The statistics related to chronic disease management are staggering. According to the US National Center for Health Statistics, 40 percent of the US population have chronic conditions and almost one-third of this patient population has multiple chronic conditions. It’s a struggle to manage and engage these patients and keep the “sickest of the sick” at home, receiving care, vs. returning to the hospital or another facility. These high-risk members are also the most expensive. The treatment of patients with chronic conditions accounts for three-quarters of the $2.2 trillion in healthcare spending, with roughly 96 cents per dollar spent in Medicare and 83 cents per dollar in Medicaid, according to the CDC.
Unfortunately, these patients may be “frequent fliers” in a health system; they typically need more attention between care appointments and often rely on emergency medical services and/or the emergency room to answer questions and provide care in non-critical situations. Significant opportunities exist for technology and touchpoints to bring ongoing care and support closer to these patients. Virtual care technology can improve care coordination and increase patient access to convenient care 24/7. Frequent touchpoints can continually engage chronic care patients, resulting in better disease management, improved outcomes and reduced costs.
Post-acute care organizations are embracing the use of a virtual care communication platform to engage chronic care patients and optimize their agency’s available resources. Using a combination of a video-based platform and readily available smartphones, tablets and PCs, home health clinicians can quickly connect, communicate and collaborate with patients – and colleagues — to ensure patients are actively monitored and motivated in their care without a series of in-home visits.
Ongoing messages and a series of virtual visits can augment – and even replace – many traditional in-person visits, effectively reducing the costs and liabilities associated with nurses driving to each patient’s home. The virtual visit can also include a clinician, a pharmacist and even an interpreter, depending on the patient’s needs. During virtual visits, home health providers can use video to detect potential patient issues before an in-person consult is needed and deliver preventive care during the call, minimizing the need for an immediate in-person intervention.
Medical innovators can’t come up with ways to implement 3D printing into categories of healthcare fast enough. With so many practical applications, 3D printing is quickly becoming a technology realized for its untapped potential and seemingly limitless possibility to transform healthcare.
3D printing alone has many applications across a wide range of industries — for one example, advancements in health data are benefiting nursing and patient care. As 3D printing continues to be combined with the innovations in health data, it will further revolutionize patient care, lower healthcare costs, expand the field of nursing, and improve modern medicine as we know it. How will 3D printing and health data do this?
Below is an extensive look at how innovations in health data are changing healthcare fields, and how 3D printing will further reform these sectors, allowing for advancements in both medical practice and patient care.
Home healthcare benefits patients who would like personal care in the comfort of their own home. Elderly and disabled patients don’t have to travel to have minor care done, and patients who have such diseases as HIV and are worried about discrimination or bias can have their privacy. Home-based care allows for specialized care for the patient, rehabilitation, and the close monitoring of vital signs for health and wellness, without the trouble of an in-person office visit. This convenient transfer of data through new technology makes it increasingly easier for caregivers, whether it be family members or professionals, to care for patients on their terms.
ASU reports, “75.2 percent of nurses agree that telemedicine makes their job easier.” Telemedicine is another sector of healthcare made possible by the accessibility of telecommunication technologies such as videoconferencing. Through videoconferencing, a professional is able to listen to a patient’s concerns and diagnose illness or injury from a remote location. This gives the patient another level of privacy and both parties freedom and independence. Telemedicine cuts healthcare costs, as a physician doesn’t need to physically travel to a patient every time a minor checkup is needed.
EHRs and CPOEs
Electronic health records, or EHRs, are just that: electronic patient health documents that provide real-time information. Medical history, treatments, and diagnoses can be constantly updated along with other details such as allergies and current medications. An infographic by Duquesne University highlights the increased reliance on EHRs while illustrating patient data in the age of technology.
CPOEs, or computerized provider/physician order entries, are a better way to order medication and control the dosage and frequency at which the medication is administered. This efficient method of ordering pharmaceuticals reduces error and abuse, and therefore diminishes illness and injury. As Scott Rupp writes, CPOEs are “foundational for meaningful use. Make sure it’s easy to use and intuitive.”
Involvement of 3D Printing
In its infant stages, 3D printing is being utilized to make hearing aids, prosthesis, skin for burn victim patients, heart and airway splints, and much more. Showing potential for almost every aspect of healthcare, 3D printing, combined with the innovations in health data above, will transform these fields for even more accessible, affordable, and convenient healthcare.
3D printing can be applied to home health care, telecommunications, EHRs and CPOE in a number of ways. A professional can diagnose the atrophy of a leg, order the rehabilitation of walking, 3D print a prosthetic, and monitor the progress all while a patient is at home. In another instance, home healthcare and telemedicine can diagnose that a patient is ill, EHRs and CPOEs will allow for a better determination of what medication to order, and 3D printing can be used to print the medication for a patient
More accessible healthcare means more easily affordable healthcare, and with the involvement of 3D printing home-based care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs, healthcare will be transformed and turned on its ear. Patients who desire privacy, or are not mobile, will be able to get the care they need at home, while professionals will be able to stay in the office to help people with more immediate and urgent matters.
As mentioned above, 3D printing is in its infancy stages for many of these processes. An argument can be made that 3D printing will make home care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs more expensive — and that’s true, but only for now. As 3D printing becomes more of a norm in the medical field, and it will with its promising applications, the cost will decrease. As 3D printing becomes a normal process in these fields, it will increase patient care and make healthcare more accessible and more easily affordable.
Recently, the president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) called on all American’s to commemorate National Home Care & Hospice Month. He also stated that in the coming years, home health care is poised to play a central role in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country. Yet, the growing home health market is not without challenges. Solutions that blend innovation and mobility at the point of care can help pave the way for strong patient-caregiver interactions and support positive outcomes.
Home Health Poses Challenges: Mobile Solutions Can Improve Care Delivery
An aging population and tough new compliance and regulatory issues are posing challenges for the home healthcare segment. The unique and specific needs of the home healthcare market must play a paramount role in organizations seeking to develop mobile solutions to address these issues. Home caregivers urgently need “smart” solutions that address not only patient privacy, but also, wireless connectivity, mobile printing, security and remote data access.
There are a number of issues and trends impacting the healthcare industry that solution providers and caregivers need to keep top-of-mind:
Reimbursements/Re-admissions – Medicare reimbursement reductions and new penalties are being imposed on hospitals with high avoidable re-admissions. This increases the pressure on home health agencies to leverage technology to aid patients in following aftercare instructions, adhering to medication plans and accessing their medical information – all to better prevent costly re-admissions from occurring.