Telecare has become an increasingly popular term since even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Though it’s often conflated with telewellness and telehealth, they’re distinct entities, all that work together to improve individuals’ quality of life using technology.
This article breaks down what telecare is, how it works, who could benefit from it, and how it's impacting the healthcare industry.
What is telecare and how does it work?
Telecare is a system that connects people to professional healthcare providers. This is done through a mix of digital solutions, such as live streaming, texting, email, and others. Telecare (also sometimes referred to as “home telehealth” or "mobile care" ) can help individuals maintain independence and avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, as well as keep them connected with family and friends.
The word "tele" refers to distance, while "care" means providing support or assistance. Telecare combines these words into one concept of providing care remotely through digital communication.
Remote monitoring: This is the use of electronic devices to monitor and respond to a person's needs. This may be as simple as using a sensor, or it can include sophisticated video cameras that allow for remote monitoring by healthcare providers. Some complex systems can even identify changes in activity patterns, or GPS-enabled watches that allow caregivers to track senior's movements throughout the day.
Emergency response: Alarm systems can alert authorities or healthcare services if a patient has an issue. This could be a sensor mat that detects falls on the floor or a button device.
Medication adherence reminders: Sending automated messages to patients can help them stay on track with their medication or other health-related schedules.
Video conferencing: This would be digital tablets so seniors can make video calls from home to their care providers, or for full doctor’s appointments, all via live streaming.
Communication buttons: There are communication buttons on wheelchairs and other daily devices that let loved ones know they need assistance.
Benefits of telecare
There are many benefits to incorporating telecare into your or your loved ones lives:
Peace of mind: These technologies provide peace of mind to the caregivers, those in need of care, and all family members involved.
Efficiency: Care workers receive automated help from technology, allowing them to focus on important issues at hand, and patients don’t have to worry about getting to doctor’s appointments across town.
Maintain independence: With telecare support, older adults can live at home longer because they’re not relying on full-time staff help. Plus, consistent monitoring can slow down the process of needing this help at all.
Affordability: Besides avoiding unnecessary and expensive hospital visits, telecare-augmented support can help be more affordable due to a heavier focus on technology.
Common Telecare Questions
Let's learn all there is to know about telecare!
Why should I choose a home care provider who offers telecare services?
Telehealth providers offer virtual healthcare solutions that allow your loved one to manage their chronic condition from the comfort of home, without having to depend on busy friends and family.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that senior center executives consider implementing telecare services to improve quality outcomes. With more continuous—while also more efficient—monitoring, organizations that use telecare can see reduced falls, fewer emergency room visits, increased socialization opportunities, and less depression among seniors who are feeling isolated or lonely.
Plus, home care providers that offer telecare services can be more affordable, and can save your loved ones from expensive doctor’s visits, as well as can help prevent health issues from happening in the first place.
How can I be more independent with the help of telecare technology?
This inherently provides more options for older adults as they age, since they can stay living at home, instead of moving to families or assisted living homes. Plus, remote care provides peace-of-mind for family members that live far away from their loved ones who need care.
Telecare offers senior center executives multiple benefits including better care for their residents while freeing up time and money that would otherwise go towards hiring more staff members. These technologies provide more flexibility and increased efficiency, with less one-on-one staff time needed.
Automated reminders, video calls with doctors, and other telecare options allow for more continuous care for residents without relying on overworked staff, in-person doctor appointments, and other costly items.
And again, it provides peace of mind for residents’ families, since they know that if anything happens, you’ll be there right away to support their loved ones.
Telecare vs. telehealth vs. telewellness vs. telemedicine
As we covered, telecare is a system that integrates technology with the home to provide care for seniors and other vulnerable populations. Telecare is the use of communication technology to provide remote care support from a distance. Unlike telehealth and telemedicine, telecare is automatic, meaning patients can be continuously monitored for improvement or decline.
Telecare practices minimize health risks while allowing patients to continue living in their own homes. This is especially beneficial for older adults who are trying to keep independence as they age.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is different from telemedicine because, similar to telewellness, it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine or telecare. Telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services that aren’t necessarily medical applications, like provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education.
But, it can also include clinical services covered by telemedicine. Speaking of...
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is specifically the clinical application of technology while treating patients during clinical services. Health care professionals provide these services with electronic communications and software, rather than an in-person visit at an office or hospital. It might include sending meds by mail to patient’s homes, virtual therapy services, or even blood test analyses.
This can save time and travel for both the patients and the doctors, and can provide services to those that may otherwise find it challenging to access healthcare. Studies have shown telemedicine allows for better long-term care and increased patient satisfaction.
Telewellness is the technology that helps us support our overall wellness from home. This can include your physical health, mental health, and social health. It’s a more general term that encompasses other aspects of your health that might not be covered by telehealth, telemedicine, and telecare.
It's important to have a healthy lifestyle. But it can be hard for seniors, especially those with chronic medical conditions or in need of a little support. This is where telecare services come in handy!
Telecare is important for seniors because they can stay in their home environment and continue to receive care. The goal of telecare services is to extend care beyond the walls of medical facilities, help patients stay in their homes longer, and reduce hospitalizations.
A recent article in Forbes magazine suggests that telecare will be a major part of how healthcare evolves as more people live longer with chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease.
Now may be the time to start thinking about how technology such as remote monitoring can lower your costs while improving quality of life at home, in senior living organizations, and THIS.