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Enhancing Efficiency and Quality of Ambulatory Care Through Telehealth Technology

Prince, Thomas R. PhD; Croghan, John E. MD; Sheridan, Phillip H. Jr MD, MBA; Weatherly, Jonathan D. MBA

Journal of Ambulatory Care Management: July-September 2005 - Volume 28 - Issue 3 - p 222–229
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Technology has made great strides in healthcare, but has been slow in reaching a Senior's home or residence. At 35 million and growing, the Senior population is making it known that home is where they want to stay. Technology advancements in devices, communications, and wireless capability are now making possible the delivery of customized telehealth solutions to provide Seniors with “enabled independence,” allowing them to confidently “age in place” at home or residence for much longer, with improved health outcomes and quality of life. Combined with traditional ambulatory care services, integrating telehealth technology services now allows delivery of “virtual assisted living” services at home that can more efficiently meet Senior health requirements, and can simplify other aspects of a Senior's life that can play a role in extending time at home. To be successful, an integrated service must be able to usefully address a range of activities of daily living—instrumental activities of daily living, and enhanced activities of daily living—requirements. Already proven in other areas such as radiology, intensive care units, prisons, and rural communities, companies are working to develop practical telehealth service offerings designed for the home or residence. These services must be (a) packaged to meet individual Senior needs and (b) reviewed and revised regularly to match changes in Senior requirements over time. A core element of this service is the use of regular “virtual visits” between healthcare professionals and a Senior at home or residence, which have been shown to both increase efficiency and Senior health outcomes. Another important element is centralizing key data from the telehealth technology into a single database to improve information delivered to a Senior's doctor, family, and other ambulatory care providers. North Shore eCare and other companies are conducting extensive market tests and pilot efforts to make sure service offerings meet Senior needs, and can be delivered cost-effectively.

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill (Dr Prince); North Shore eCare, Wilmette, Ill (Drs Croghan and Sheridan and Mr Weatherly); Sheridan Road Medical Associates, Wilmette, Ill (Dr Croghan); and Pulmonary Medicine Associates of Melrose Park, Ill (Dr Sheridan).

Corresponding author: Thomas R. Prince, PhD, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Donald P. Jacobs Center, Room 6233, 2001 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208 (e-mail: t-prince@kellogg.northwestern.edu).

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.