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New Models of Assisted Living May Leverage Telehealth

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Jun 03, 2014 @ 01:30 AM

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In recent decades, there have only been a few options for older Americans. Either you lived with family, you went to a "nursing home", or you were lucky enough to enjoy perfect health until the end of your life. Of course, these options are inappropriate for many people. And as baby boomers advance in age, there is a burgeoning population of people demanding new options. Many of these new options many need the support of telehealth and telemedicine to make them sustainable. 

One reason for this focus on different options, that there is greater appreciation for, is the many nuances in what people need and want as they age. At the most basic level, the simplistic categories of "disabled" or "independent" are proving to be useless. Many people desire a lot of independence -- and are capable of it -- but just need some assistance. Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, says: It’s extremely important for us as a society to understand that getting older and losing some degree of functioning does not have to be equated with the loss of independence."

Another factor in older Americans searching for, and creating, other options is an increased valuing of a productive, engaged, intellectual older age. For instance, some communities are creating intergenerational university programs that offer a unique level of education, interaction, and shared responsibilty. Other programs focus on constituents that want to continue to work or stay active in other significant ways and are built in diverse, thriving communities. And there is increasing recognition of people who are choosing to prepare for future decades, even at a relatively young age.

Finally, some seniors are focusing on "aging in place." Whether through a community of people who happen to be getting older at the same time -- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) -- or through coordinated efforts like "senior cohousing", there is an increased focus on lifestyle, independence, and community. As a son of one of the citizens of this NORC said, however, "Watching this little community cope with shopping and banking and constant medical visits, I have wondered why services can’t be brought to these residents. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have a nurse visit weekly, instead of each person making a laborious trip to a doctor’s office?"

Indeed, many who are innovating new ways to age in their homes and communities are finding telehealth, telemedicine, and e-health to be the crucial keystone that holds it all together. 

Many initiatives focus on the non-health aspects of a community, like intellectual stimulation. However, the reality of life after 65 is that health issues arise, and they often arise without warning. Telehealth and telemedicine can make it so that the medical aspects are more easily addressed, without a lot of interruption to the senior's life. The NYTimes, for instance, lists these advantages to e-health for people over 65Telemedicine can extend the viability of aging in place initiatives because the help that is accessible -- aides and nurses -- can be extended through remote consultations. Telehealth monitoring further extends it by allowing people to recuperate at home, who normally would need to have gone to a Rehabilitation Facility for further monitoring. 

How are you integrating telemedicine and telehealth into your assisted living community, NORC, senior cohousing, or other community? How do you find that the continuum of care is better served by being able to do medical collaboration and care coordination? We'd love to hear, in the comments below. 

And if Hybrid Store and Forward is one telemedicine option you're considering, feel free to download our free overview, below: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward


Image courtesy of fairfaxcounty on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, telehealth, assisted living communities, care coordination, assisted living, senior care

Can Telemedicine Support Medical Collaboration in Long Term Care?

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 08:31 AM

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There may be specialties that have more fanfare or higher profiles. But Long Term Care is unique, fundamentally important, and complex for two reasons. First, it is the only speciality in medicine that affects every person -- both as a family member and as a care recipient -- at some point in their lives. Second, it invariably involves many collaborators, at all points in the continuum of care, and needs the focused collaboration of the family.

For instance, even in the simplest of long term care cases, all of the following people, and more, will likely need to be involved:

  • Physician Assistant
  • Nurse
  • Home care aide or other caregiver
  • Cardiologist
  • Physician
  • Therapists
  • Wound Care Nurse
  • Family

Managing, coordinating, and supporting these Interdisciplinary Teams can be time-consuming, risky, and difficult. Communication is great, but the more people that get involved, the more risk there is that something could fall through the cracks. Many teams actually choose to limit the number and type of people that collaborate on a given case. This is not an ideal solution, however.

Effective collaboration among every provider on the continuum of care is really the only way to ensure the best results for the patient.

Increasingly, the Long Term Care community is acknowledging this complexity and emphasizing the use of Interdisciplinary Teams (IDT) as a means to support the best patient centered care. And when it comes to Medicare reimbursement and submitting correct MDS data, an interdisciplinary approach is not just "nice to have" -- it is absolutely essential.

So how does a team providing Long Term Care coordinate and collaborate without letting any balls get dropped? We know it's not easy, so we recommend using tools to help make this kind of medical collaboration effortless. We know, we know -- technology can sometimes make our lives more difficult. But deciphering stacks of handwritten notes and playing phone tag is not effortless. That's why we created iClickCare -- we knew most teams need an effortless, easy-to-use way to collaborate that works with, not against, the flow of their lives and work.

In a long term care setting, using a telemedicine tool for medical collaboration can help you:

  • Communicate efficiently and quickly to make better informed decisions
  • Create, share, and implement care plans.
  • Quickly send notes, photos and video clips to others and get efficient consults.
  • Include the family in care decisions in meaningful ways.
  • Avoid unnecessary doctor's visits and care delays.

If you'd like to hear stories of how people across the medical community and beyond are using medical collaboration, get our guide here:

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Image courtesy of moregoodfoundation on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, coordinated care, communication with patients, patient satisfaction, care coordination, assisted living, senior care

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