Healthcare in the home: using technology to deliver care

This article first appeared in the May 2013 edition of Pulse+IT Magazine.

The use of medical devices in the home and remote monitoring are proven technologies, but the barrier to wider use remains an economic one. Some devices are publicly funded but many aren't. However, wider use of assistive technologies in the home can be cost-effective by reducing the number of expensive, unnecessary hospitalisations.

The Australian health system is facing serious challenges. We have an ageing population and a high prevalence of chronic disease. Over $121 billion was spent on health in 2009-10 and this cost is expected to skyrocket over the next decades.

A large proportion of health expenditure is spent on chronic disease management in the hospital setting. Older Australians wish to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Many are technologically savvy and willing to embrace assistive medical technologies.

There has been a rapid adaptation of existing medical devices for the home health market. Almost any medical device can be wirelessly enabled to assist with healthcare delivery in the home. Technologies underlying telehealth and home healthcare such as interoperability and wireless solutions have led to major innovations in other industries.

There are a range of assistive medical technologies that can be used to monitor and manage healthcare in the home. The conditions that are most suited for home care and remote monitoring include those that are prevalent with age such as heart disease and diabetes.

The challenge is not in the development of new technology: the technology is there. The challenge is making the existing range of assistive technologies accessible to all Australians regardless of age, income or geographic location.

To read the full story, click here for the May 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Author Details

Anne Trimmer is CEO of the Medical Technology Association of Australia.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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