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Enhancing Safety in the Home: The Role of Technology


As the senior population continues to grow, so does the need to ensure the delivery of safe care in the home. While people prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own home, this does not always mean their homes are safe spaces.

There are a number of distinct characteristics of the home health care environment that influence both patient and provider safety; home care nurses work alone in the field, patients have a higher degree of independence in a home care setting, there is limited oversight, or variables that are unique to each home.

While home care tends to fall slightly outside of highly structured and standardized care models, a recent study shows that 90 percent of seniors expressed a desire to remain in their homes as long as physically possible.

With that being the case, home care practices need to be patient-centric and, above all, take into consideration the safety of patients and providers under a wide range of circumstances. Here are some of the new technologies that are being utilized to create a better environment for the patient, while increasing safety and security for each stakeholder:

Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) and GPS Tracking

GPS tracking and EVV solutions present a number of benefits when it comes to patient and provider safety and risk mitigation.

EVV gives providers the power to validate who, where and when services are delivered, while maintaining a detailed audit trail for every home care visit.

GPS tracking provides driving directions for providers travelling in remote or unfamiliar areas, as well as real time updates in the event that a worker does not arrive or leave the patient’s home as scheduled.

These tools ensure the safety and compliance of care workers by alerting coordinators that providers have successfully completed a visit, and that patients are getting the services they need, when and where they need them. 

Remote Monitoring and Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)

According to a report by Berg Insight, nearly 5 million patients were remotely monitored across the globe in 2015. Remote patient monitoring devices enable patients to keep a close eye on their daily health, whether that be fitness scores or important health vitals.

Patients can be actively engaged in their health care in the comfort of their homes, while allowing family members and providers to monitor their activity. In the case of any complications such as a fall or a potential hospital readmission, PERS and RPM will alert key stakeholders and ensure real-time notifications to take the appropriate actions.

Video Conferencing

Telehealth systems such as video conferencing effectively connect patients to their primary care physicians and care professionals from remote locations on a regular basis. This increases communication between patient and providers, allows for real-time document collaboration, reduces unnecessary travel and gives patients more timely access to care.

Should there be an alteration in a patient’s health, the provider can quickly make contact with the patient without losing face-to-face interaction, and reducing the need for emergency room visits when necessary. Should a patient’s home present potential risk to their provider, such as an aggressive pet or an infectious disease, video conferencing enables them to provide and monitor their care remotely when possible, reducing exposure to those risks.

Mobile Health

From collecting and monitoring data, to increasing connectivity and communication, mobile health technologies deliver greater transparency in order to improve the continuity of care and increase safety.

Simple mobile apps can also encourage patients to be more active in their care plans with simple reminders and alerts, and allows them to get in touch with providers with a few taps on their phone. According to HIMMS Analytics, 69% of clinicians use mobile technology to view patient information, allowing them to have greater knowledge of their patients condition and enabling them to make more timely and informed clinical decisions.

With the help of mobile risk assessment tools, care providers can effectively perform and be aware of hazard and risk assessments in real time, giving them full visibility into the level of risk for each individual visit.  All the information key stakeholders need during a visit to ensure their safety can be found in the palm of their hands. 

Big Data & Analytics

Collecting patient data and analyzing it for insights has become a powerful tool for the healthcare industry. Information gathered from remote monitoring programs and other patient data can be used to provide alerts or risk scores to clinicians when a patient’s condition is out of the ordinary or if they have experienced and event such as a fall.

AlayaCare conducted a machine learning study using clinical data gathered through remote patient monitoring (RPM), to help care workers predict events such as when a patient might fall or when they are close to a scenario that might result in hospitalization.

It was proven that with the help of machine learning, care workers were able to significantly improve event predictions, while reducing over-diagnosis by 54 percent. Introducing new technology like machine learning to home care can help support clinicians in their decision making process, and lead to improved patient outcomes.

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