Can Technology Save Home Care?
Today over one million home health aides serve America’s home care patients, a number projected to hit nearly 1.4 million by 2018. In order to deliver quality care to homebound patients, home health aides use a variety of tools to report care information. However, the tools currently employed leave much to be desired: paper records capture minimal patient care information and are predominantly used for billing, while telephone-based timekeeping systems are used to track home aide hours and at best enter minimal care data at the end of a shift. In whatever form this information is collected, it is stale information and is not made visible to providers or families. In-home care management and monitoring technologies are breaking open this old paradigm and fundamentally transforming our ability to monitor a patient’s care at home, streamlining care coordination. In-home health management systems enable home care aides, family caregivers, and patients themselves to enter enormous amounts of real-time health care data. For example, the cloud-based care management system — eCaring — allows the tracking of medication intake and vital signs, in addition to daily routines and mental state, regardless of a user’s computer skills or health care literacy. For the first time, home care and hospice providers have access to real-time, round-the-clock care information via an easy-to-use, cloud-based platform. The system can also alert providers and family caregivers of significant events, such as a fall or repeat medication or meal refusal, prompting immediate response. Generating real-time data from a patient's home is emerging as an integral part of home health care for seniors, people with chronic conditions, and those at the end of life. Using technology within a home-based care model is key to optimizing quality of care, reducing utilization costs, and better engaging the home care workforce, patients, and families. But, who actually benefits from these enhancements in care coordination, care management, and advances in health care technologies?
- Patients in home health care situations provided with a system that promotes real-time provider actions in response to changes in their health status will have far stronger home care preventive support as well as be more engaged in their care, to be able to obtain higher quality, more personalized, care which will keep them in their homes and out of costlier, oppressive hospital or long-term care settings.
- Home Health Aides and Other In-home Caregivers can communicate with care management team members to gain more specific, actionable instructions that can prevent adverse events and hospitalizations, allowing them to deliver better care and reducing stress levels.
- Care Management Teams will be given extensive, actionable information about their patients in real time, allowing them to stratify risk, get alerted to potentially significant changes in health status, and triage costly resources, enabling them to coordinate activities in an informed manner and thereby provide better care.
- The Health Care System overall will greatly benefit from the decreased use of expensive services—such as e ER and hospital visits, provider visits, ambulance use, etc.—thus reducing unnecessary costs.