Nothing can take the place of human touch when it comes to patient care. For those of us in home care, technology does not replace direct patient contact, but rather serves as a powerful ally. I like to say that technology known as telehealth enhances my team’s intelligence.
What is telehealth? Telehealth is defined as a means for exchanging health care information using communication technology. It can be as simple as a conversation between two providers discussing a patient’s status over the phone, or as sophisticated as performing robotic surgery between locations miles apart or even on opposite sides of the globe.
Hebrew SeniorLife’s Home Care team is using telehealth to monitor patients on a daily basis at their, not our, convenience. Telehealth technology enable us to monitor a patient’s vital signs, weight and oxygen level, as well as ask a number of questions over the phone that help us monitor overall health status. By collecting and analyzing patient information daily, my team and I are able to detect symptoms that suggest complications, which may require immediate attention. Early intervention can often prevent emergency room visits.
Telehealth enhances our connection with patients and supports our goal to provide informed, good quality care. At the same time it helps patients who are coping with chronic conditions such as COPD (chronic pulmonary obstructive disease), congestive heart failure, diabetes and pain management maintain as much independence and enjoy the best quality of life possible.
Telehealth is an example of how technology can bring us closer together—patients, patient families and clinicians across multiple disciplines. For me, my team and the patients we serve, it’s a good thing.