Health-monitoring technologies can be useful tools for healthcare providers; particularly when they are used in a preventive care regime, they can keep seniors in their homes and out of the emergency room.
Healthcare applications should be a $400-million-plus market in 2016, fueled primarily by sports and fitness applications’ continued popularity, according to ABI Research.
The research firm states that home-monitoring systems, personal emergency-response services, and remote healthcare-monitoring applications are a growing portion of this market, which has been transformed by the availability of low-cost mobile tools, able to wirelessly connect with wearable devices, such as monitors or sensors. The information collected (glucose levels or vital signs, such as blood pressure) can be transmitted to the healthcare provider.
Many of these types of systems are designed for a healthcare provider to offer its patients, rather than for an individual to purchase off-the-shelf. The in-home devices are but a fraction of such an interconnected system.
AMC Health’s Connect-CELL, for example, is a communication hub designed to gather data from multiple homecare sensors to a remote medical monitoring center. These devices can be connected using various technologies such as Bluetooth, or using wireless networks. Physicians and caregivers then access a secure web-based application, to examine the data and provide information to the patient, or even respond to critical conditions.
Healthcare provider monitoring is also being introduced. One such RFID-based system, the Proventix nGage system, tracks hand hygiene activity in order to reduce healthcare-associated infections. In a hospital setting, the system recognizes an individual as they enter a patient’s room. After washing their hands, they are provided with patient information such as the patient’s risk for a fall. The company states that the system can also reward the employee for compliance by providing them with information such as sports scores.
Health-monitoring technology adoption has progressed slowly, although the number of systems available continues to grow, and existing products evolve. Healthcare providers are pushing federal legislators to expand use of those technologies that enable home health agencies and nurses to remotely monitor patients’ heart activity and blood pressure.
Legislation before Congress, known as the Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act, would provide incentives to those home health agencies using telehealth technologies that can demonstrate cost savings under Medicare. Even without such legislation, organizations continue investing in these systems as they expect they will provide future cost savings.
Several healthcare providers recently told Congressional lawmakers — in a presentation organized by Philips Healthcare, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and the Home Care Technology Association of America — that these sorts of technologies are essential, if not critical.
“You wouldn’t need a FITT Act if Medicare wasn’t out of sync with today’s medical needs,” said Suzanne Mintz, president and chief executive officer of the National Family Caregivers Association. “The fact that Medicare doesn’t cover [home health technologies] is a sign that Medicare was designed as an acute care program for people who didn’t have many years to live.”
These technologies are also important for both patients and caregivers, she says. “Family caregivers, despite their numbers, feel very isolated…The idea of being connected to a nurse who can react on the spot…has a very powerful effect.”
Author Bio: Linda Dailey Paulson is a professional journalist for firstSTREET Online, a leading provider of unique gifts for seniors. Check out the firstSTREET blog, for more information on health and technology for seniors.