It was just four years ago that my father was diagnosed with dementia.
For my family, it was sudden. While it had most likely been going on for a while, my father’s rapid symptoms seemed to appear overnight for us. It became very clear very soon that my mother wasn’t going to be able to take care of him on her own.
My parents moved in with my husband and me and we hoped that together we would be able to take care of my father as his disease progressed. We knew nothing about telehealth and the options it might have afforded us then — we were feeling our way in the dark.
My father ended up spending his last years in a nursing home. It was a wonderful nursing home and they took amazing care of him, but it wasn’t home, with his family, where he wanted to be. Now that I am working here at Home Health Technology News and am immersed in all of the devices, services and news about telehealth, I can’t help but wonder if things might have been different for our family if we had been able to take parts of my father’s care into our own hands, with the help of technology.
Telehealth is a booming industry. In fact, experts say the market will grow to $2.8 billion by 2022, and 78.5 million people will use home health technology by 2020 . It’s clear that consumers want to make their health care self-directed as much as possible, and medical providers are increasingly using remote communications and monitoring technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of care. The majority of states in the U.S. now have telemedicine parity laws, ensuring that insurance payers cover and reimburse telemedicine services the same way they would services delivered in person.
I think about how the world of healthcare is changing. Families faced with taking care of aging parents can most certainly benefit from telehealth today. If things continue to grow they way they are now, my children’s children will probably have their annual check-up with a pediatrician through videoconference, or some other technology that hasn’t even been imagined yet.
I’ve learned so far that technology developers must keep the end user in mind when developing a new product. If they can do that, the future of telehealth is wide open.