May 17, 2014

Portions of this post are taken from work done by Design News Daily and Mr. Rob Spiegel.
There is no doubt the United States is experiencing an “aging” process due to baby boomers coming of age. Boomers are people born during the demographic between the years 1946 and 1964 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The term “baby boomer” is also used in a cultural context consequently it is impossible to achieve broad consensus of a precise date definition, even within a given territory.
As a group, they are the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were also the generation that received peak levels of income, therefore they could reap the benefits of abundant levels of food, apparel, retirement programs, and sometimes even “midlife crisis” products. The increased consumerism for this generation has been regularly criticized as excessive.
One feature of the boomers was that they tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before. In the 1960s, as the relatively large numbers of young people became teenagers and young adults, they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort, and the change they were bringing about. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon.
Now that the baby boomer generation is moving into its fifth, sixth and even seventh generation continued medical care becomes a definite must. Looking at the challenges, we find the following:
CHALLENGES: Connecting medical devices saves money, streamlines care and saves lives.
• Connecting medical devices saves money, streamlines care and saves lives.
• 76% of the nurses surveyed say current nursing shortages increases their patient load considerably.
• 74% say it definitely decreases time spent with individual patients.
• 64% say it decreases quality time spent with patient care.
• 40% of those in charge of IT within a medical facility indicate integration of medical devices with internet capability will move the profession to the next level and greatly improve patient care.
• 90% felt this integration is critical.
• Over $20 billion has been allocated by the Federal Government to aid development of robust IT infrastructure for healthcare.
• By networking patient care devices, a fifty (50) bed facility can save $ 323,446.00 annually or $886.00 per day.
• 58% of hospitals are moving quickly to have data-capture devices, i.e. wireless devices available and in use over the next one to five years.
Let’s now look at the benefits of having the use of such devices in a medical facility.
• Reduced costs
• Saving time and improve the quality of care
• Increased efficiency
• Having access to real-time data from remote locations
• Easier access for monitoring and support
• Consolidation of operations
• Shorter hospital stays
• A decrease in readmission rates
• Possible reduction of doctors’ visits due to wireless technology
The report, “Home Health Technology Report – 2014,” reveals that worldwide revenue for home healthcare devices and services will rise to $12.6 billion in 2018, up from $5.7 billion in 2013. IHS notes that the home healthcare market consists of six distinct segments: 1.) independent living services, 2.) consumer medical devices, 3.) tele-health, 4.) personal emergency response systems (PERS), 5,) wearable technologies, and 6.) health gaming (games designed to improve health).
The report noted that home healthcare products will experience technology convergence that will make the devices richer in features. These products will see a blending of Internet connectivity, interoperability with other devices, big data analytics, miniaturization, and wearable technology. This has already occurred to some extent with mobile PERS devices, which are able to act as gateway devices for tele-health, or activity monitors with optical heart-rate sensors.
Healthcare IT vendors are developing highly connected and interoperable solutions taking advantage of patient-generated data to support the decision-making process of healthcare professionals, and to create the inevitable bridge between clinical care and home health.
The report noted that the quantity of patient-generated data will grow exponentially with the increasing use of home health technologies. Big data in healthcare will determine the success of population health management, which is essential to the business model of accountable-care organizations and their objective of providing value-based care.
Home-based medical devices have just begun a major makeover in capability as well as deployment. “Home health devices have existed for a while. However, over the past couple of years they have changed substantially,” Roeen Roashan, medical devices and digital health analyst at IHS and author of the report, indicated. “Devices today are more connected and interoperable, which means that they are able to connect to the Internet but also to other devices such as smart-phones and tablets.”
If we are looking at the future of medical technology, we must include “smart” devices with Internet connections as a part of the overall “mix”.


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