We are seeing more and more evidence as to the impact that the world's rapidly ageing population will have on health and social systems around the globe. In the next decade the senior (over 60) population is forecast to grow 56 percent faster than the global population. As a result, countries across the world are grappling with how to efficiently maintain quality of care with shrinking resources.
This is particularly worrying considering the BBC's recent analysis of the Care Quality Commission findings that care homes are closing at an alarming rate in the UK. Although, this is perhaps not surprising considering the cost of caring for an elderly person in a nursing home can be more than five times the cost of providing in-home care.
An AI-first world doesn't have to exclude healthcare, advances in technology can help to reduce the UK's bill for elderly care. Embracing the internet of things (IoT), smart devices, and cloud based technologies, which can alleviate the pressures on councils, and help combat the impact of the forever growing ageing population. These advanced technologies have a vital role to play in meaning patients, health professionals and families can stay connected at all times and in real-time. While simultaneously both improving standards of elderly care, and enabling them to stay in their own homes for longer.
The always-on, connected world makes the difference between seniors being able to stay in their home and having to make the move to assisted living. Especially in the age of the IoT, where smart devices are connected via the web to ensure a seamless transfer of information and automation of processes. Examples of how care can be revolutionised include:
The smart home
Advancements in automated home technologies make it much easier to carry out daily tasks. This includes smart fridges that can automatically order basic grocery items, or smart medicine cabinets that can provide the elderly with their daily pills. As well as mobile device or timer controlled curtains, lights, motion sensors, fall alarms, and out-of-bed detectors etc.
Remote access and communication
With mobile-first applications, family members or home-care workers can check from a distance that an elderly patient is taking the right medication, or pass instructions to a partner or neighbour on how to administer medication. Video care capabilities can also help, making it easier for healthcare professionals to give instant diagnosis or remote assistance. Or providing those who are housebound or less mobile the ability to connect with a home-care worker, a psychologist, a doctor, or a family member to alleviate loneliness.
For healthcare professionals, real-time, dynamic, scheduling systems help to organise home visits and reduce time spent travelling between elderly patients by plotting the most effective route based on travel conditions and patient locations for ultimate efficiency. Or access to files (such as a full medical history) on any device at any time enables them to make immediate decisions. While safe access controls ensure a secure way to control who has access to a property should patients be unable to answer the door. This can also hook up to internal camera systems, reassuring and informing family members of who has entered the home and when.
All of these technologies dramatically enhance an elderly person's quality of life and ability to live independently. While also giving volunteers, caregivers, professionals, and response centres joined up, seamless communications, and patient information, which means elderly people can stay in their homes and remain independent for longer. This delivers the healthcare industry a cost-effective, scalable, secure and highly efficient way to provide more personalised and reliable communications - potentially saving the UK government millions of pounds every year. This is already a reality in The Netherlands, where we provide services for 10,000 eldercare patients in their own homes with a combination of tools mentioned above.
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