call the virtual nursing home.”


Ninie Wang, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Pinetree Senior Care Services, China



Health monitors – worn externally or as implants – can communicate with wireless networks and are especially useful for people with cognitive and physical disabilities; health professionals can monitor vital functions and detect emergency conditions and developing diseases at an early stage. Small accelerometers, for example, can show when a patient falls, using GPS (global positioning system) to guide health professionals to the location for treatment.


Sophisticated data analysis enables more accurate case identification and risk assessment, while some home and community care service providers use mobile technology to communicate with employees traveling between clients’ homes, as well as to track productivity.


Despite the huge potential gains, long term care providers have been slow to adopt new technology, partly due to the continued availability of low-cost labor. They are also deterred by the high costs of installing equipment and the need to centralize often fragmented networks of care homes. Residential or nursing homes are also concerned with how remote communications can lead to less human contact and greater loneliness and isolation. Technology use should therefore still maintain a reasonable level of personal interaction.



“Telecare is just taking off. There is more evidence now about its benefits in terms of keeping people out of hospital, keeping people independent and the prices are now coming down. We need to shift to a model where people can buy these telecare products themselves.”


Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow, The King’s Fund, UK


 

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