Will Telemedicine Change the Home Healthcare Industry?

Last month Cox Communications and non-profit medical center Cleveland Clinic announced plans to collaborate on a new project called Vivre Health, in what many are calling a groundbreaking strategic alliance to bring healthcare to the homes of millions of Americans through innovative technology and home health solutions. While the adoption of telemedicine has been relatively slow in recent years, many industry members feel that the availability of these technologies are reshaping the healthcare landscape. Furthermore, there has been growing interest from consumers in technologies that will help them better facilitate their own healthcare needs.

One study conducted by professional consulting group Accenture indicates that two thirds of the growing elderly population desire access to healthcare services at home, and many are looking to technology for the answers. The survey found that while 67 percent of elderly respondents said they wanted access to health services in their homes, and 66 percent reported that they preferred to use self-care technology to manage their own health. However, 66 percent of the same respondents report concerns that medical technology is not yet ready to offer full home healthcare care. Only 20 percent of respondents showed interest in virtual consultations.

On the other hand, younger generations seem to be more demanding and more trusting of telemedical practices. A recent study conducted by by Software Advice, a consumer resource for technology and software buyers indicated that while 73 percent of surveyed patients had never participated in a medical consultation, 75 percent of those patients are at least “moderately interested” in telemedical practices.

So how will new healthcare technology reshape the home healthcare industry?

In general, telemedicine technology is most helpful and efficient when utilized for simple, straight forward, or instructional care. This can include physician or nurse consultations as well as monitoring and maintaining patients’ conditions. From wearable electronic vital monitoring systems to more complex technologies and alert systems, it seems that consumers of all ages increasingly comfortable with some of these new technologies. However, telemedical care is not right in all situations. Much of the service home healthcare providers offer is hands on care for individuals who need extra assistance managing their condition. As such, it is hard to predict the extent to which home healthcare providers and patients will be able to utilize these oncoming technologies.

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