As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, its impact on at-home care has achieved significant advancements. Technology has revolutionized the way we approach health care, empowering individuals to receive high-quality care from the comfort of their own homes. But is technology and AI advancing at-home care, or is the use of predictive analytics overstepping into a future where health care is automated, non-personal, and uniform?
Telehealth has become a valuable tool in at-home care. With the help of video conferencing and communication tools, health care professionals can now provide virtual consultations, diagnosis, and treatment to patients regardless of their physical location. This means patients with limited mobility or those living in more rural areas can access healthcare guidance without time-consuming travel or allowing conditions to worsen.
By adding remote monitoring devices to patient care, providers can further enhance at-home care to stay connected to patients. Using wearable sensors, smart devices, and even home devices like Amazon Alexa, providers can maintain continuous health monitoring to remotely track vital signs, medication adherence, and other relevant data. At ConcertoCare, we use remote monitoring to help facilitate early intervention, ensure proactive care management, and reduce hospital readmissions, leading to improving patient outcomes while easing the burden on health care systems.
For older adults and/or those living with chronic conditions, managing multiple medications can be confusing and cumbersome. To help assist with this, there are new technologies that help with medication management. These include pill dispensers with built-in reminders and alerts, mobile applications for medication tracking, and even automated prescription refill services. However, these tools are only as effective as the user, and allow for errors in dosing or schedules, without a checks-and-balance system. While the intent for med management technology is helpful, use of these tools should include a human backup, either a clinician or loved one, who can ensure that patients are taking medications as intended.
Pain management is a complex issue that has been traditionally controlled using medications and therapy. But new technology is helping to treat some patients at-home with virtual reality (VR) headsets. This technology creates immersive environments that distract patients from discomfort, making chronic pain more bearable. Additionally, VR can simulate real-world scenarios, allowing patients to practice physical therapy exercises in a virtual setting. However, like medication management, without some type of oversight, this new technology may not make much headway in improving patient outcomes and supporting full rehabilitation. VR may best be viewed as a complementary technology to in-person care to be used alongside more traditional treatments.
Perhaps the most controversial healthcare technology is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics. AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of patient data, identify patterns, and generate insights that help health care professionals make informed decisions. However, there are biases and flawed data that can alter the predictions of health information gathered using AI. At best, these tools can predict health patterns that will alert clinicians to screen for early warning signs and implement preventive care plans. But healthcare will always be human, and no two patients are alike, and shouldn’t receive automated or predictive care. These tools can help to give guidance but shouldn’t replace the administering of care based on provider guidance, clinical experience, and individual patient circumstances.
This approach also holds true for the growing field of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants. Patients and caregivers may be apt to turn to the internet and Generative Powered Technology to look up symptoms, address medical concerns, or even seek treatment. However, this information is uniform, automated, and compiled from thousands of points of data instead of taking the individual patient into consideration. While the internet can be a beneficial resource to learn about health conditions, patients and caregivers should always follow the guidance of their own provider – not automated data.
There’s no denying the recent advancements in technology have opened new horizons in at-home care. But at the heart of these technologies is an individual human, looking for support and guidance from a provider that comes from a relationship of trust and thoughtfulness. As technology continues to evolve, the future of at-home care holds immense promise, creating an era where a human-first approach blends seamlessly with supportive technology to deliver personalized, proactive, and patient-centric care.