Searching online for health information is the third most common online activity behind checking e-mail and using a search engine according to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Interest & American Life Project. But that doesn't mean caregivers should assume that everyone has access to the Internet when it comes to patient education and communication. In fact, the survey showed that those who might most need access to online health information at least likely to have access to that information.
By age, patients older than 65 are least likely to be online, yet they are the highest users of health care and are most likely to be managing chronic illnesses. What's needed is readily available technology that connects seniors to a nurse who monitors and asseses vital signs from a remote location. Such a "virtual physician" will lighten demand for emergency room visits on an already overburdened hospital system in Los Angeles County.
PROJECT SUMMARY :: The Virtual Community Wellness Project
Our goal is to build upon our existing platform of providing cutting-edge Telehealth technology solutions in underserved communities by promoting wellness to all age groups, with an emphasis on the senior citizen population. In conjunction with local healthcare providers, the Virtual Community Wellness Project proposes to increase the;
number of clients who will be able to be cared for in their homes and/or remain in their homes longer by using Telehealth devices.
percentage of clients who will be better informed about how to manage their health conditions with the assistance of Telehealth service providers.
MANAGING YOUR HEALTH ::
An introduction to Telehealth as a viable option for wellness.
How It Works
VCW Telehealth monitoring provides high-quality, web-based, encrypted, video conferencing services using cloud computing to underserved senior citizen populations. We connect a healthcare professional in one location with an individual seeking a health consultation in another location, the patient can be hundreds of miles away.
IMPACT :: Why Telehealth Is Important
· Empower and educate communities on positive health and wellness options.
· Provide real-time options to those seeking assistance.
For Patients …
· have better outcomes because of timelier access to specialists who can apply the highest standards of care associated with their clinical discipline when evaluating the patient.
· reduce unnecessary admissions or readmissions when through remote monitoring or remote consultations with clinicians, they are able to better manage their health situations while at home.
· avoid unnecessary transfers to another facility when a remote specialist can determine if the patient’s best care option is to stay local and allowing the patient to remain closer to the support network of family and friends.
For Tertiary care facilities …
· develop relationships with underserved care facilities that need help, and thereby get more transfers when a tele-consulting physician determines that the patient needs the level of care that only the tertiary care facility can provide.
For the healthcare system as a whole …
· enables its increasing number of patients with healthcare needs to access the decreasing supply of clinicians.
For Physicians …
· extend their clinical reach to patients who can benefit from their expertise.
· in some cases, earn on-call pay for providing tele-consults.
· save time traveling between facilities to see patients, increasing their productivity and improving their quality of life.
Our Track Record ::
Since the inception of the Virtual Community Wellness Project, we have served over 42 serior citizens, 20 heart patients (as a direct result of being a breast cancer survivor) and 5 individuals with disabilities, with cutting-edge telemonitoring services.
Project Objectives ::
The value of the Virtual Community Wellness Project is in its ability to provide an efficient healthcare delivery model and reduce medical costs while at the same time improving the quality of care.
a. Provide the ability to monitor patients from a distance, using telemedicine technologies and electronic medical monitoring devices to record and send measurements of patient's vital signs with the assistance of a Certified Telemedicine caregiver.
b. Optimal cost savings and efficiency improvements in the delivery of healthcare in rural and underserved communities for chronice illnesses.
c. Decrease the rate of hospitalizations and readmissions after surgery or acute care through a high-performance infrastructure for collaborative patient-to-caregiver-to institution telemedicine.
d. Provide a personalized patient-centered approach to telecare for patients living with a chronic condition in the home through consistent in-home monitoring, patient education and healthcare team coordination.
e. Develop strategies that support and encourage informed patients who are engaged in their own wellness.
f. Train certified professionals with the critical skills needed to use the latest telemedicine technology to improve the quality of patient care and the efficiency of healthcare operations.
g. Provide a verifiable and sustainable model with demonstrated efficiencies for possible expansion and duplication of project in other regions.
Health Care for Seniors ::
Most older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. In 2009-2011, the most frequently occurring conditions among older persons were: diagnosed arthritis (51%), all types of hert disease (31%), any cancer (24%), diagnosed diabetes (20% in 2007-2010), and hypertension (high blood pressure or taking antihypertensive medication ) (72% percent).
Among people age 75 and over, 21 percent had 10 or more visits to a doctor or other health care professiona over a twelve month period compared to 14 percent among people age 45 to 64.
Older Americans spent 12.% of their total expenditures on health, almost twice the proportion spent by all consumers (6.7%).
Over 3.6 million elderly persons (8.7%) were below the poverty level in 2011. This poverty rate is not statistically different from the poverty rate in 2010 (8.9%). Another 2.4 milion or 5.8% of the elderly were classified as "near-poor" (income between the poverty level and 125% of this level).
Just over 1.6 million older Whites (not Hispanic) (6.7%) were poor in 2011, compared to 17.3% of elderly African-Americans, 11.7% of Aians, and 18.7 of elderly Hispanics. Higher than average poverty rates were found in 2011 for older persons who lived inside principal cities (11.7%) and in the South (10.1%).** Source: Department of Public Health, 2010 US Census
Risks & Challenges ::
According to Andrew Watson, MD, a surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh's Medical Center, avid user of telemedicine and vice president of UPMC's International and Commercial Services Division, telemedicine can be used in any location. "Just because telemedicine is different does not mean it is bad, it is the future," says Dr. Watson.
Despite the benefits of increased access to care, quality improvements and cost controls, telemedicine is not simple to implement. There are multiple challenges and barriers that hospitals face.
The following are four common challenges to telemedicine.
Challenge one—Administrative engagement
Challenge two - Physician engagement
Challenge three - Infrastructure
Challenge four - sustainability
The Virtual Community Wellness project was designed to help combat some of the more common challenges hospitals face by bringing healthcare services into the community via the implementation of Telehealth methodologies.Note: The complete article on Telehealth challenges can be found at:
Several barriers have been removed since 2012 with on-going innovative technologies to help meet the increasing demand for better healthcare.