Home Is Where the Health Is

Healthcare systems around the globe are facing societal challenges that are pushing the delivery and structure of patient care toward a defining moment. A moment that will require significant changes, shifts towards meaningful efficiencies and individuals actively engaged in the management of their own health.

The trends and numbers are quite startling. Worldwide, a rapidly growing population that includes rising segments of the elderly and chronically ill are taxing healthcare structures. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 50 percent of the developed world will be chronically ill by 2050. Furthermore, the global population of children aged five and under is expected to fall to approximately 49 million by 2050, while the number of people over 60 will balloon to around 1.2 billion.

At the same time that these global trends are taking hold, the WHO estimates that 57 countries have an absolute shortage of 2.3 million physicians, nurses and midwives – too few to address the full needs of a worldwide healthcare system strained under such a dramatic increase in older patients.

Relying solely on hospitals to provide effective long-term care for the burgeoning elderly patient population is unsustainable. If current trends continue, developed countries will be spending over 20 percent of their GDP on healthcare in the not-too-distant future.

Simply put, governments will be challenged to maintain this pace of spending to support healthcare while also earmarking money toward other social programs their constituents demand.

What’s needed are ways to help patients get the care they need outside the walls of the hospital, including:

  1. Technologies that make it easier for hospitals and clinicians to share information about  patients, illnesses and therapies;
  2. Improvements to  the speed, quality and range of services available through outpatient clinics;
  3. Home healthcare solutions and technologies that empower patients to monitor and engage in the management of their own health.

Effective home healthcare means fewer and shorter inpatient stays and frees up valuable resources in hospitals. More importantly, patients who can stay at home tend to be happier and have a better quality of life.

Yet, to realize true success and high patient compliance/utilization rates, home healthcare solutions must be easy-to-use, easy-to-access and, perhaps most importantly, designed with real consumer needs in mind.

Additional social programs, patient education campaigns and new healthcare administration practices that incentivize, and are inclusive of, care outside the hospital walls are also needed in combination with these innovative solutions to truly begin to remedy the looming problems.

However, these home healthcare technologies and information-sharing measures, such as systems that allow for off-site readings and secure sharing to physicians of patients’ vitals and their chronic illness status, represent strong near-term ways to help alleviate the critical issues facing healthcare providers tamiflu online. The promise of home healthcare will increase the number of patients doctors can treat and reduce the number of people that have to be admitted to the hospital – taking some of the pressure off hospitals.