Falls lead to 32,000 deaths annually among older U.S. adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that one American senior falls every second.
While hospitals have long employed a number of measures designed to prevent falls among inpatients, Louisiana-based Ochsner Health is working to reduce this deadly toll through remote-patient monitoring programs that track falls among older adults wherever they are.
Even if a patient goes for a walk, their progress can be monitored, according to Richard Milani, MD, chief clinical transformation officer at Ochsner Health, which is a member of the AMA Health System Program that provides enterprise solutions to equip leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.
“There's lots of little subtleties that we can do in terms of collecting information and responding to information by virtue of these type of technologies,” Dr. Milani said during an episode of “AMA Update.”
Falls are a big problem, but not enough is done to specifically address the issue of falls among older adults at home. Remote technology can track who's doing what, who's getting better and who needs attention, while identifying populations at high risk, said Dr. Milani (@rvmilani).
Ochsner currently has two types of products to monitor falls. Connected Home is a smart in-home network that monitors gait in patients to see if they’re getting worse or improving. The goal is to promote independence for aging adults. Connected Health Alert uses a built-in Apple Watch app to track falls in real time, providing around the clock support from emergency and nonemergency responders.
Ochsner also uses remote monitoring in its chronic disease programs for hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and dyslipidemia.
Learn more with the AMA Remote Patient Monitoring Implementation Playbook.
Any health system that wants to establish this type of infrastructure needs a platform to capture the information, Dr. Milani said, noting that “either you're going to go out and create a platform or buy one.”
The good news is many EHR vendors are starting to provide this type of infrastructure.
Creating your own platform can be expensive, “but you can take advantage of the EMRs hopefully over the next few years to be able to do that for you,” he said.
Looking five years ahead, Dr. Milani envisions that more health systems will be adopting technologies that enable them to respond in the moment to patient concerns.
As technologies continue to improve, “our abilities to identify populations with a problem are going to be real. And we're going to not have to wait on them to figure it out. We should be able to help figure it out for them and respond in the moment,” said Dr. Milani.
Health systems should be thinking of ways to capture this information and process it in a way that doesn’t burden the system but takes care of people they’re responsible for, Dr. Milani said.
Remote-patient monitoring might even help with physician burnout, unloading some of the day-to-day tasks they face, he added. Ochsner Health’s own efforts to improve doctors’ well-being have earned the system gold level in the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program.
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