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There is no place like home
The evolving concept of healthcare provision

Healthcare, we want it more efficient, more advanced and cheaper; a near impossible task for healthcare providers. Add to this the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and an aging population, and established healthcare institutions globally are crumbling, faced with escalating healthcare costs and a worsening physician to patient ratio.

The World Health Organisation estimates that chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes account for 63% of deaths annually. Furthermore, estimates from the World Economic Forum state that over the next 20 years the cost of chronic diseases will surpass $30 Trillion.

The traditional model of treating patients in the hospital is no longer sustainable and interest in digital health and home healthcare is accelerating. Increasing use of digital consumer devices and significant advances in healthcare IT infrastructure has now meant that home healthcare is a more real possibility than it has ever been before.

Gamification of health and fitness has gained popularity over the last five years with a surge of consumer devices to market. Wearable activity monitors from Fitbit, Garmin and Jawbone in addition to health and wellness applications such as Apple’s HealthKit, Google Fit and Samsung’s S Health have all experienced strong uptake in an effort to stave off the onset of diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.

But this is just half of the battle. Numerous patients, young and old, require frequent hospital visits for a range of chronic conditions. As healthcare costs become a more pressing problem globally, consumer technology companies are now turning their attention to the more sophisticated areas of digital health including clinical research, telehealth and analytics. Allowing patients to be remotely monitored in the home has numerous benefits, not only for reducing costs but for improving the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness.

Over the last two years there has been heightened development in the digital health sector beyond simply fitness apps. The launch of Apple’s CareKit took Apple’s health applications one stage further, enabling patients to track physical changes or receive medication reminders and share that data remotely with healthcare professionals. Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform allows vital health data to be collected, stored and analysed remotely by physicians in order to monitor disease progression. Qualcomm Life’s system is also vendor neutral, meaning the system can be used with a number of different devices, increasing flexibility for the patient. IBM is also evolving mobile health through its partnership with Apple, building advanced data analytics into Apple’s health apps through its Health Cloud, Watson and MobileFirst programs.

These systems not only provide a less invasive care pathway for patients but also allow a high volume of patients to be simultaneously monitored – lowering costs for healthcare providers and freeing up valuable time and space in hospitals for emergency and acute care.

For the past 10 years the Medical Research Network has led the way in providing clinical trial support in the home, combining technology and specialist nursing services to provide the best care for patients. Developments in consumer and digital health now mean that home healthcare services will be adopted by an increasing number of patients.

Posted by:
Nicola Goatman
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