Technologies driving home-based care
Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a five-article series that will explore the evolution of care to more patient-centric, virtual, and in-home. The first article discussed home-based care from the patient perspective. and the second article looked at the heightened cybersecurity needs of home-based care. Additional articles will look at home-based care from other perspectives, including the impact on home health care workers, the scope of digital tools and devices required, and how health IT officers are leading the healthcare to home charge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred significant changes in the world, most notably in healthcare, where we have witnessed an increased adoption of home-based care. It makes sense – patients want to be comfortable while receiving care and healthcare providers can deliver care in an efficient and cost-effective manner as long as they have the right digital tools to support the care delivery process.
Among the key advancements are remote patient monitoring, machine learning, cloud-based technology, telemedicine, and other virtual services. However, these tools’ introduction is not without challenges. The transition to home-based care requires technologies and medical devices that enable effective care delivery, with a stringent emphasis on patient data protection. For a seamless shift, healthcare providers must consider the comprehensive integration of these new tools into existing workflows, along with tech support to ensure the delivery of high-quality home-based care.
Technology shaping home-based care
Remote patient monitoring allows physicians to track and analyze patient health data in real-time, facilitating early detection of medical concerns and prompt intervention. Remote patient monitoring tools can help reduce hospital admissions and emergency room visits and help deliver better health outcomes overall.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), capable of processing vast quantities of data and recognizing patterns, can assist healthcare providers in making more accurate diagnoses and personalized treatments plans. Their predictive analytics capabilities allow healthcare providers to anticipate patient needs, making proactive care a reality.
Cloud-based solutions offer secure, real-time storage and sharing of patient health records, fostering effective communication between patients, healthcare providers, and payers. This efficient communication system allows for coordinated care, quicker responses to health emergencies, and enhanced decision-making processes.
Telemedicine and other virtual services have been instrumental in advancing home-based healthcare. Reliance on telehealth services skyrocketed by 38% after the pandemic and it’s no wonder why – telehealth offers convenience to both patients and providers by creating an avenue to care that takes less time and requires no travel. Telehealth has also improved care for high-risk patients, or patients with multiple chronic conditions, because it allows for consistent monitoring between in-person visits and timely interventions based on the patient’s immediate condition.
Key components of successful home-based care
Healthcare provider training and patient engagement
For healthcare providers to effectively utilize home-based care technologies, comprehensive training is crucial. This training helps bridge the gap between traditional healthcare methods and innovative approaches, ensuring providers are competent and comfortable with the digital shift.
Organizations need to assess their ability to educate not only their staff but also patients, as patient engagement is a key factor in the success of home-based care.
“Consumers of this technology or this expanded care model really need to be trained and have something that’s user friendly, otherwise, they’re not going to use it, and we’re back at square one,” said Andrea Daugherty, PubSec Head of Digital Healthcare at SHI. “If we don’t have technology that is user-friendly, it’s not going to be successful.”
Secure data exchange
Establishing efficient data exchange mechanisms between patients’ homes, providers, and payers is essential for effective health-at-home care. This requires implementing , cloud-based electronic health record systems that ensure real-time data accessibility and interoperability. As health-at-home care continues to evolve, adopting these new data exchange processes will be crucial for ensuring continuity and quality of care.
“Delivery of care in the home is one of the most promising opportunities that we have today to expand access to care, improve quality and lower costs but it does come without challenges. One of the biggest challenges that healthcare currently faces is being able to identify, monitor and manage everything that is connected to networks and ensuring the necessary patching cadence and frameworks are in place,” Daugherty explained.
“Protecting data and assets beyond the hospital, whether it be home or other community locations, further complicates operations. . Fortunately, there are a number of emerging technologies and partners that health systems can now leverage to automate and reduce to the operations burden. ”
Maintaining the infrastructure
Beyond providing the necessary tools for home-based care programs, hospitals and health systems must ensure they have the resources to maintain the required infrastructure. This includes ongoing technical support and regular system upgrades, which ensure the technologies continue to operate effectively and securely over time. Also, organizations must ensure they have sufficient capacity for user guidance and support, as this plays a significant role in patient compliance and satisfaction.
Leveraging Managed Service Providers
A practical approach to these challenges is partnering with managed service providers. By offloading daily operations to these partners, IT staff are freed to focus on the organizations’ strategic initiatives. This collaboration can significantly ease the transition to home-based care, ensuring the benefits of the implemented technologies are fully realized, and maintaining a sustainable and scalable home-based healthcare system.
As healthcare organizations look to expand into home-based care, it is essential to remember that technology, while crucial, is just one part of the equation. For home-based care to be successful, technology must be embraced by clinicians, patients, and caregivers alike, must fit seamlessly into clinician workflows, and must be implemented with strong data security measures.
The evolution of healthcare towards home-based care is inevitable, driven by the dual forces of necessity and technological advancement. By recognizing and harnessing home-based care technologies, healthcare providers can deliver more effective, personalized care while expanding their reach to more patients, regardless of their location. Future articles in this series will delve deeper into how CIOs can lead their organizations through this transformative journey and the tools needed to implement health-to-home services.
SHI Healthcare is the technology partner trusted by over 17,000 organizations to solve their infrastructure, end-user computing, cybersecurity, and IT optimization challenges. Our concierge approach blends seamless selection, delivery, and financing to simplify hard decisions for business leaders and IT procurement. The result: effective, innovative, and scalable solutions our customers love.