All of the pieces are on the table and the puzzle is ready to be constructed. Healthcare for our seniors can now take a giant step forward to help improve outcomes, reduce hospitalizations, lower costs and reduce caregiver burden.
The puzzle usually starts with the corners. The first corner being the mandate from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that seniors have access to their entire health records on demand. Seema Verma, the former Head of CMS, stated:
“Data belongs to Patients. Period.”
With complete health records on hand, seniors can learn more about their conditions and medications and take a proactive approach in maintaining their health.
The second corner is technology. Significant advances in both hardware and software provide invaluable data for care providers. Bluetooth-connected devices can monitor blood sugars, heart rate, activity levels, and even EKG. This paired with ADL systems monitoring nutrition and mental status means that health professionals have an accurate look at exactly what is happening with a patient, in real-time. Proactive notifications for a check-in can be sent if vitals go out of range.
The third corner is the increased adoption of telemedicine. This care vector was slowly gaining traction before COVID-19, but the pandemic has pushed it front and center. CMS has loosened regulations and billing requirements and now this important mode of care is being used not only to triage patients in lieu of an ER visit, but also to keep seniors safe in their homes from a potential COVID-19 infection.
Rounding out the puzzle corners is the collaboration opportunity for seniors, caregivers, advocates, children, and providers. With the technology now available, all of the stakeholders in the care process can stay informed, participate and collaborate in the healthcare process. Children can keep up to date and participate in telemedicine visits. Providers can see the complete health record along with current vitals and caregivers can finally get a break from the heavy burden of taking care of an aging senior.
It’s somewhat frustrating to see all of the pieces just waiting on the table when a beautiful picture is waiting to be revealed. However, it is also truly exciting to know that all of the pieces are finally there just waiting to be assembled. It is often easier and more satisfying to complete a puzzle with others and in this case, a group effort will help complete the picture in a shorter amount of time and drastically improve how we care for our most vulnerable citizens.