Telemedicine is quickly becoming the new wave of the future. And for seniors, it’s providing better access to quality healthcare in a more affordable way.
If you’re like those of us here at Freedom Home Care, then you probably agree that the health and well-being of our seniors is one of our greatest priorities. Finding solutions that meet the needs of older loved ones is crucial, especially when we can’t be there to care for them. And telemedicine does just that.
What is Telemedicine?
It’s the practice of using electronic communications to monitor and improve the health of patients. Through the use of technology, patients who are limited in mobility or without transportation, can communicate with their physicians, while getting the care they need, from the comfort of their own homes.
Telemedicine falls under the umbrella of ‘telehealth’ which includes a wider range of services like remote monitoring of vital signs, video conferencing, nurse call centers, transmission of still images and patient portals – all designed to create a healthcare experience similar to what you would receive in a traditional office setting.
How It Works
An organization like Lutheran SeniorLife – a senior living community – provides patients with a “sports watch” created by MobileCare Monitor that alerts a nurse’s aide if there’s a fall or some other type of emergency. It senses there’s a problem and sends a text message to the aide and the company’s CareStation interface. Other providers monitor their patient’s vitals and conduct routine check-ins through two-way video calls.
It all depends on which providers are participating in the program and the type of services available to your loved one.
What Are the Benefits?
The goal for telemedicine is to bring comprehensive healthcare right to your door. Some of the program’s benefits include:
Cutting out travel time to the doctor
Reducing hospital readmissions
Eliminating trips to the ER
Lower ER costs
Inexpensive virtual doctor’s visits
Less time spent monitoring your loved one
Less time spent away from work
Empowering the patient
Peace of mind
Telemedicine in Action
Several years ago, Lutheran SeniorLife, piloted a program called Life where it provided comprehensive medical care, adult day care and home care services to medically challenged seniors.
When the company began the pilot program, it transferred 24 nursing home patients to a senior housing complex. During the move, one of the patients had fallen from her bed. Because the MobileCare Monitor system was in place, a nurse was quickly able to come to her aid.
Since then, the number of patients Lutheran SeniorLife has had to move into nursing homes has fallen 8 percent.
Telemedicine’s Impact on the Industry
In 2007, the telemedicine patient monitoring market grew from $4.2 billion to more than $10 billion in 2012. And according to Kaloroma Information, which publishes medical market research, those numbers are expected to increase to $8.7 billion this year.
If your loved one is obtaining personalized elder care, has mobility issues or is limited in terms of transportation, telemedicine may be the solution for you.