What’s New in Home Health Care Technology

May 12, 2016

Technology is playing a central role in the expansion of the home health care and hospice industry – from Internet-enabled home monitors and apps for mobile health to telemedicine – all designed to bring varying aspects of advanced care into patients’ homes and to empower providers to better serve their patients. Manchester Specialty Programs, a provider of totally integrated business insurance solutions for the broad spectrum of home health care, hospice and medical staffing organizations, took a look at some of the advanced technology that is both transforming the industry and providing more seniors with the ability to age in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.

  • Connecting health care providers: A new platform, PatientPing, allows facilities to share a patient’s location, receive care team contacts, and access critical guidelines to keep care coordinated. It enables care providers, coordinators, primary care physicians, and the entire care team that is part of a network of health care facilities to receive real-time notifications whenever and wherever their patients receive care. For example, let’s say a home health care patient is taken to the hospital due to an emergency. The hospital can “ping” the home health care provider in real time with a report that includes contact information, helpful instructions from the care team, and patient visit history. The messages are automatically sent via a web application like Gmail, telling the providers which patient it is, what facility he or she is in, what time he or she arrived, and when the patient was last admitted or discharged. The idea is that by sharing this information when it is needed, providers will seamlessly coordinate their patient’s care. The plan is to route the messages to mobile phones, and to integrate the app with all different kinds of systems.

Another new care management platform for health care providers, HomeHero Collaborative, connects and extends the health system into the home. The platform leverages technology and in-home visits to collect critical patient health data, and then uses an analytics engine to refer patients to the appropriate care provider within the network, helping to predict and prevent or reduce the frequency of hospitalizations.

  • Home safety evaluations: As we discussed in a previous article, home safety assessments are a critical tool for home health care providers. Silver Spaces is a mobile app that allows health care professionals, families and others to use a room-by-room room checklist, both interior bedrooms and exterior spaces, to define what changes could be made to make the home more resident-friendly and safer. You can upload photos and notes all while performing the evaluation. In addition, there is a rationale provided for each question so the user knows why that question is important. The app includes a downloadable, detailed functional assessment that assists in identifying any physical, financial, transportation, mobility or other issue the resident may have that could impact the decision to remain in the home.
  • Remote patient monitoring: There are sensors available that can be placed around the home as well as on patients (via a smartwatch) to alert caregivers if a senior misses a meal, doesn’t get out of bed, or falls. For example, some Alzheimer’s patients are able to remain at home under a program that monitors their movements via sensors and smartphone apps, and alerts their nearby caretakers in the event of risky behavior – such as leaving the house, forgetting to eat, or leaving water running too long.
  • Tracking technology: GPS technology allows families, health care workers and even law enforcement to locate seniors away from home in case of an emergency. One product, Philips Lifeline GoSafe, even allows response center workers to find seniors in need of assistance even in areas where GPS might not be available, such as indoors or in a parking garage. The technology also senses if users fall, and automatically calls for assistance in case the wearer is incapacitated.
  • Medication reminders: There are reminder apps that allow home health care providers to notify seniors about medications or appointments.
  • Personalized and connected care: RespondWell is a tele-rehabilitation company whose focus is on improving quality of life by facilitating rehabilitation with an innovation solution that’s used in the convenience of the home. The online platform allows seniors to recuperate from surgeries due to falls by enjoying an adaptive experience that instructs, encourages and monitors progress to help track and accelerate rehabilitation. It also allows caregivers and physicians to remotely monitor patient progress.

These technologies represent only a handful of the advances taking place to facilitate the services provided by the health care industry and to help increasingly more individuals age at home. With all of these technologies, of course, one crucial issue to note is the security and privacy of the patient data collected. Along with the benefits that technology affords us comes increased risks and vulnerabilities. Manchester Specialty Programs offers a portfolio of insurance coverages to the home health care industry, including Cyber Liability insurance in the event of a data breach. For more information about our home health care business insurance solutions, you or your local agent/broker can contact us at 855.972.9399.