A common misconception is that the terms “telemedicine,” “telecare” and “telehealth” are interchangeable. Each of these terms refers to a different way of administering health care using existing technologies or a different area of medical technology. New healthcare technologies are important for the general population’s health, but secure storage of digitally accessed patient data and patient records is needed to prevent security breaches.
Telecare is the term that we are concentrating on today. This relates to technology that enables patients to maintain their independence and safety while continuing to live in their own homes. Telecare’s technology consists of mobile monitoring devices, medical alert systems and telecommunication tech, such as computers and telephones. Around-the-clock remote monitoring of patients enables telecare to track any lifestyle changes over time. It also allows for alerts relating to real-time emergencies.
The term “telecare” is most often used when referring to remote care of elderly people and those who are physically less able. It provides much-needed care, compassion and reassurance to this population and gives them the confidence to remain in their own homes. With the global population aging, telecare will make life easier and safer for patients and their loved ones.
Telecare in Practice
What exactly is telecare? It may be something as simple as a home or cell phone connection to a command center that monitors those with illnesses or those who may be at risk of collapsing or falling in their home. It might also send an alert if a person who shouldn’t be leaving the house does go outside (i.e., Alzheimer’s or dementia patients). An activated sensor sends a radio signal to a control unit in the home, which calls a monitoring center with trained attendants standing by to take necessary action or make notification.
Other telecare services offered today include pendant alarms, pill dispensers, movement monitoring, mobile care phone systems and many more. Additionally, there are more technologically advanced and elaborate systems using sensors and monitors to track numerous household risks. These include disasters such as floods, fires, faulty air-conditioning or heat, gas leaks and more.
Telecare also prevents patients from being confined to the home. Traveling to the store, movies, restaurants or the mall with cutting-edge technology allows mobile devices with “Roaming SIMS” to keep the person in need connected to a monitoring center.
What About Healthcare Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain was originally developed as a way to facilitate the trade of digital currency, such as Bitcoin. But it’s now being used in all realms, especially when it comes to sensitive health data. It can be used to make a health system that’s more secure and smart all along the supply chain, ensuring that the healthcare industry adjusts to the digital era while remaining HIPAA-compliant.
In practice, blockchain is helping telecare scale rapidly. With the blockchain network’s secure distributed data sharing—which uses open source technology to maintain endless records and share information amongst many differing entities—remote telecare can provide more services in a way that’s better, faster and cheaper.
Identity verification, patient management, insurance payments, competitive pricing for services, data access and sharing are just some of the many ways a blockchain system can assist healthcare organizations. This is very much the case with telecare. Importantly, it can safeguard a patient’s private healthcare data, keeping network participants safe.
Storing personal health information, medical data and electronic medical records on the blockchain will connect a remote patient with their lab, pharmacy, doctor, nursing staff and caregivers. These entities will in turn be able to instantly access the patient’s blood pressure, sugar counts, vital statistics, food intake and more.
Remote telecare with blockchain behind it will allow families to truly feel more comfortable and at ease about their elderly or ill relatives living alone many miles from them. It will allow these families who are distanced to remain virtually together.