More than 4.9 million people, including seniors, required home health care services in the U.S. in 2013the most recent year for which data are available, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meanwhile, more than 1.4 million people required nursing home care across the nation’s 1.7 million licensed beds. However, the true number of senior in need of care may be as high as 55 million, reports Forbes magazine.
Taken together, these statistics indicate that the existing resources for senior care are quickly being stretched. Thus, senior care facilities and senior caregivers must find other ways to improve treatment outcomes and manage overall workload. Mobile technology offers one solution, with the potential to dramatically change how society approaches senior care. But first, you need to understand a few things about its use.
The Benefits of Mobile Technology in Senior Care
Mobile technology is already being leveraged in nursing to help provide better quality and standard of care, reports Samsung. Ultimately, mobile technology helps staff members and caregivers tend to the needs of those in their care more efficiently and effectively.
Mobile technology is also expanding. Current applications of mobile technology in senior care include the use of smartphones, tablets and wearable health devices.
Benefits and opportunities include:
- Access to real-time data on the state of health of seniors. While at the most basic level, this application of mobile technology can simply remove the need for a dedicated workstation to access patient information, newer apps, go even further. For example, one such app, VitalSnap, enables patients to use their smartphone to capture information from their wearable health devices and transfer it to their healthcare facilities or organizations.
- Improved communication. Communication is one of the most important ways mobile technology is impacting senior care. One company, Hometeam, uses in-home mobile technology to encourage interaction between patients and family members as well as to facilitate caregiver communication about a patient’s care with loved ones via mobile updates.
- Person-centered care. Mobile technology can help seniors understand more about their treatment plans and what proactive measures to take to prevent future readmissions. For example, the Hometeam app asks caregivers to keep track of, and, ultimately, incorporate the activities their patients prefer into their daily care plans.
- Enhanced caregiver skillsets. Mobile learning and technologies help staff members stay on top of the latest improvements, recommendations and best practices in the field, promoting a more cohesive and educated care environment. Pro on the GoTM, one of the latest product innovations here at Relias, delivers brief, targeted training wherever and whenever needed. Another Relias feature, BrainSparksTM, focuses on aiding in the retention of newly-learned information and skills post-training by delivering memory boosters via a caregiver’s mobile device.
What’s Behind the Transition to Mobile Technology in Senior Care?
While new technology can sometimes be adopted simply because it’s the “latest thing” or “what everyone is doing,” senior care facilities are, by necessity, more pragmatic. The focus is on improving care outcomes while keeping costs in check. Mobile technology is well-suited to these goals. In healthcare, and specifically in senior care, mobile technology lends itself to the gathering and sharing of information which can then be leveraged to enhance care planning and optimize caregiver training. This leads to expanded caregiver capacity and capability, and ultimately, reduced cost.
Nowhere is this opportunity more noticeable than in caregiver training. In an article by Prashant George, an analyst at 42Gears Mobility Systems Private Limited, caregivers can streamline their workload, including completing necessary training modules, from one device. This information can also be combined to enhance the overall effectiveness of the caregiver. An added benefit is a reduction of costs associated with training. Ultimately, better trained caregivers result in better care of seniors.
Yet, mobile technology does have some specific implications regarding privacy and adherence to the HIPAA standards. All apps and forms of mobile technology used in providing care must adhere to the stringent requirements for maintaining security of protected health information (PHI), however if personal devices are only used for training independent of a senior’s PHI, HIPAA standards may not apply.
Putting It All Together
Mobile technology is changing how the world operates and the effects can be seen throughout the healthcare industry. By understanding its benefits, driving forces and impact on caregivers, you can be better prepared to begin the process of integrating mobile technology into your organization, enabling you to provide a better standard of care to seniors.
Looking for more? Read the whitepaper, “Leveraging Mobile Learning for Employee Engagement and Performance”