A combination of network-enabled monitoring devices, video streams and remotely-connected care workers could help to tackle the rising burden of elderly care.
In a talk at London’s Internet World 2014, Cisco UK and Ireland chief technology officer Ian Foddering explained how a combination of the Internet of Things, data processes and people, which he dubbed the Internet of Everything, could be used to taking elderly care, reducing hospital visits and increasing home treatment.
Foddering highlighted how operations on over 65s had risen by 60% in the UK over the past decade, with accident and emergency visits for the age group increasing by 55% over the same period.
As with many westernised countries the UK is also facing the prospect of a boom in the elderly population, with Foddering saying that by 2020 there will be 19 million people in the country over 65.
“I believe technology can be used to address these problems,” he said.
He described how Cisco had trialled the use of network-enabled monitoring devices in care homes to reduce the need for hospital visits.
If a resident needed medical assistance, they were connected to a remotely located healthcare professional, with healthcare staff available on the service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“As a result they were able to drastically reduce the time patients spent in hospital,” explained Foddering.
He argued that using technology to provide home treatment has a significant effect both on patients and health resources.
“Being able to stem and treat at source those individuals rather than come into hospital can have a huge impact,” he said.
Home treatment technology is increasingly being explored for a wide variety of medical applications, including home blood testing, doctor’s visits and even medical marijuana consultations.
Networked medical devices may also prove life-saving in some circumstances, particularly where time is of the essence.
Foddering cited a pilot involving head trauma patients, where treatment in the “golden hour” immediately after injury is vital to recovery.
He described how paramedics were provided with technology to connect the patient to the hospital to provide real-time information to the hospital while the patient travels there.
This can improve the chances of treatment success because it provides the hospital with clear and detailed information about the patient’s condition so they are prepared upon arrival. Normally, this information would have to be provided once the patient arrived, eating into the value golden hour.
Body image 2 courtesy of Markus Spiering via Flickr/Creative Commons.
Body image 2 courtesy of pix.plz via Flick/Creative Commons.