Telemedicine Helps Seniors Stay In Their Own Homes Longer

Telemedicine has the ability to help a multitude of people across the globe, but this newly innovative method of communicating with healthcare professionals especially makes a difference in the lives of seniors. It can be difficult for elderly patients to make it out of their homes for appointments, and in some extreme cases they may not even be allowed to stay in their own homes by themselves, and instead will be transferred to a nursing home for around the clock supervision and care for fear that somebody might fall and hurt themselves or get injured in some other way. Telemedicine can help break this inability to help the elderly of the world, by bringing them back home where they belong and offering support in a new way.

Big Enough To Help Globally

This isn’t just a North American movement, although it has been making headlines in North America for quite some time. On the contrary, telemedicine has become a huge industry spanning the globe, and gives promise to healthcare in many branches and societies to offer a more stable, long term solution to medical shortages in rural towns and other areas. Elaine Profeldt of CNBC reports: “Globally, the telemedicine patient-monitoring market grew from $4.2 billion in 2007 to more than $10 billion in 2012, according to a report from Kaloroma Information, a publisher of medical market research with offices in Rockville, Md., and New York City.”

Patient-monitoring is just a small slice of the telemedicine pie, meaning that it’s more than a ten billion dollar industry to date and still has room to expand and grow as time moves forward and technology advances. Not everybody is open the idea of this form of medical care, and of course there are regulations and laws in every country, state, and province that govern the practices being used online, but overall it is a highly successful market offering aid to millions in need.

Taking The Care Back Home

As mentioned above, one of the most important ways that this style of practice improves the lives of the elderly is by bringing them back to their homes where they belong, rather than placing them in nursing homes to be monitored around the clock. Katie Wike of Health IT Outcomes states: “According to a recent study published in Health Affairs, use of telemedicine can reduce hospitalizations of nursing home residents and generate savings for medicare.”

This can be done using the technology in special monitors that patients wear around their wrists. This can send a signal and sound an alarm when somebody falls or hurts themselves and a nurse or doctor in the area who is on stand-by is notified to help at the patient’s house. Once a healthcare provider arrives and is sure that there’s no need to alert an ambulance, they may connect with another doctor through telemedicine to double check that the patient is not in need of any extra care, and that it’s safe for them to be left alone again.

Getting To The Doctor

Telemedicine also helps greatly when it comes time to visit the doctor as many older patients don’t have the means or energy to travel long distances to reach their physicians. Sometimes money is an issue, in other cases poor health or fatigue could keep somebody from wanting to venture out, especially in the colder months when it’s easier to get sick or catch a chill on the way to a clinic. By utilizing the technology offered through telemedicine older patients can speak to a physician about minor things without leaving the comfort of their home. Even a prescription can be sent out and delivered to a nearby pharmacy or directly to a house the following day after a consultation is made.

After Hours Care

Visiting the emergency room for afterhours care can be a hassle, and it’s exhausting for men and women who are still in their younger years, let alone older men and women who need to contact a relative for a drive to the hospital. Unfortunately in some areas there isn’t even an emergency room within close driving distance, which means travelling quite some way to sit in a waiting room, possibly for hours, to have your issue looked at. With telemedicine, you’re able to skip the drive, skip the waiting room, and find out if what you were going to the ER to have diagnosed is worth the trip before leaving. This is completely relative to the problem at hand, of course, because if there is an actual emergency then physical contact with a doctor is always the best way to be treated, as an online physician can only do so much from where they are sitting. Communicating with a doctor through video conferencing is excellent for minor injuries or concerns about coughs and colds, but anything more extreme should definitely be seen to in person.

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