‘The emergence and continued advancement of telehealth is crucial’
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Bo Preising believes that technology will play a more prominent role in the lives of seniors who are aging in place, as devices and platforms become more sophisticated and users more savvy. As the chief strategy and product officer and senior vice president of engineering at Suitable Technologies, a provider of telepresence robots, Preising discussed the opportunities and challenges around home health technology that could help address the provider shortage crisis and help keep seniors healthy at home.
HHTN:What are some of the biggest recent technologies to help care for the health of seniors in their home?
PREISING:As the trend toward aging in place continues, seniors and their care providers are increasingly relying on wearables and/or telehealth applications. There are basic apps and devices to provide medication reminders and fall alerts, as well as technology to provide timely and accuratemeasurement of diagnostic markers like blood oxygen saturation or glucose levels; to assist with self-assessment; and to provide round-the-clock monitoring by care teams, or even administer doses of insulin or other drugs. In addition, a growing number of health care organizations and providers are adopting technologies that enable at-home seniors to engage in secure, real-time video conferencing from any Internet-connected device with a camera, often integrating data from EHRs or pharmacies.
HHTN:What are some of the biggest health challenges facing the baby boomer generation and how can technology be leveraged to treat them?
PREISING:Aging baby boomers will encounter both rising health care costs and declining access to care, partially due to the pressure this sizable population places on health care resources. In addition, baby boomers face increased risk of isolation due to more widely dispersed families with busier lifestyles. Placement of a state-of-the-art telepresence robot in the home can provide seniors with timely access to care at a lower cost, while significantly reducing feelings of isolation or powerlessness by facilitating more frequent and higher quality human interactions with loved ones.
HHTN:Do you think seniors are open to learning and using new health technologies?
PREISING:Seniors will use technologies that are comfortable and easy, like mobile apps with intuitive user interfaces. Assistance from children or other younger family members, who are typically more technologically savvy, can play an important role in helping seniors to embrace and master the use of novel solutions. Devices that function automatically, or that can be entirely operated by a remote care provider or family member, minimize adoption hurdles that some seniors face when learning new technology.
HHTN:How is technology impacting the way home health care is being delivered today?
PREISING:Telehealth is allowing health care providers to expand their reach and save time, while increasing patient access to care. Hospitals rely on technology to allow specialist providers to remotely monitor intensive care or surgery patients across multiple facilities, improving outcomes and cost control. Better technology in the home, such as simple video conferencing solutions, supports a variety of services ranging from the diagnosis of stroke patients who live in rural areas to behavioral health visits. Telehealth platforms also allow patients with minor complaints to optimize subsequent in-person visits or avoid them altogether, increasing convenience and timeliness for patients and, in turn, promoting the efficient use of health care resources. The emergence and continued advancement of telehealth is crucial, since the number of Americans over age 65 is growing larger than ever before, placing stresses on the supply of providers.
HHTN:Where do you see home health technology heading in the next five to 10 years?
PREISING:As the health care industry continues to shift from a fee-based to a value-based model, organizations will implement technologies that optimize patient outcomes and safety, while supporting the achievement of cost-effectiveness goals. Currently, 31% of health care organizations use video-based telehealth services, with another 44% considering their adoption. Since health care outcomes, especially in primary care, depend heavily on the effectiveness of provider communications with patients and colleagues, access to reliable, high-quality video conferencing capabilities that support comfortable interactions will be paramount. In particular, robotic telepresence solutions that incorporate mobility to provide users with genuine presence in remote environments, and even allow them to perform certain manual tasks, will gain broader adoption.