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Remote Monitoring News

Could Remote Home Monitoring Prevent Falls Among the Elderly?

By Vera Gruessner

- The remote home monitoring market is expanding as new technologies become available for tracking patients’ vital signs and medical conditions. Wearable devices and fitness trackers are at the top of the healthy lifestyle mobile tools arena with smart watches gaining a fair amount of publicity since its release. Remote home monitoring systems could play a large role in preventing more serious health concerns, reducing healthcare costs, and even improving health outcomes across patient communities.

Remote Monitoring Technology

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported on an elderly living community center that implemented wireless remote home monitoring systems to oversee the residents’ vital signs and their potential risk of falling. The platform was initially developed by a team from the University of Missouri.

This particular remote home monitoring technology is slowly making its way throughout Missouri in assisted living centers as well as hospitals. Marilyn Rantz, professor emeritus with the School of Nursing, and Marjorie Skubic, a professor with MU’s College of Engineering, are the team leaders who have worked toward developing the remote monitoring technology.

A fall among the elderly can have huge implications on their future health, as their skeletal system is often more brittle and takes longer to heal. Rantz’s mother suffered a fall that led to some severe consequences, the Tribune stated.

“If my mother’s risk of falling — if we had known that it was going up — we would have known weeks before that there were changes going on,” Rantz said. “She fell, was on the floor for eight hours, and her health declined.”

The remote home monitoring sensors can actually pick up whether a patient is undergoing important changes in their overall health before the elderly actually feel sick. The system can help track a variety of conditions and has even identified pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and upper-respiratory infections. Additionally, the remote home monitoring technology is able to detect variations in diabetes, congestive heart failure, and lung disease.

“We can actually detect illnesses 10 days, two weeks, sometimes even longer before the resident would typically complain,” Rantz said. “It gives the nurse a heads up that something’s not right with that person.”

These types of remote monitoring platforms are already revolutionizing healthcare services throughout hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and clinics. Additionally, sensors that are being built into clothing and fabrics could be key to strengthening the remote monitoring market, according to The Guardian.

Essentially, the remote home monitoring market will help reduce the likelihood of hospital admissions and allow patients to live fuller lives at home or in assisted living facilities. Wearable sensors could alert doctors to a patient’s high blood pressure or rising heart rate, which would bring healthcare professionals to the patient’s home and ensure their health is quickly stabilized.

Remote home monitoring tools may help doctors develop more customized recovery plans after an illness passes as well as offer pharmaceuticals data on how their drugs are performing outside of hospitals.

“Textile circuit printing has been successfully demonstrated on a variety of materials including cotton, polyester and linen. Cotton has proven especially successful, and shown little deterioration after 100 washes,” The Guardian discussed the future of wearable remote monitoring sensors. “The next step is to further develop the chemical deposition process on materials other than cotton. Then we need to scale up the process, which is likely to be through a commercial partnership. With the right interest, this technology could be employed in the healthcare profession within three to five years.”

As the healthcare industry goes on to adopt new and innovative systems, remote home monitoring platforms will continue paving the way for better medical care, reduced costs, and improved health outcomes.

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