In the first two parts of this series, we heard from NAHC president Bill Dombi and Simione Healthcare Consultant managing principle Bill Simione. Both experts discussed their takes on how upcoming industry trends and changes such as workforce shortages and regulations will affect home health and hospice organizations in the next one, three and five years.
In today’s post, we’ll hear from Phil Bongiorno, the executive director of Home Care Association of America (HCAOA). Bongiorno will continue the theme of the series by discussing how in-home technology and innovations can benefit the homecare and hospice industry now and in the future.
From the recent Consumer Electronics Show, a place where companies have the opportunity roll out their newest technologies for consumers, the latest innovations in technology have created amazing new possibilities for how we execute simple tasks throughout our daily lives. While these devices can make day-to-day life more convenient for everyone, they can be particularly useful within the senior care community.
In-home technologies, like voice activated products including Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, are already being utilized within the home care industry. These products are not only seen as a way to assist seniors themselves but are also being considered as a potential tool for caregivers to utilize in fulfilling their duties. Some home care providers have conducted experiments, exploring the ways these technologies could be of assistance in fulfilling the everyday responsibilities of a caregiver. From medication reminders, to the ability to place calls or control functions within the house with a mere voice command – these devices have the potential to help caregivers provide an even higher quality of care to their clients.
Technology has not only produced new ways to protect seniors, but it has also allowed us to improve upon already existing practices. Fall detection is one effort that has benefitted from recent technological advances. In the past, wearable fall detection devices would be equipped with a button that must be pushed in order to alert someone of a fall. Today’s wearable devices can automatically detect a falling incident. In addition, when a fall has been detected, many devices offer the option to send immediately text messages and/or emails to that person’s designated emergency contacts. Other features include the option to send the fallen individual’s GPS location to their emergency contacts. According to the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. New technology in fall detection may not only assist seniors by ensuring they receive assistance as soon as possible after a fall, but it may also reduce their time in the hospital and/or the cost of medical services.
As we face a shortfall in projected needed caregivers, the home care industry is looking very closely at the added value benefit that these technologies provide in the delivery of home care services. One important concept to keep in mind is that regardless of how advanced these assistive devices may become, technology cannot easily replace the attention and companionship of a caregiver. Alexa may successfully remind one to take medication, but in cases where a senior is unable to do so on their own, a caregiver is still needed to make sure that medication is administered properly. Nonetheless, technology is making it easier for seniors to feel safer and more comfortable as they age at home, in addition to providing greater peace of mind to their loved ones.
Check back next time to hear from Mark Kulik, the managing director of The Braff Group.
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