The practice of medicine is always seeking improvements. From leeches to laparoscopic surgeries, the medical field is dynamic and progressive by nature. Standards of care are never stagnant, they move forward with the times.
Likewise, the delivery of care has changed. There was a time when healthcare was delivered by traveling physicians. Doctors would make house calls as required and as emergencies developed. In recent years, patients bring themselves to the doctor’s office to receive care. In neither of these scenarios are patients receiving care when it is needed most.
To move to the next level, we must provide access to care where it’s really needed. Accidents and illnesses aren’t isolated to hospitals — or patient’s homes. Care is often needed most at times when patients are out and about, living their lives. That’s why technology that can remove geographic barriers is so important. Smart networks, mobile, and cloud solutions now provide access to care without boundaries, improving patients’ outcomes and increasing efficiencies in how the care is delivered.
This access is not just a matter of where, it’s a matter of when. We can provide access to care when it’s really needed. We need to start even before patients are ill. Elderly folks who are living alone may be managing just fine, but that can change in an instant should they trip and fall. A patient may have recently been diagnosed with an illness, or they may need to transition out of care and keep in contact back with care managers.
That’s the idea of mobile health (mHealth) — providing just the right level of care to the patient at just the right time.
Here are some examples of how mHealth is breaking down these boundaries:
- Mobile Personal Emergency Response (mPERS) solution: will automatically connect people in distress to medical assistance, in their home or elsewhere. Equally important, the system should track a person’s location in real time and let neighbors or relatives know when – and where — a loved one has suffered a mishap.
- Remote Patient Monitoring: using remote patient monitoring solutions, health data can be automatically collected and alerts can be triggered when a patient needs attention or is trending toward an episode. Since the data is collected electronically, it can be stored and shared among multiple caregivers and physicians, eliminating information gaps and duplicity in reporting.
- Telehealth: using telehealth solutions, a videoconferencing solution with medical peripherals connects patients, physicians and specialists with an experience that is as close as possible to in-person care.
We’re at the tipping point in our culture now. We’re on the verge of making a needed shift to reach the next stage of healthcare delivery. This progression will improve the way healthcare is delivered, and ultimately the patient’s experience — providing access to the care and wisdom required to help us all make decisions to be healthy and well.
What do you think of the changing face of healthcare in the age of connectivity?