Dr Melissa O'Connor: Lack of Funding, Clinical Research Among Barriers Limiting Technology Use in Home Health

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, addressed barriers related to access, cost, and knowledge impeding technology use in home health.

Barriers that are impeding the use of technology in home health include accessibility or patient-specific concerns, funding, and lack of evidence-based practices, 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.


Transcript

What are the barriers to using technology to improve at-home care, such as predictive analytics to reduce hospital readmissions?

So, one thing I want to point out is that not all older adults have access to broadband and internet, especially in rural communities. So, that's certainly a huge barrier. Another obvious barrier is that some older adults do not have or do not want technology—but we're seeing that less and less. In my practice and my research, I am seeing more and more older adults using and embracing technology.

So, we as clinicians, need to stop assuming that older adults don't want to use technology, because it's just not true. So, I see that as a barrier. Some older adults certainly do not want to use technology, but that is no longer the majority.

Another barrier is something I referred to earlier, and that is funding to not just develop the technology, but to also develop and use machine learning or predictive analytics, as you asked, to develop AI [artificial intelligence] to learn how to best care for older adults in their home.

And keep in mind, the home health benefit in the United States was established in 1967, which in the grand scheme of things, compared with acute care, is really not that long ago. So, we don't have a ton of evidence-based practices in home health yet. We have so, so much, so much that we still need to learn so that we can have the very best outcomes possible for older adults living in their home. And we need to learn and continue to use machine learning, AI, predictive analytics—all of these things will help us get there so much faster, but we need the funding to conduct rigorous and quality research.

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