Melissa O'Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, FGSA, FAAN, endowed professor in community and home health nursing, M. Louise Fitzpatrick School of Nursing, Villanova University, and director, Gerontology Interest Group, spoke on the early use of technology in assessing older adults in the home setting and what research is required to improve best practices for their use.
The use of technology to assess older adults in the home setting is still in its infancy, with more research required to improve these innovations and determine when and how best to use them for these patient populations, said Melissa O'Connor, PhD, MBA, RN, FGSA, FAAN, endowed professor in community and home health nursing, M. Louise Fitzpatrick School of Nursing, Villanova University, and director, Gerontology Interest Group.
Where are opportunities to improve at-home assessments with technology?
The field of caring for older adults in their homes using technology is, I believe, in its infancy. We haven't seen anything yet. We are learning more and more that telehealth can reduce hospital readmissions, promote self-care, as I mentioned earlier, among chronically ill older adults who live at home.
We need more research, which means we need more funding to support the research, not just from the technology development perspective, but also to learn how to best use the technology to care for older adults in their home, such as who's ready for discharge and who needs additional time in home health? How can we best triage and prioritize patients, especially in our staffing crunches? Every industry, nearly, in this country is experiencing staffing shortages and home health is certainly no exception.
So, sometimes perhaps home health agencies will need to prioritize who's going to get a visit and when. We need to base that in the evidence and learn how to do that. Also, the visit pattern: Technology and data-mining could help us with determining the ideal visit pattern. One size does not fit all. Individuals need individual care, depending upon their chronic condition, depending upon their social determinants of health. Do they live alone? Do they have access to their medications and food?
So, we need research in addition to what we currently have, which is clinician judgment, to help us make these decisions with the patient that will provide the most benefit to them and help us control costs, because both of those things certainly are critical costs in providing the best care.