Healthcare in aged care is going through an era of unprecedented digital change. A combination of clinical practice model transformation and technological disruption is reshaping multiple areas of the aged healthcare ecosystem. At the heart of this change are practitioners and practice managers, who are increasingly seeing how technology can better support more positive patient outcomes and more personalised, patient-centric care.
A more personalised patient experience
Technology greatly improves aged care patient experience, with cloud-based practice management solutions like Helix offering healthcare providers the flexibility to deliver remote care and manage bookings and appointments on the go, and on any device.
With data stored securely on the cloud, healthcare providers can access their patient’s information on the go without being limited to a desk. This opens up greater opportunities for healthcare providers to conduct more regular and convenient interactions with their elderly patients. This ultimately results in more patient-centric care and more optimum patient engagement.
Empowering an ageing population
Wearable devices and smart home networks can further support the development of homecare for an ageing population by improving remote monitoring and enabling a more mobile healthcare workforce. Meanwhile biosensors can track customer’s vital signs, automatically updating e-health records and notifying nearby hospitals in an emergency.
And as smart home integration systems and IoMT are becoming increasingly sophisticated, the potential of close patient monitoring has never been greater, to the point where if a patient hasn’t opened the fridge or left the bathroom within their usual timeframe, a smart monitoring station can alert a healthcare provider to the possibility of a fall or other mishap.
Collaboration and deeper patient insights
Technology can also help automate clinical processes, which can help reduce administrative burdens and boost efficiency, leaving practitioners with more time to focus on delivering better aged healthcare. At the same time, cloud-based solutions can offer clinical practice to collaborate and communicate more effectively with hospitals, opening opportunities to gain deeper insights from patient data and work more closely together to drive better patient outcomes.
One example of technology supporting great aged care in practice is Dr Aged Care, a practice of roving doctors who deliver much needed care in residential aged care homes around Victoria. Helix, a cloud-based clinic software solution from MedicalDirector, provides not only the flexibility to deliver care throughout the community but also the interface to effectively manage the health of elderly patients, many of whom have complex care needs.
"The flexibility of the cloud-based software allows us to carry our laptops around with us into different rooms and complete consult notes in real time,” Dr Aged Care Practitioner, Dr Azadul Islam, says. “We work with mature patients who have multiple medical conditions, meaning treatment can be complex. Therefore, we need to have all patient information in clear view during our consultations."
Samy Medical Group’s doctors also leverage technology to deliver care to elderly patients that need it wherever they are. Because cloud-based software is not reliant on a locally hosted server, Samy Medical Group has been able to integrate flexibility into its practice – and streamline time spent on administration – so its doctors can focus on delivering care.
“We want to leverage technology, like Helix, to deliver care in new ways,” Professor Martin Samy says. “For example, we aim to provide consultations remotely via smart devices. If a patient wakes up unwell, we want them to be able to receive the care they need via their smartphone without the inconvenience of hunting for an appointment and travelling to a practice. Helix only allows us to deliver care outside the practice now and will allow us to deliver it remotely in the future.”
Roadblocks to overcome
But as technology starts surfacing as a critical enabler for supporting better aged care, there are issues that still need to be addressed and challenges overcome for greater adoption in the wider healthcare industry.
One of the problems for aged healthcare is that levels of data growth are unsustainable under legacy on-premise solutions and clinical management tools, which simply can’t manage the collaborative requirements of modern data and the applications through which it is used. Not only do they lack the performance capabilities, they can be rigid, difficult and expensive to manage.
A recent report released by the Aged Care IT Council revealed there is a need for greater interoperability and more technology readiness in today’s still somewhat fragmented aged healthcare tech landscape. It called for greater adoption of more sustainable, scalable and innovative solutions in Australia, and that the industry start taking digital transformation more seriously.
Moving forward, integrating new technology will support healthcare for the aged care sector with smoother, more efficient processes, deeper patient insights and more connected, personalised patient care. Most importantly, it will help senior Australians live at home for longer and have greater choice, independence and autonomy over their treatment, and feel more empowered with their patient experience.