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The age of e-health

Telstra News

Posted on May 7, 2015

3 min read

When I first started working at Telstra Health almost two years, reducing hospital admissions was one of the six big opportunities identified as being able make a difference to healthcare in Australia.

Recent reports on hospital admission trends in Australia show that average annual hospital admissions growth is double the average population growth rate. Why? – the population getting older and the rise of chronic illness such as diabetes and heart disease are key factors.

In addition to the increasing number of admissions, up to 20% of people aged 65 or older are readmitted to hospital within a month of leaving. I believe that there are a number of reasons as to why this happens – including for example, the change in the availability of care between the hospital (where there are multiple nurses and other clinicians at hand) and the patient’s home (where the “immediate” medical support is no longer there). At the same time, a patient’s condition doesn’t change very much from their last day in hospital to their first day at home.

That’s one of the things that I like most about the MyCareManager home health monitoring product we launched last month. Through a combination of video conferencing, telemedicine and a patient portal, people are able to stay in their own home while receiving the care they need.

Client conditions are monitored through wireless and blue tooth enabled devices including glucometers, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters and spirometers. Carers can monitor a number of vital signs, get real time information and alerts on any changes or out of range readings and intervene early to help reduce the need for hospital admission.

It also allows for patients and their families to be more involved in the patient’s care; for example, they can see when appointments are scheduled, view patient care management plans and see how the recovery is progressing for both illness and injury. . This is important for more than just curiosity; an engaged patient is actually 54% less likely to be readmitted within 30 days of leaving hospital.

The fact that the solution works on any tablet or mobile device can also provides social benefits; video conferencing with family members and carers/clinicians means more face to face communication, while a provider can also enable Internet and social media connectivity on the device so that a patient can connect with the broader world.

I believe that a solution like this brings with it many wider benefits too; the cost savings of keeping people out of hospitals is a big one, but this solution could also lead to community nurses spending less time driving and more time caring for clients, there is decreased likelihood of secondary infection, a better chance of a good night sleep in your own bed and people are more likely to be surrounded by your family and friends.

In addition, we’ve built this product so that it can be easily adjusted for any future technologies, such as sensor monitors to detect falls or send an alert if the fridge is not opened for instance, indicating that a person may not be eating.

Video conferencing, patient portals and telemonitoring are not unique solutions. What I think is unique is what Telstra Health is delivering; an integrated solution that combines all the required technology into one product, developed in conjunction with care providers to meet their needs and their clients needs. This is our strategy for all our products and is why we’ve acquired, partnered or joint ventured with leading eHealth companies and worked with the healthcare sector to understand their needs.