SIMPLE TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER TELEHEALTH IN THE HOME
Flinders University is trialling the remote provision of palliative care, aged care and rehabilitation therapies for older people under its Telehealth in the Home project. In addition to a research focus on enhancing clinical services, the project is investigating how consumer-grade technologies such as iPads and the Fitbit device can be used to deliver care into the home.
KATE MCDONALD Journalist: Pulse+IT email@example.com
Flinders University’s Telehealth in the Home project was one of the successful bidders for the Telehealth Pilots Program, announced in 2013. Originally designed to test how the NBN could facilitate telehealth, the program has since been expanded to allow the use of other broadband access technologies such as 3G and ADSL.
One of the main focuses of the Flinders trial is how to effectively deliver telehealth using consumer-grade technologies. According to project manager Alan Taylor, the home is a very different environment than a healthcare facility, and healthcare providers wishing to provide that care will have to confront the use of consumer technologies.
Flinders University’s project, which is being run in conjunction with the Repatriation General Hospital and several specialist clinical networks, is investigating how to use online technologies to support aged and palliative care patients in the community. It also aims to evaluate the effectiveness of providing care remotely to overcome the issue of long travel times for therapists and nurses who visit patients at home.
“You need to give people something that is readily available, and we envisage technology moving in such a way that they will be doing it on their own iPads and over their own broadband plans, so we are testing whether consumer-grade technology is clinically adequate to deliver the services we want,” Mr Taylor says.
While this is relatively new for South Australia, there are a number of other projects currently being conducted around Australia into the effectiveness of telehealth in the home, many using high-tech devices that combine video conferencing with measurements of blood pressure, blood glucose levels and the like. However, one of the issues confronted when using these devices is their high cost, leading to questions about whether these services are financially sustainable.
iPads and Fitbits Flinders is leading the project in partnership with the SA Rehabilitation Statewide Clinical Network, the SA Older People Clinical Network and the SA Palliative Care Clinical Network. It uses a team approach that encompasses the patients’ carers, aged care facilities and specialist services along with GPs and other primary healthcare providers. The project aims to recruit up to 150 patients in the southern Adelaide region, most of whom will have received care at
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