For seniors and their caregivers, health is ever at top of mind. By definition, our bodies slow down, eroding to a greater or lesser degree one’s inherent quality of life. Charged with the care of seniors whose quality of life may be failing or at risk, senior housing managers are always on the watch to help their residents lead better, fuller lives.
Telemedicine offers an increasingly meaningful aid for housing directors seeking to enhance residents’ long-term health. Broadly defined, telecare uses cutting-edge technologies to connect seniors with their caregivers. For those who must see multiple specialists, for example, or who find it inconvenient to travel, the chance to interact face-to-face with their doctors — even in a virtual setting — can greatly enhance quality of life.
The medical industry recognizes the potential. Take for instance the example of remote patient monitoring. Medical market research publisher Kaloroma Information reports U.S. spending in this arena could top $8.7 billion by 2017.
What are some of the tools of telecare?
The most commonly recognized tool of telecare is live video streaming, in which patient and provider may engage face to face to discuss emerging issues, check up on past symptoms or engage in general question-and-answer opportunities. For seniors with multiple maladies, the opportunity to do a quick check-in can make a big difference in overall quality of care.
Telecare also may refer to the sharing of medical records, an increasingly significant practice among caregivers treating seniors who may present multiple symptoms or diverse disease states. Too often in the past, doctors have been unable to easily share patient records, sometimes leading to missed opportunities or conflicting care choices. As a form of telecare, electronic records exchanges use technology to quickly and easily open up communications among multiple practitioners.
Another rapidly emerging form of telecare is the use of mobile devices and especially mobile apps to help seniors track their own health states as well as to access helpful information. The self-service nature of mobile apps takes telecare in an exciting direction for seniors who may want to gather basic information about their own medical condition, without the inconvenience of a doctor’s visit.
The key to these and other advances in telecare is technology, the connectivity to drive remote care and the infrastructure needed to sustain those connections. For senior housing providers this will typically begin with a strong base of communications technologies, complete with an infrastructure designed to make telecare simple to access and easy to understand, with direct links to telecare tools and a streamlined user interface.
Taking this a step further, as senior housing leaders come to rely on telecare as a competitive offering, they will likely want to augment their communications systems with an on-call IT expert, a support guru who may even work entirely on site, helping seniors access telecare and guiding staff through the fundamentals of telecare delivery.
With these IT basics firmly in place, housing operators will find that telecare goes a long way toward help seniors live better, fuller lives.