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Managing At-Home Care Plans with Wearable Technology

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We live in an age of smart devices. Between cellphones, fitness trackers and portable gaming systems, many adults and children have no less than two or even three internet-equipped devices on them at all times.

Our refrigerators and microwaves can get Wi-Fi. Our living room lights, alarms, and sound systems can be programmed from our phone. We have in-home devices that we can literally shout at to order us coffee and paper towels from Amazon.

The “internet of things”—that is, the combination of all those items in our daily lives that are connected to the web—is upon us.

So what does this mean for in-home care?

With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-equipped devices now readily available and easier to use than ever, we stand on the cusp of a new age of in-home care. High-tech solutions like Ensocare Sync and Connect provide senior care professionals with the ability to monitor a client’s condition remotely and automatically communicate with other members of the care team, including physicians. This capability wasn’t even possible just a few years ago.

Wearable tech has the potential to revolutionize the way care is provided, making it more feasible for clients to recuperate in the comfort of their own home instead of being transferred to a post-acute hospital setting. Systems like these can even push condition-specific education materials to home care professionals and family members to improve a client’s treatment compliance and quality of life.

Here’s how.

Hospital-Level Monitoring…Outside the Hospital

For the longest time, the main reason many patients remained in a post-acute hospital facility was because their vital signs and other health data needed to be monitored so that care plans could be adjusted as necessary, and you simply couldn’t do those things outside of a care facility.

But wearable tech makes it easier than ever to track this information. The client can forget he or she is wearing a medical device, and data are collected and transmitted passively to clinicians and other members of the care team. This affords the client a degree of independence that they may have thought impossible.

A United Care Team

The advent of health tracking apps also means the care team can be united like never before.

Caregivers no longer need to rely on different platforms, faxes, telephone calls and physical check-ins to relay details to one another. Wearable tech means each individual is provided with precisely the data they need to help their clients maintain good health while sticking to the care plan.

Ensocare Sync, for instance, connects all caregivers, including physicians, nurses, rehab professionals, in-home assistants, family members and the clients themselves in a single interface, and the client’s care plan is relayed to everyone on the team. Updates go through this same system, with each person able to note when benchmarks have been met, when their role needs to shift to accommodate changing circumstances or when intervention is necessary.

Instant Intervention

In the past, physicians and caregivers had to rely on a client’s assurance that he or she was adhering to the care plan. That isn’t the case with wearable tech. Health trackers facilitate a more personal interaction between clinicians and clients by allowing doctors and other healthcare professionals to check in with the client if the software sends an alert regarding a deviation from the care plan.

Did the client miss an appointment? The physician can call the client or his or her caregiver to determine what happened. Was a medication time missed? The in-home caregiver can consult with the client about why that occurred and provide assistance to help the client take all medications on time.

These interventions reduce the risk of readmission and help a client remain independent longer than may otherwise be possible.

Client Engagement

When clients have to be hospitalized, the loss of control over their health and their schedule can be detrimental to their mental well-being, which then takes a toll on physical health. Wearable tech gives clients back some of the control they’ve yearned for since being checked in to the hospital.

Using the Ensocare Connect app, clients are encouraged to track the statistics deemed vital by a physician. They can gauge blood pressure readings, track nutritional intake, monitor glucose and more, either independently or with the help of a family member or in-home caregiver.

These kinds of apps also can send the client alerts about appointments, medications, nutrition, exercise and more, which can make it easier for a client to adhere to a treatment plan. Senior clients, especially, may find care plans complex and confusing. Smart technology can help clients stay on track and communicate easily with other care team members simply by composing a message, similar to a text or email.

Patient Education

Clients who don’t understand their condition may be less likely to adhere to a treatment plan. Wearable tech can help educate clients about why they are being asked to take certain medications, eat specific foods or engage in exercise or physical therapy. Clients, family members and senior care professionals can simply read condition-specific information through the tech interface, discuss it and make sure everyone understands why adhering to the care plan is so important. Using the communication component of the apps, they also can ask questions or clarify confusing points.

A New Age of Patient Independence

Wearable tech can transform the way healthcare is administered to clients requiring post-acute care. By passively transmitting vital signs and other data, tech solutions offer clients an unprecedented degree of independence, allowing them to recover at home with many of the clinical advantages of a post-acute care hospital. Caregivers at home and at the hospital remain connected to their clients, which may mitigate deviations from the care plan and allow for better outcomes.

Wearable tech may be the next frontier of in-home care. It will be exciting to see where it leads.

Guest post by Luis Castillo, President and CEO of Ensocare

Last revised: October 6, 2017

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