The gap between healthcare outcomes for rich and poor is increasing. Although innovation, digitization, and mobility are the three driving forces questing to balance cost containment and health care quality, we still lack convenience and affordability. Today, not many senior citizens are able to afford healthcare facilities, not all the businesses are providing it to the employees and very few governments are in the position of promising good healthcare facilities and services to the coming generation
Healthcare IT in a Nutshell
As of now, we are living the concept of connected health – the Technology Enabled Care (TEC). It is a crossroad of health technology, digital media, and mobile devices. The concept has empowered modern health care practitioners to access data and information with added ease to enhance the outcome and productivity of both health and social care.
With the increasing aging population globally, the demand for quality health and social care services is also increasing. The use of mobile technology has increased in last few years along with millennials; even older citizens also use the latest mobile devices with equal ease providing better opportunities and wider reach of health-related mobile apps. Besides, the modern hi-tech healthcare bio-sensing wearables; as if, digital blood pressure monitors and glucose sensors are playing a major role in providing real-time healthcare data and information to the patients. The advanced mobile technology has enabled healthcare mobile app developers to create apps with sensors to monitor changes in physiology.
Although mobile technology has the power to improve access to the healthcare services, there are various barriers to implementing these solutions. The European Commission has already mentioned widespread concerns regarding quality, reliability, data overload, privacy, and security. Whilst, there are few concerns regarding cost-effectiveness and affordability as the quality, reliability, and range of available mobile devices is huge. Previously most of the healthcare solutions used to be technology driven, often without the involvement of people for whom they were developed. Doctors were the most reluctant to engage with technology as they were worried about the scale and pace of digital transformation and partly due to the lack of education and training.
Healthcare IT Services and Senior Citizens
The global cultural and regulatory barriers restrict the adoption of TEC to some extent, which varies from country to country. Nevertheless, the increasing capability and decreasing costs of the healthcare technology ensured that financial barrier is not a major concern. Population growth resulted in increased longevity and presence of more chronic conditions in senior citizens thereby aggravating challenges in healthcare IT development. Over a quarter of senior citizens are suffering from long-term health ailments. Senior citizens suffering from chronic illnesses or long-term health conditions are using a significant portion of healthcare services (50% of GP appointments and 70% of days spent in hospital beds) and their care absorbs almost 50% of primary healthcare budgets.
The challenge for the future sustainability of healthcare systems is to find a balance between:
- Constrained budgets and the rising costs of advanced medical treatments
- Increasing complexity and costs of delivering care to an aging, comorbid population
- Increasing patient anticipations and need for better quality, patient-focused healthcare
- Reduced availability and increased costs of HCPs, in-patient beds, and residential care places.
A substantial research has ensured that the TEC, particularly in mobile digitally enabled technology has the potential to reduce healthcare costs and increase effectiveness and access of healthcare services to senior citizens thereby improving the outcome. The power and reach of the technology are capable of improving access and overcoming geographic barriers and shortages of HCP’s. Consequently, providing a more personalized focused and versatile approach to healthcare.
TEC Takes Control of Increasing Demands in Healthcare
With the increasing global mobile penetration ratio, there is a substantial increase in the number of senior citizens using mobile devices seamlessly. Senior citizens owning a smartphone are being encouraged to exercise, lose weight and improve the monitoring and management of their health via a staggering range of mobile health applications, which includes a growing number of medical health apps.
Mobile technology has enabled senior citizens to take control of their health and make them less dependent on the healthcare providers for health related information. Now senior citizens are able to use digital technology for searching information online, sharing experiences and identifying treatment options. Healthcare mobility has played a pivotal role in patient engagement by providing easy access to the information and education. So far, the widely used mobile healthcare apps are fitness, medical references apps.
The digital technology has enormous potential to improve many aspects of the health and social care service provisions. In last few years, the immense development in technology helped in improving the capabilities and functionality of wearable apps has greatly improved. Remote patient monitoring or monitoring changes in the health status of a patient from remote locations and using messages to remind or alert patients to adhere to their long-term course or treatment therapy has helped a lot in providing better healthcare services to senior citizens.
Compared to 2013 ($2.4 billion), the healthcare mobility market is expected to reach $21.5 billion by 2018 achieving a compound annual growth rate of 54.9%.
Connected Patients – A Boon to Senior Citizens Healthcare
Healthcare mobility has the potential to empower patients, healthcare practitioners, and caretakers by giving them more control over their health and social care needs. It reduces patient’s dependence on HCPs for information about their health. The Connected Patient Technology is capable to
- Improve self-management through education, remote monitoring, and treatment adherence.
- Identify and harness specific areas where traditional approaches failed to address the demands such as mental health
- Support development of online patient portals and patient communities
- Shift the balance of power and transform the collaborative relationship between the patient and HCP’s
Apart from the benefits bestowed by Healthcare IT to the patients, digital technology is also offering immense support to the HCPs – empowering them to make a crucial contribution to delivering health and social care.
Connected Patients and Healthcare Staff – Benefits to Senior Citizens
Urgent and Emergency Care
- Reduce emergency service activity by allowing patients to triage alarm calls to the most appropriate responders
- Collaborate and Integrate community, ambulance service and acute care
- Emphasize Remote Patient Monitoring to keep a watch on patients not transported to the hospital
- Conduct preoperative assessment
Hospital Administration & Management
- Appointment reminders by sending text and email messages
- Remote monitoring for pre and post-operative assessment and counseling
- Enhance preoperative behaviors and increase treatment adherence
- Mobility support for earlier discharge
Adult Home Care
- Providing education and training to the support staff for operating mobile apps and web portals
- Provisions to offer mHealth for care homes including teleconsultations between care home and hospitals
- Mobile consultation and ePrescriptions to senior citizens in the adult home care
- Facility to raise alarms/sensors, falls monitors, pendant alarms
- Healthcare Mobility solutions supporting rehabilitation, e.g. after stroke
- Patient portals addressing issues related to post-operative recovery & assessment
- Digital imaging informing rehabilitation tailored to meet typical home environments
- Internet-based therapeutic interventions and care support
- Palliative care system supporting senior citizens with dementia or at risk of falls or at end of life
- Remote audio and video conferencing with care team and patient
- Conducting online sessions to maintain helpful behaviors and apps enabling self-car in senior citizens
- Medication management apps encouraging correct use of medication
Recently healthcare IT has shifted its focus from HCP’s to patients. With this change, healthcare enterprises and establishments are emphasizing on developing mobility and digital healthcare solutions with a patient-centered, outcome-based delivery model. Undoubtedly, healthcare mobility will be an important partner in transforming social and health care services for senior citizens. The success of this partnership, however, will be the willingness of key stakeholders in embracing Healthcare mobility for good.