How IT is Enabling Healthcare Delivery at Home

Dr. Gaurav ThukralExecutive VP & COOHealthCare at HOMEHeadquartered in Noida, HealthCare at HOME is one of India’s pioneer home healthcare services company specializing in setting-up ICUs at HOME, providing Cancer treatment at home, home nursing, and physiotherapy, along with a wide array of clinical procedures at the comfort of the patient’s home.

Technology is at the heart of every home based medical care service. The main objectives of homecare are to allow patients to recover in an environment they are most comfortable in, reduce burden on hospital resources, improve perceived patient satisfaction and bring down the cost of healthcare expenditure, all of which are made possible due to innovations in information technology (IT).

Technology in Home Healthcare

Development in healthcare technology like telemedicine, home monitoring devices and software, cloud-based medical data and mobile apps and their efficient implementation by homecare service providers have proved to be game changers in many ways. Empowerment of patients from passive care receivers to active decision makers by providing them with self-management tools is one of them. Remote monitoring tools can include fitness bands that record the patients’ diet, sleep and exercise patterns. These tools allow patients to keep track of their own personal health without having to visit a doctor which can be expensive, time-consuming and in the case of the elderly, can even further compromise their health. This is true especially for those suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes.

The further evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) is going augment the homecare business model even further. IoT basically involves connecting any device to the Internet and allowing exchange of data across them. Within the homecare sector, IoT can provide assistance with day-to-day health monitoring with advanced devices such as the one that immediately alerts the care provider when a patient forgets to take their medicine. On the other hand, IoT is also being developed to perform more complex actions like eye lenses that could measure glucose levels of diabetes patients via their tears and then store the information in a mobile device.

IT has helped patients and caregivers at home to upload data easily through secure platforms to the Cloud. This electronic data thus becomes a permanent personal health record which can be accessed at any time and from anywhere whenever required. Innovations like remote sensors ensure that a patient’s health is under scrutiny 24x7 at home as opposed to traditional methods where only a hospital visit provided an opportunity for examination. With the help of the high-end platforms, homecare providers ensure that every minute detail is shared with the consulting doctor. Such advanced data provides a much more comprehensive insight into a patient’s medical condition allowing care providers to design more personalized treatments for each individual patient.
Improved Patient Experience

Sophisticated technology has thus improved the care provider-patient relationship through continuous back-hand support by IT professionals. Healthcare delivery at home is made possible by this steady flow of information between the patient’s home where care is being delivered according to the consulting doctor’s suggested treatment. Home visit reports (HVR) and daily activities are shared with the doctor multiple times a day for remote monitoring and support so that whenever necessary, he or she can intervene in the treatment process. E-monitoring solutions include live streaming of patient’s condition to the doctor, daily medical round system and on-demand tele-consultation. Live video interaction using audiovisual telecommunications technology for consultation, diagnosis and treatment is becoming increasingly common. This real-time communication dispenses off with in-person interaction providing patients with independence, convenience and flexibility while relieving burden on doctors and hospital infrastructure. Technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being developed to make homecare services even more competent. Virtual nurses use AI to assess a patient’s symptoms and deliver alerts to clinicians while considerably reducing hospital visits.

Use of telemedicine, remote monitoring and continuous check on all ICU at home patients through a central command allows high level 24x7 patient monitoring and care

ICU at Home

Today, home healthcare providers are able to impart such intricate facilities like ICU at home and home chemotherapy at a much lesser cost than hospitals. For patients with debilitating diseases who find constant hospital visits increasingly demanding ICU at home is the most convenient provision. It enables them to recover in a comfortable environment while their family members are also put at ease. Equipment like monitors, bi-pap machine, portable diagnostic machines, defibrillator and oxygen concentrator are all put in place inside the patient’s home. Use of telemedicine, remote monitoring and continuous check on all ICU at home patients through a central command allows high level 24X7 patient monitoring and care.

Is Technology Easy to Adopt

Questions have sometimes been raised about whether patients, especially the elderly, can effectively adopt technology provided by homecare. The answer is yes. According to market research firm, Tractica, global consumers utilizing home health technologies will reach 78.5 million by 2020. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a study in 2015 which states that people are adopting medical technologies as quickly as they are being developed. The FDA study mentions that by 2018, 50 per cent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will have downloaded mobile health applications. These users include health care professionals, consumers, and patients.

Technology, therefore, plays a central role in every realm of homecare. It creates the fundamental link for facilitating communication, helps in conducting treatment in a methodical manner and improves collaboration between care providers and care receivers. With this sector growing in volume and importance, a significant amount will be spent in research and development to further innovate existing technologies, ensuring that the future of homecare is only set to get more revolutionary.