By Greg Porell
Dedham – Continued automation of the South Shore services economy will change health care delivery, as providers look for ways to remain financially viable while providing high-quality health care.
Maybe you have found yourself using a computer tablet or other electronic device to answer questions and provide information on your last doctor’s visit.
With the ongoing consolidation of physician practices, hospitals and local medical centers, providers are capturing information in a more complete and organized approach. This information, or “Big Data” is a collection of patient history, services provided, any new or emerging health concerns across their network, and perhaps most importantly, the location where care is being provided.
This big data can then be compared across the provider network and determine what is working and what needs to be addressed to ensure all parts of the care network are performing. This data helps providers prepare a forecast on what types of services will be needed and what is the most cost effective way to deliver it.
Some fear this big data collection may be used to ration care. With more insured people, providers are finding their systems stretched to capacity, facing resource and staffing issues.
These organizational issues are in a part a result of the lowered reimbursement rates the providers receive for some services, while taking on new responsibilities to show their patients’ improvement.
A recent Pew Research Study found that 31% of all seniors (65 and older) are on Facebook. Thirty-one percent of baby boomers and 25% of 65 and older seniors report getting their news on a mobile device, including smart phones and tablets.
This adoption of technology and new ways of receiving information will allow the increased integration of technology in the delivery of health care. Seniors are becoming more familiar with the technology and will be more open to receiving medical care, like a visit with a primary care physician on an electronic device, instead of at the doctor’s office.
Technology will be used to improve services across a patient’s entire care plan, from the home to the skilled nursing center. And its adoption will be critical, as the recent Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey finds that “At least 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some form of long term care services and support during their lives.”
Technology is already having a positive impact on the aging brain. According to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona which spent four years tracking almost 2,000 people over 70 years of age found that just “Logging on ‘could reduce dementia risk.”
The study found that those over 70 years of age who use a computer once a week “are 42% less likely to develop mild memory impairment.”
And has been the case for several years now, the importance of home care services will grow. More services will be delivered in the home, in more cost effective ways, by integrating emerging technology into the care plan.
Perhaps the most significant development in home care is the emergence of the residence monitoring system. An installation of cameras and sensors located in the home are designed to enhance the safety of remaining in the home, alerting loved ones of potential problems. Alerts can be immediately sent to an adult child’s smart phone and local safety officers, providing a faster response time to an emergency.
The continued development of Telemedicine and home monitoring systems will allow people to remain in their home for a longer period of time more safely. Telemedicine increases communication between provider and the home resident patient. More frequent monitoring of the patient’s vital signs can be obtained at a lower cost.
A recent Supreme Court ruling mandated an increase in the minimum wage for caregivers working in the home. Families hiring these professionals must now maintain records to show they are fulfilling the pay requirements.
Technology will help manage this time tracking responsibility for both the providing agency and the family purchasing the services. Agencies are creating client accounts on line which allows loved ones to monitor the care provided, hours served and any issues of concern that arise.
The home will also come alive in new ways for seniors. Technology will provide home bound seniors with new ways to reduce isolation. Communication with loved ones will be even easier. Options for on line continuing education will entertain.
Need A Ride?
As far as arranging transportation to that next doctor’s visit because you’re not driving anymore, no problem. Just book a ride through your smart phone with the driverless Google car service.