The COVID-19 crisis has prompted a shift in the way medical treatment is being carried out. With the need to keep hospitals clear for incoming Coronavirus patients, as well as to control further infections, healthcare providers have had to find ways to offer care, screening and monitoring remotely. As a result, a home healthcare revolution is taking place, which is likely to continue long after the pandemic has passed. Glenmed, a distributor of healthcare technology, is following these developments closely.

The Growth of Home Healthcare

In response to the limited capacity of hospitals and the need to protect vulnerable patients, healthcare providers started monitoring patients remotely and conducting virtual visits. This has given a new impetus to implement digital health solutions on a wider scale, with telehealth projected to grow by 64% in the US this year alone. This growth will undoubtedly continue and become a major part of the ‘new normal’ of the medical industry in the post-COVID-19 era. Here are six ways that home healthcare will expand in the coming years.

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1. Screening patients prior to admission

Screening patients before being admitted to the hospital gives healthcare professionals the ability to safeguard critical care capacity and prevent unnecessary visits. Patients first fill in an online questionnaire which helps caregivers to assign patients to a risk class and then plan the appropriate action. Patients with a high-risk score are contacted by a call centre for more information before referring them to a GP or hospital. This helps to keep both patients and staff safe. In addition to telephone contact, the use of wearable health monitoring devices for remote tracking of patients’ conditions will also become commonplace.

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2. Monitoring Patients After Discharge

Remote monitoring of patients after they have been discharged from hospital is also increasingly popular among doctors and nurses. Wearable sensors will increasingly be used to keep an eye on patients after they leave the hospital. Also, patients will be able to report on their condition through online questionnaires and chatbots.

3. Management of Chronic Illness

In much the same way as post-discharge care will be carried out, patients who are diagnosed with chronic illnesses will be able to track and report on their condition through a combination of telehealth and wearable technology. This will be a handy tool in the treatment of patients with conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. It will allow for more accurate and timely tracking of patients’ health, as well as a reduction in costs since people will be able to cut down on their GP and hospital visits.

4. Aiding Senior Living

Home elderly care is evolving particularly rapidly, as the need to ensure the safety of vulnerable seniors, who often live alone, has been a pressing one for a long time. Predictive analytics will prove useful in this regard. These tools gather data from various sources to alert healthcare workers if they are dealing with a senior who is particularly prone to a fall or other injury sometime within the next 30 days. Caregivers can then prioritise these patients and reach out to them regularly.

5. Remote Prenatal Care

Remote monitoring can help in the care of mothers-to-be who have specific health needs or risks. Maternity clinics and hospitals will be able to monitor patients’ blood pressure, weight and other vital signs, allowing for the effective management of pregnancy-associated risks and complications.

6. Improving Access to Health Services

Home healthcare technology is not intended only for the treatment of people with specific needs and risks. Its ultimate aim is to support health and wellbeing in general. Technology that tracks all kinds of health variables, from vital signs to oral hygiene, can be embedded in the home and used for the benefit of both patients and caregivers. People will be able to keep an accurate track on their own health and know precisely when to contact a caregiver. Health care workers can use these tools to manage workload and resources, keep patients safe and prioritise services according to specific levels of need.

Glenmed is Your Partner in Medical Innovation

Glenmed is a licensed distributor of Philips Healthcare and several other leading medical technology brands. Contact us for more information.

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