Transforming Healthcare at Home: The Power and Promise of Telehealth

By Meir Naiman, CTO, Emerest

Telehealth has rapidly emerged as a cornerstone of modern healthcare. With today’s technology, reaching a practitioner is as easy as clicking a button. However, looking beyond the surface level, there is a greater function of telehealth other than connecting patients to healthcare professionals.

With nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older considered to be socially isolated, according to the CDC, it is important to pay attention to the ongoing loneliness epidemic and the impact that telehealth can have on our most vulnerable communities, the homebound and elderly. In the face of frequent budgetary challenges within the homecare industry, strategic utilization of technology has the power to revolutionize the way we connect with individuals and deliver care. By leveraging technology, we can not only mitigate the negative impacts of the loneliness epidemic but also elevate the standard of care and well-being, ultimately lowering hospital admission rates and saving millions of dollars across the health spectrum.

Navigating Homecare in the Digital Era

The impact of telehealth on the healthcare industry has been significant, particularly in addressing the challenges faced by homebound individuals. However, to effectively tackle the loneliness epidemic within this community, it’s crucial to rethink how we approach telehealth.

Beyond its conventional role of connecting patients with healthcare providers, telehealth holds promise in addressing chronic social and behavioral health issues. Digital innovations are emerging to complement traditional telehealth methods, offering a more holistic approach to well-being from the comfort of one’s home.

Telehealth isn’t solely about providing access and ensuring efficiency; it’s about fostering genuine connections and enhancing the quality of life for patients.

By harnessing sophisticated data analytics and machine learning, telehealth providers can personalize care plans for individual patients and create virtual communities of patient-patient groups based on shared social determinants of health. We’ve seen technology quickly and easily provide advanced algorithms that can group patients based on clinical data and personal backgrounds, creating opportunities for meaningful connections – including shared learning, personal counsel, and emotional support – among peers facing similar challenges. For a patient population that is often isolated from conventional networks of care, whether it is access to professionals or remoteness from friends and family, this extended platform of engagement is vital for mitigating chronic loneliness and depression.

At Emerest Connect, we’ve found a way to create meaningful, educational, and engaging content that best suits the preferences of our patient population. We recently created a two-way TV studio, giving homebound and elderly patients access to expert health counsel and peer-peer interaction in a format that is familiar and comfortable for them: just like they may turn on the TV to watch the local news, they are tuning into fun and engaging programming that teaches them how to eat better or find more exercise in their day-day.

The important takeaway is that technological advancement in the health space has to be patient-centric. A new platform is only innovative if the end-user enjoys its full benefits.

Challenges in Telehealth for the Homebound

Introducing new digital innovative approaches often comes with its fair share of challenges, particularly in ensuring seamless implementation and garnering commitment to the program. In our process of making sure the homebound and elderly receive the best care regardless of location, we understand the importance of addressing these hurdles head-on.

Catering to an older demographic, which may be less familiar with technology, often presents a unique challenge. Many patients are initially hesitant to embrace remote access programs as their primary method of treatment. However, we have approached this challenge with careful consideration for user experience. Recognizing that most of our clients prefer care in the comfort of their own homes, providers should look to create technology designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. As a measure to fix this, the implementation of user-friendly interfaces provides comprehensive support to guide patients through the transition to remote access programs. This approach alleviates concerns and empowers patients to engage with growing digital solutions confidently.

The Future of Telehealth

Within the homecare environment, telehealth possesses the transformative potential to redefine a patient’s journey, transcending mere convenience. However, we must look to the future and the ability to continue using telehealth to create genuine, lasting connections. At Emerest Connect, we’ve seen success with our overall holistic approach to telehealth and the incorporation of a TV studio, but what does the future of telehealth look like?

Just as technology rapidly advances, so do the users that tech providers serve. As we usher in a new wave of homebound patients exposed to streaming platforms and a variety of multimedia, telehealth must continue to adapt and evolve. Though there is no direct solution yet, we are aware that there are exciting new opportunities to be created within homebound telehealth that embrace the intersection of technology, social determinants of health, and holistic well-being. Digital innovations have been developed to tackle present challenges, and now, our focus shifts to refining and adapting them to meet the needs of tomorrow.

Telehealth isn’t solely about providing access and ensuring efficiency; it’s about fostering genuine connections and enhancing the quality of life for patients. As we navigate the dynamic terrain of healthcare, our dedication remains clear: leveraging technology to deliver comprehensive and compassionate care to those who need it most.