Telemedicine is often associated with very remote areas, access to super-specialized providers, or cutting-edge technology. However, some of the most heart-wrenching and interesting uses of telemedicine have been with ordinary people in ordinary circumstances.
In particular, I've seen how telemedicine can make Assisted Living Communities more efficient and more resident or person-centered.
Assisted Living is often part of a transition from full independence to full support: a person finds a midpoint between living at home and skilled nursing care. Of course, the lines are blurry -- home care, independent living, assisted living, and full support care like memory care or skilled nursing. What all of these care services have in common, though, is the prioritization of excellent care and the maintenance of a patient's lifestyle and independence.
Traditionally telemedicine has served Assisted Living by technological replacement of human visits and by home monitoring. Significant gains in health have been documented by monitoring weight, medication adherence, blood pressure and activity. Medical collaboration tools like iClickCare bring another level of support. Tools like these can have a significant impact on senior care by enabling simple, secure care coordination and collaboration with the family, the resident (often a senior), and their caregivers and providers. HIPAA compliance is a given.
The creativity and commitment of Assisted Living providers is astounding -- and for that reason, they are innovating evermore ways of using telemedicine in their practice.
Here are just a few of the ways that Assisted Living Communities use telemedicine to improve care and decrease costs and hassle:
- Measuring key patient indicators like weight or blood pressure without the resident having to leave their home
- Efficient, remote collaboration with team members, specialists or key providers from nearby hospitals or practices
- Aides and nurses, even family members, for more background history and also private pictures or video clips
- Decrease in ER and OR visits due to surgeons and other providers evaluating remotely whether a procedure is required
- Several kinds of provider "touch points" on a single case, since geriatric issues often involve more than one specialty