About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Rebekah Mullikin
Technology is essential for everyday living. It aids in communication, transportation, organization, and now healthcare, to name a few. A few years ago, the general public could not foresee technology grow so rapidly and have such an impact on day to day living. One specific field it has made a huge impact on is in-home health.
As more psychological studies are being conducted on the elderly and disabled, medical researchers are finding more and more that it is much more beneficial to keep those in need of help in their own home; going to a nursing facility should be the last resort, if the situation permits this. When an individual gets used to a setting, that is where they feel the most comfortable. Taking them out of that setting because of age, disease, or disability and placing them someplace new may have a negative effect on the situation. With these studies, it has come more apparent how essential in-home health is.
There are many different types of technology in-home health can utilize. The most common piece of technology in my area for in-home health is the lifeline button. Philips Lifeline is what my area is most familiar with. This piece of technology has truly changed and saved people’s lives living at home, especially when it comes to falls. Philips Lifeline is a button a patient can wear around their neck so it is on them at all times. If they were to fall, they have two options: to press it or not to press it. If they press it, it calls directly to central base, whether that is the in-home health office, the local hospital, or the direct company. They can then tell base that they are okay or they need help. On the other hand, if they do not push it and have fallen, the button will automatically call for help 30 seconds after if they have not gotten up.
The other major piece of technology my local in-home health provider uses is a device that can do many things and is hooked up directly with the telephone line. This is called Philips Tele-health. Tele-health allows the patient to be very independent with their health. They can check their own blood sugar, blood pressure, temperature, and respirations. This line can also be hooked up to a scale for individuals with a lot of edema and water weight fluctuation problems. All of these vitals can be taken as many times a day as is required for the patient and each time they are sent to their nurse. This allows the nurse to monitor the health of the patient without having to travel to their house every day. If the nurse sees vitals that are abnormal, they can then call the patient and assess the situation. By talking to the patient and getting information, the nurse can then decide if a visit is necessary or if they should just keep an eye on the patient’s vitals.
These technological advances make an outstanding difference in the definition of in-home health. Because of these means of communication and observing the patients, it has cut down on travel for both the patient and the nurse. If something is wrong, the nurse most likely will be able to see it through the vitals and can potentially save the patient an unnecessary visit to the clinic or hospital. On the other hand, by monitoring vitals so closely, it can deter a life-or-death situation and save the patient’s life. This new way of in-home health gives patients more independence and the feeling of still having their life for a longer period of time.
Rebekah is currently a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.