IN-HOME CARE: IMPROVING CARE OUTCOMES IN OPTIMAL SETTINGS
Determining which care setting is most appropriate includes taking into account the overall well-being of patients. Home is a more comfortable, familiar setting, for starters. Also, patients aren’t exposed to dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections that may be found in hospitals. While patients with chronic conditions need regular care, that care can often be delivered at home by nurses and other healthcare professionals who coordinate with the patient’s doctor potentially using m-heath or e-health tools. Regular, reliable home care ensures changes in their condition can be caught early on and their treatment can be quickly adjusted. The result: better-managed conditions and fewer hospitalisations.
Caring for patients in the most optimal setting can also help control costs by freeing up hospital resources for acute patients.
New technologies have the potential to revolutionise in-home care. Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and other patient monitoring devices allow care providers and patients to benefit from a wide range of applications. Mobile health tools can collect and monitor patients’ health data, which can then be analysed by medical providers who advise on prevention or treatment. From fitness trackers that automatically collect data to specialised apps that connect patients and doctors, allowing them to communicate outside of regularly scheduled in-person appointments, new technologies are changing the care landscape.
In France, for example, the m-health tool “Carmelia” allows patients with chronic intestinal inflammation to collect, track and share their symptoms with their doctors using their smartphone or tablet. Doctors can then access the data to analyse and better treat disease flare-ups, which helps keep patients out of the emergency room and frees up hospital beds.
By supporting the exchange of information in real-time, new technologies can help patients stay healthier, longer, keeping them at home rather than in hospital beds. And using mobile health technologies has the potential to save an estimated €99 billion in the EU by 2017 and add 93 billion euros to the GDP of the EU.
European Commission Green Paper on Mobile Health, 2014
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.