The need for homecare is expanding dramatically. There is a surge in the number of older adults in the United States with the aging of the baby boomers. People are living longer than ever before in history. They are better educated and are more comfortable with the use of technology. Most people want to remain independent and live in their homes for as long as possible, yet greater numbers of persons are suffering from chronic conditions. At the same time, the health care industry is facing a critical shortage of public resources, as well as nurses and other health care personnel to care for our population. Health care providers are forced to do more with less, with decreasing reimbursements and increased focused on quality and clinical outcomes.
All of these factors pave the way for technology applications in re-engineering health care delivery processes, improving productivity and access to care, controlling costs, and improving clinical outcomes. Home telehealth applications provide the means to leverage health care processes that can improve access to care and facilitate collaboration among health care providers. Whether used to deliver care, provide information, monitor patient progress, or provide access to patient records, information technology can reduce cost and improve care.
Advances in telecommunication technologies used in health care over the last decade have expanded application possibilities. Home telehealth began with home health agencies providing virtual visits by collecting one or more personal vital signs, which were then sent to a remote monitoring station. Today, with the use of inter-active video and store and forward, applications in the home have expanded. In addition to remote monitoring of vital signs, services provided by home health agencies now include such diverse applications as hospice (palliative care), rehabilitation, case management, chronic disease management, virtual house calls, post-surgical follow-up and more.
ATA has produced the Home Telehealth guideline to encompass these differences and establish a set of universal principles guiding the development and deployment of home telehealth in the future.