‘Aging populations – can connected home care offer answers?’ | #Philipschat

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future health index

Nov 23, 2017 - reading time 5 mins

By FHI editorial team


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Connected care has the potential to transform the way people are looked after later in life. As populations age, more needs to be done to integrate health and social care systems and find ways that people can be treated and monitored at home, rather than in hospitals.

Nurse listening to chest of patient in home

In our latest #PhilipsChat, we once again took to Twitter to discuss how to make the goal of truly connected home care a reality. A lot of the technology is there, but obstacles regarding data sharing and implementation persist.


We invited UK homecare nurse and facilitator of #NurChat Donna Mullikin, founder of care data company SeniorGrowth Felipe de la Fuente and health journalist Andrea Chipman to be part of the chat with Philips’ Chief Medical Officer Jan Kimpen.


With 5 million impressions, 339 tweets and 111 participants, this is the conversation that followed.

What are the biggest challenges in healthcare for aging populations?

While people are living longer than ever before, hospitals are having to deal with the strain as they try and accommodate more patients. Jan Kimpen started the discussion by summarizing the challenge and the possible solution. “Rising rates of chronic disease & acute healthcare needs are placing systems under pressure. We must focus on prevention – helping people live healthier lives for longer – & solutions that shift services from hospital to home”.


Donna Mullikin agreed: “[For people] Living with multiple health issues, homecare can help by managing from home with telehealth”. Felipe de la Fuente followed up to point out that care is about more than just medicine.


Raising the issue of isolation and loneliness, he asked “How about the importance of the social determinants of health beyond pure medical indicators? How do you see the importance of loneliness, activities, purpose, nutrition in the aging process?” For Donna and other respondents, telehealth was a possible solution, offering people at home a way to talk to their doctors – “Skype is a great way for the older population to keep in touch”.


The discussion then moved on to the gap between health and social care, which Andrea Chipman recently covered in an article for the Future Health Index. Other replies to the first question included:


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Are there any best practices in moving towards integration of home and hospital care?

Although the technology exists, integrating home and hospital care still presents a number of challenges, which is slowing down adoption.


Nursing informatics expert Danielle Siarri put forward a simple two-step process where there can be a “post discharge follow up with primary care practitioner when available, arranged by discharge planner at hospital”. Jan Kimpen highlighted the role of data, saying that “IoT, cloud and Big Data technologies are transforming primary healthcare, away from hospitals to lower cost environments. 52% of @KPShare appointments are handled virtually”.


For Felipe de la Fuente, collaboration between all stakeholders is key: “Sharing information between hospital and the extended care team at home is critical. Care team means not only medical practitioners but also family and friends, and non-medical care agencies”.


All participants seemed to be in agreement, with Andrea Chipman asking the big question: “Some HCPs are resistant to telehealth. Could a solution be getting them more involved in the design of systems?” Donna Mullikin replied that “It needs to change and upgrade IT systems and improve on shareability”.


A few other Tweets on this question included:

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How can the use of digital technology still give the patient the experience of personal care?

The discussion then moved onto the broader role of technology and how personal care will be affected. Felipe de la Fuente started off by warning about the possible dehumanization of patients in the face of digital solutions. “In many circumstances,” he said, “personal care is still far from being truly person-centric. Logistics, financials, and activities (incl., ADLs) are the critical elements. Often, the person is overlooked and solutions in connected care don’t focus on them”.


Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, agreed with the sentiment, highlighting that the technology shouldn’t be the only aspect of care, instead being “24/7 and ubiquitous. The technology however, should disappear into the background and only accentuate and augment”.


Electronic health records (EHRs) are an integral part of connected care, providing a central point for patient information and accessible by HCPs wherever they are. Participants were quick to agree on their benefits, with Donna Mullikin saying they play a “very important role if used effectively and information is transferable to non NHS healthcare providers”.


Jan Kimpen elaborated, saying that “Standardized EHRs that can be consistently integrated are a critical to unlocking better value in healthcare. Improving patient experience through seamless information sharing and high quality clinical data, also help to scale predictive population management.”


However, the prospect of patient data doesn’t come without considerations. The discussion turned towards data and security, which was the subject of a recent FHI podcast. Jan Kimpen said that “The worries are widespread. So there is a big incentive to reach for maximal safety and security. All stakeholders have to team up to make the system sound.”


Felipe de la Fuente extended the question of privacy to family and other non-medical caregivers: “EHR should be the key component of information sharing among care team members, within and outside the boundaries of the health system. What are those boundaries when home is where health is delivered and the care team are the members of the family?”


Some other opinions on this question included:

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What are the best home care apps for older patients?

With telehealth and mobile possibilities fresh in everyone’s mind, the final question asked participants what they think are the best apps for use in home care.


Jan Kimpen was first to respond and put forward Jovia Coach, which combines technology with human coaching for people at-risk of type 2 diabetes. The program supports participants to adopt the dietary, lifestyle and exercise habits aiming to reduce the risk of the disease.


Rasu Shrestha followed up by linking to five apps for dementia and Alzheimer’s– all designed to help patients stay safe and stimulate their minds through memories and puzzles.


Stay tuned for our next #PhilipsChat – coming soon!

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