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How health monitoring in assisted livings can approach ambulatory chronic patients

Patient monitoring gets hotter these days thanks to value-based care focus. This topic is being discussed from different points of view and in various dimensions, so we’re adding some fuel to the flame with our own experience in software for assisted livings.

Inpatient monitoring expansion encounters a lot of skepticism on its way. For some caregivers, the idea of gathering patients’ vitals and analyzing seems not a matter of primary importance. And as they also need to consider the outpatient monitoring options, the heap of questions and objections appears. They might say “oh, we have nurses, they are skilled enough to tackle patients’ health tracking without the help of technology”.

So we think that to understand the possibilities of inpatient and outpatient monitoring better and take away some questions, we just need to look from the long-term perspective.

Health monitoring module

Where to look for obvious patient monitoring benefits

Systematic patient health tracking is way more representative in nursing homes, senior housing and other assisted living facilities. Why is that? Well, information is accumulated for years, allowing to make the most of monitoring, analyzing and applying the extracted insights with the ability to see the actual results.

And, what is very important, most of assisted livings’ and senior housings’ residents already have at least one chronic condition. Thus, monitoring their health status means not only maintaining wellbeing of elderly people, but also contributing to chronic disease management, preventing complications and exacerbations.

How a health monitoring module works

One of our projects included building a health monitoring module to expand a solution for assisted livings. Turned out, it also became a chronic disease management software, and in a few moments you’ll see why.

The module allows caregivers to record the following patients’ vitals:

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose
  • INR
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Pulse
  • Respiration
  • Temperature
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Meal intake
  • Bowel movement
  • Fluid intake and output

Now, this list includes health data which would be beneficial both for chronic patients and elder residents of senior housing organizations.

During each patient’s contact with personnel – medication delivery, massage, physiotherapeutic procedure, shower assistance and more – new record including certain vitals is created. Each record is automatically processed, aggregated and analyzed to extract valuable insights.

For example, caregivers are notified if a patient has a significant weight change in short time periods, as this could point at a severe health deterioration. Low meal or fluid intake is also a reason to alert the personnel, as a person doesn’t get all the micro- and macronutrients needed. Nutrition is no less important for both diabetes patients and seniors at retirement homes.

How health monitoring module works

What outcomes caregivers and patients get

Talking outcomes, inpatient monitoring allows prevention and early diagnostics of chronic and acute conditions, as well as systematic chronic care management.

For instance, by analyzing the big data flow, caregivers can trigger the pre-diabetes stage and ensure a patient won’t cross this line. Meanwhile, if a person is already having diabetes, providers will have more information to make better decisions in treatment plan updates. This will ensure stable health status without the risk to develop severe complications.

Next step: expanding the assisted livings’ approach to ambulatory patients

Remote patient monitoring is a more complex health tracking approach, as it is… well, remote. Our suggestion is to go with mobile technology, since it is the most convenient way for patients to measure, record and share their data. On their side, caregivers should have the tool to interact with app users.

Still, although the app can be in his or her pocket, this doesn’t guarantee consistent and regular information flow. Mood swings, bad memory and lack of self-discipline are here to make health data arbitrary. Therefore, providers need to motivate their patients, help them to control the condition or to prevent it, all depends on each particular case.

In some cases, when a patient can’t record the vitals themselves, relatives or caregivers can do it instead. It is also necessary to understand what features are a must, and what some patients won’t use. Sure, providers need to endeavor to cover the various individuals’ needs, but even if this medical app development issue poses a challenge, the outcomes reward the efforts.

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