Harnessing the power of IoT, these sensors can offer reliable remote monitoring platforms to patients and providers at a lower cost while still allowing control, compliance, and ease of use.
Author: Alex Tate
Digital technology is radically revolutionizing the healthcare landscape. With modern and easy-to-use technologies, such as IoT sensors, patients are empowered to monitor their vitals, and the providers are facilitated to make better predictions regarding health outcomes. Speaking of the aging population, IoT sensors and enabled devices can fill in the gaps where families lack visibility, and the caregivers lack time and resources.
With the baby boomers comprising the largest living generation of around 72 million, the healthcare industry has reached a critical inflection point. More and more people are reaching the age where they require more care. This surge in seniors coincides with other care-related variables, such as their lifestyle expectations and current caregiver shortages. Hence, families and healthcare professionals are considering appropriate senior care options.
Visibility, accountability, and actionability are three primary requirements for seniors’ caretaking, whether they remain at home or are moved to an assisted living facility. For families who can’t be along with the patient 24/7, there are nurses to provide adequate care to the seniors. IoT-enabled devices can prove incredibly helpful to these caregivers by providing data-driven insights on the patient’s health, whereabouts, and their real-time status. So, the providers and the families can both stay updated and informed about the patient while responding nimbly as needed.
Here are three ways how IoT sensors can improve care for aging populations:
Improve Quality of Care
Senior Americans today are staying at homes longer before transitioning to nursing facilities. This complies with their increasing desire to remain independent and in the comfort of their homes. According to an AARP survey, 76 percent of American seniors prefer staying in their current homes for as long as possible. Still, only 46 percent anticipate that they will be able to do so. However, ensuring safe and sufficient at-home healthcare for seniors is typically complex. This is partly because these seniors require constant assistance from their family and friend. Now, these family members and friends might not always be available when needed, especially in emergencies. People then resort to paid assistance.
Better yet, instead of relying on friends, family, and nurses, patients and their families can deploy IoT-enabled sensors to monitor the patient. Wearable devices embedded with these sensors allow reliable and seamless connectivity while ensuring visibility to the caregivers. Monitoring patient vitals becomes a lot easier, with sensors sending regular data to a remote connected device available to the caregivers. Hundreds of home health devices can be remotely managed from one centralized dashboard, thereby improving care quality. The caregivers are then equipped with evidence-based data that allows them to follow up with their patients when needed.
One exciting application of IoT sensors is in the domain of Bluetooth-enabled devices. In fact, more than 90% of today’s smart medical devices use Bluetooth technology which explains why Bluetooth networking is so important for health and medical applications. Home health kits equipped with specific Bluetooth devices customized for patients’ health needs typically use Bluetooth gateway to connect to an external dashboard. These devices can be connected simultaneously in that patient’s home and still offer reliable and seamless connectivity. For instance, patients can conveniently place their Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitor in their living room and rest assured that their vital data is being securely communicated through the cloud to their healthcare provider. Cassia Networks is one leading player offering an S2000 Bluetooth gateway and IoT Access Controller (AC) that allows easy management of remote care of home health devices from one centralized dashboard. A valid application of this technology is the smart bed that can detect essential bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. This bed is usually equipped with diaper sensors that detect wetness and humidity. Collectively both the devices prompt the caregivers via a Bluetooth application to take the necessary action for senior patients care.
Ensure the Functioning of Equipment
For patients who have moved from their homes to an assisted living facility, IoT sensors help cut down the dependency on nurses for primary care. These facilities already suffer from the lack of staff and an influx of patients simultaneously, making patient monitoring more tedious and cumbersome. The nursing staff’s burden further increases when they have to monitor the patients and the medical equipment both. In most cases, these equipment are located in remote areas, making it even harder to track and manage, taking time away from core patient care.
IoT sensors can help create a connected environment that regularly shares monitoring information about the equipment, including daily auto-tests and battery tests. Hence, they facilitate the nurses in ensuring the critical equipment is functioning properly, reallocating this time to patient care.
Multiple senior care devices can be connected to a single dashboard to allow efficient monitoring of the equipment. Seamless long-range, multiple device connectivity typically facilitates improving the equipment’s functionality, thereby allowing the delivery of better-quality care.
Detect Emergencies Among High-Risk Patients
Seniors are particularly a high-risk populace. They are prone to more emergencies as compared to other segments of the patient population. For instance, falls are a leading cause of fatal injury and the most common source of trauma-related hospital admissions amongst the seniors. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 senior Americans falls each year. Wearable IoT-enabled devices can help protect seniors from fatal injuries and prevent falls. For instance, IoT-connected watches can automatically trigger an alert in the event of a fall or if the patient pushes a panic button. The caregivers can, then, act promptly to provide assistance and avoid significant repercussions.
Similarly, IoT sensors are equally valuable for dementia patients. Embedded in wearable devices are GPS chips that allow tracking the patient if they wander away from home. This level of visibility will enable seniors the independence to move around while maintaining the level of outside care they require. Additionally, IoT-connected readers are also equipped with temperature sensors so the caregivers can monitor the patients in the event of a heatwave or a cold spell.
As the aging population continues to grow, families ehr vendors healthcare providers must adopt IoT sensors to meet patient needs and deliver superior quality care. This technology typically bridges the care gap by equipping caregivers with the appropriate tools to monitor their patients continually. Harnessing the power of IoT, these sensors can offer reliable remote monitoring platforms to patients and providers at a lower cost while still allowing control, compliance, and ease of use.