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Mobile health monitoring and telemedicine aiding seniors

Telehealth technologies alert healthcare professionals if a loved one needs assistance.

What is mobile health monitoring and telemedicine?

Americans as a whole are getting older and living longer. According to the US Census Bureau, 47.8 million people over the age of 65 account for 14.5% of the total U.S. population in 2015. By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that number will be 98.2 million seniors. And according to the Administration of Aging, people reaching the age of 65 now have an increased life expectancy of 18.8 additional years. With that increased longevity comes many new health challenges, including hypertension, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and diabetes. And with new challenges, increased health cost.

Older woman looking at a monitoring device

A recent study found that 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital will be readmitted within 30 days due to a lack of transparency and understanding around care transitions between facilities/providers. To help with this problem, Medicare penalizes hospitals if a senior is readmitted within 30 days of being discharged, which has led to health care providers utilizing mobile health monitoring devices to help improve patient care and lower hospital readmissions.

Telemedicine refers to the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other. Physicians and patients can share information in real time from one computer screen to another. And they can even see and capture readings from medical devices at a faraway location. Using telemedicine, patients can see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment without having to wait for an appointment. Patients can even consult a physician in the comfort of their own home, which can be especially valuable when it’s inconvenient or difficult to travel to a provider. In this way, telemedicine is lowering out of pocket costs and improving access to care.

Some major benefits of telemedicine:

  • Allows easier access to specialists for consultations
  • Fosters patient engagement with staff
  • Reduced costs of healthcare
  • Better access for patient care, delivered more conveniently
  • Improved quality of patient care
  • Follow-ups that don’t require an in-office appointment, saving patients and doctors time

Using camera-equipped audio/visual cart, nurses and patients can video chat with clinicians to receive the consultation they need without requiring an in-person visit. According to an article in Forbes, telemedicine can also save nursing facilities $1 million annually in cost avoidance. In addition, a survey by BusinessWire reported Eighteen percent of consumers surveyed said they had used telemedicine, with 62% of them rating their experience 8 or higher on a 10 point scale.

Mobile health monitoring

Thanks to inexpensive technology available to the masses, such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones with video conferencing capability, data can be more easily shared with health care providers. Telemetry data from clinics is routinely sent from patient rooms to monitoring stations where nurses can see what’s happening to everyone at once. Each year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hundreds of booths are dedicated to new or emerging telehealth and mHealth technologies. These mobile devices are especially attractive to hospitals, clinics, doctors, and other health care providers, because of the potential to provide better off-site, up-to-the-minute patient data, which can help catch health problems early and keep seniors out of the emergency room.

Some of the mobile apps for seniors that are currently available include:

  • Diabetes monitors. New apps track food consumption and medication use, which can affect blood glucose levels. Other apps send alarm-based medication reminders and connect diabetics to online interactive forums.
  • GPS trackers. These GPS apps can help family and caregivers locate seniors with early-stage Alzheimer's disease or diabetics with low-blood-sugar levels who might get confused and wander off.
  • Medication trackers. This type of app keeps track of prescriptions, so each medication is taken at its scheduled time.
  • Pain monitors. Patients use these apps to register pain levels at different times by simply tapping easy-to-understand icons, instead of typing text.

Consumers today are making-researched decisions to solve their issues on their mobile devices, their telephones and their computers. According to Christopher Northam vice president of Telehealth at Nashville, physicians are going to be able to make similar decisions through the use of the same technology. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), total U.S. healthcare spending will increase by 5.8% per year between 2018 and 2025. Together, telemedicine and mobile health monitoring aim to help control these rising costs.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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