We're all trained to look for "best practices." If there is a best or better way to do something, we want to know what it is. Many times, though, the excellence of medical care depends on the patient and the context.
The field of Long Term Care is no different. Sometimes an assisted living facility works just right. Sometimes aging in place is the ultimate. Sometimes it's senior co-housing. What works best in Long Term Care is for each patient to have access to the kind of care that works best for him or her. People want and need different things.
That said, one trend is for senior care to be as personalized as possible, as intimate as possible, as small-scale as possible, and as aligned with the individual's life as possible. That's why we see so much caregiving happening in different, patchworked contexts.
That's also why we see this trend that the New York Times recently covered, of small residences that still have the medical and caregiving resources that many older people need. It's a balance of medical help that can only come from an institutional setting, with the human need for more individualized settings. For instance, Our Family Home is a small, home-style setting for groups of patients with Alzheimer's or dementia. And The Green House Project is a network of homes that are created to support patients' needs while also feeling like an individual house.
There are some important challenges with these models, though. Because the settings are more dispersed, for specialized care to be happen, patients will often have to travel to a doctor's office or a hospital. Or, the specialist will need to travel to multiple facilities to complete the rounds.
So what's the answer, when decentralized models are great but there are geographical challenges with access to care? Well, it's a pretty simple answer, actually. We believe that telemedicine platforms can allow less centralized, more intimate, more personalized housing solutions to be viable. By allowing healthcare collaboration across the continuum of care to occur -- on the schedule and in the location of the people involved -- these models become a lot more practical, even in complex medical situations.
These are 3 key ways telemedicine supports seniors in getting the Long Term Care that works best for them, even in decentralized models:
- Telemedicine makes it so more people can be involved in care, while not interrupting "compassionate continuity."
It is best for people to have continuity in the people who care for them. However, the complexity of many patient's conditions require nurses, aides, specialists, other specialists, and therapists to collaborate on a single case. A platform like iClickCare allows these people to contribute while also allowing the trusted aide to be the primary person in the patient's life.
- Using photo and video for healthcare collaboration is key in Long Term Care.
A good telemedicine platform makes using photos and videos more practical -- and HIPAA safe.
- Healthcare collaboration -- at a distance -- makes homecare more financially sustainable.
If specialists have to make increasing numbers of house calls, because there is insufficient technology to allow collaboration at a distance, homecare becomes less viable. If these trends continue, we'll need to find ways for the people providing the home care to be supported by other medical providers, in efficient and effective ways.
If you're part of changing how Long Term Care happens, we want to help. You can download our free ebook on transforming Long Term Care here:
Photo used under Creative Commons rights from fairfaxcounty on Flickr.