Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Telehealth lets rural seniors be independent longer

"Revolutionary telehealth approaches across the United States are helping senior citizens continue to live independently in their own homes," Candi Helseth of the Rural Assistance Center. Those approaches include a research project that uses telehealth and motion sensors to track and report residents' daily vital signs; integration of telehealth and home nursing care; and management of chronic diseases from home.

The LivingWell@Home program is a five-year Good Samaritan Society telehealth research project being conducted in 40 communities in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska. Participants in the program wear personal emergency response systems that "automatically summon help if they are unable to do so," Helseth writes. The system also directs participants through vital sings checks, and motions sensors installed in homes monitor movement and sleep quality 24 hours a day. Data is sent to Good Samaritan's headquaters in Sioux Falls, S.D., where it's analyzed by nurses who report it to designated care providers.

Windsor Place At-Home Care in Kansas has provided long- and short-term care to seniors since 1997. Ten years later, it started using telehealth, and Executive Director Monte Coffman says the integrated program "improves continuity of care and reduces hospitalizations," Helseth reports. Coffman also said the because keeping seniors at home longer requires less labor, his organization is able to do more with less workers. The Geriatric Assessment Program in New York state allows elderly patients with chronic health problems to connect with doctors via telehealth to develop a care plan. (Read more)

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