Family caregivers have important roles to play in caring for and, in some cases, healing, loved ones. Once upon a time, it was all about buying the right medical equipment and supplies to help your loved one get around, get through the day, and avoid long-term damage associated with spending a great deal of time in bed during treatment, recovery, or as the result of a prolonged illness. Technology is leading to a new way of treating patients at home that is taking some of the strain off of family caregivers. These are just a few technological breakthroughs that are transforming family caregiving today.
Remote patient monitoring is offering physicians the opportunity to stay informed about the health status of patients who are at home. This reduces hospital stays, the number of hospital visits, and the amount of time patients are exposed to other sick people without sacrificing the quality or continuity of care. Things like sensors, monitors, and GPS (global positioning satellite) can be used to help with the promotion of safer living in the home, reduced risks of falls, and faster response times when accidents and/or emergencies occur.
Telehealth services allow the use of home Wi-Fi networks to generate virtual visits with physicians. This means that homebound patients and their caregivers no longer need to go through the laborious process of frequent physician visits and checkups. While some may continue to be necessary, many may be able to be conducted through video streaming services, such as Skype, and with the combination of home health nurses who visit to keep costs down and ease the burdens on family caregivers.
Collect vital signs and other important data to share with physicians daily. With the use of tablet devices, home Wi-Fi networks, and linked equipment, patients can send a laundry list of daily vital signs and health information including: weight, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, blood glucose levels, and other critical information so physicians can monitor from a distance and recognize the first signs of trouble, such as retaining too much fluid or a blood pressure that is too high or too low.
The ability to take care of tasks, such as these, at home, without the assistance of professional caregivers, helps the family maintain privacy, patients maintain independence, and saves caregivers a great deal of time and energy transporting sick patients to and from physicians, hospitals, and more.