What is Home Health?

Home health is when health care providers offer services to patients from the comfort of their own home. This ensures that the patients receive more personalized care. Home health is an important service for physical therapy clinics to consider. This service, if offered correctly, can increase patient engagement and satisfaction.

Benefits of Home Health

1. Focus on Daily Living

First and foremost, home health offers physical therapists the unique opportunity to treat patients directly in their homes. In-home care is the best way for therapists to see patients interacting in their habitat. Homes are where patients will be spending their day-to-day lives. Therefore, therapists will be able to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs). As such, patients will get practical treatment related specifically do their daily tasks.

2. Companionship

Patients significantly benefit from companionship. Senior citizens can particularly benefit from caring companionship. Many seniors experience a lack of human interaction, with less and less visitors each year. 

Studies have shown that social interactions improve health recovery. Even companion animals can make a large impact on patients’ health. Pets provide emotional support that can lower blood pressure and regulate heart rate. One study showed that elderly individuals performed better at ADLs when a companion animal was present.

Needless to say, human social interaction provides further benefits. Physical therapists, through their care of patients, will be ensuring patients’ physical and emotional health.

3. Availability

Home health means accessibility to quality care in the comfort of one’s home. For those who caregive from a distance, home health offers the perfect solution. Trained professionals will be taking care of patients and ensuring that their needs are being met.

Technologies for Home Health

Home healthcare offers unique, personalized care for patients in their own homes. The challenge starts when physical therapists are not in patients’ homes. How do healthcare providers check on patients’ well being when they are not physically together? Here are 7 technologies that are transforming the home health care industry and offering much-needed solutions.

1. Remote Monitoring Tools

Monitoring tools are essential when keeping track of patient health from a distance. Regularly checking in via remote monitoring can eliminate unnecessary in-person appointments. Doctor visits can get expensive and time-consuming on both ends. Therefore, monitoring tools are the best to understanding when appointments are really needed.

Devices and fitness bands can measure heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, and other vital signs. These monitoring tools are useful for patients to keep an eye on their daily health, as well as for healthcare providers, who can use this information to make treatment recommendations.

2. Sensors

Sensors can track many patient behaviors. They can be placed around the house – on doors, appliances, and even the patient. These sensors can provide alerts whenever the patient engages in risky or unhealthy behavior. These behaviors can include leaving the house, eating irregularly, falling, or not leaving the bed.

While remote monitoring tools track vital measurements, sensors track patient behavior. As a result, sensors provide information on day-to-day activities and are a more comprehensive overview of patient activity at home.

3. GPS

GPS is important, especially for seniors. Remote monitoring tools and sensors can alert healthcare providers when there are irregular vital signs or behaviors. GPS can then help locate patients when such alerts are triggered, or in case of an emergency.

Seniors are often isolated and may not know how to properly operate technologies when they need help. GPS allows healthcare providers and caregivers to take matters into their own hands.

4. Smart Home Devices

Senior citizens or injured patients may have difficulty performing routine tasks. Today, we have access to a wide array of robots that simplify or completely take care of certain household chores. As a result, robot vacuum cleaners can clean the house and ensure that patients are living in sanitary environments. Other robot assistants can help with outdoor maintenance like trimming the grass. Automated sprinklers can water flora and fauna as needed.

Smart home hubs can also facilitate patients’ daily activity. Home hubs can alert patients when the doorbell rings or an alarm sounds. Healthcare providers can also be given access to these smart home hubs. With access, caregivers can control household robot helpers and create an automated schedule that assists patients with their day-to-day lives.

5. Big Data

Big data is a rising field. There are many applications to data analysis and manipulation, and one such area is the healthcare industry. Big data and analytics can provide invaluable, customized healthcare services to patients.

One such example is the monitoring of sleep. Through big data, healthcare providers can collect data on sleep patterns, sleep levels, and other patient behavior. With this data, on-the-clock care schedules can be personalized. Healthcare providers may also be able to predict patient behavior through analysis of previously collected data.

6. Mobile Applications

Physical therapists’ access to realtime information and measurements on patients is helpful. However, the accessibility should go both ways. Communication networks between doctor and patient must be well-established. These networks can then make patients feel more comfortable reaching out to their therapists if they have any questions.

AC Health is a mobile application that can facilitate unhindered communication between patients and therapists. Communication goes both ways using selfie videos. Through the AC Health app, therapists can upload playbooks and videos for at-home therapy exercises. Patients can then refer to these resources and reach out to their therapist with questions if needed.

7. Social Media Networks

Senior citizens crave social interaction. Many experience increasing feelings of isolation as they age. Mental health and mindsets both play important roles in a patient’s physical health, so social isolation can negatively impact health.

Social media offers a solution to the elderly’s need for human interaction. These days, there are many senior-friendly alternatives to widespread social media platforms like Facebook. These senior-friendly platforms facilitate discussion among similar age groups and can include games, articles, and chat boards. Some sites also allow the creation of separate social networks to connect with family members. Such senior-centric social platforms are necessary due to privacy issues, commercialization, and complicated functionalities.

Health care is a rapidly expanding field. There are many benefits to introducing this service into your physical therapy clinic. There are also many technologies that can facilitate home health care. What are your thoughts on this practice? Have you already incorporated home health care into your clinic’s service model?