Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New technology enables "virtual doctor visits" for homebound

The Health Section of the Washington Post this morning (Tuesday Nov. 17) has a bit story by Elizabeth G. Olson from Kaiser Health News, “The virtual doctor visit: New technology is helping elderly patients and those with chronic diseases monitor their condition from the comfort of home”. The link is here.

We’ve talked about Life Alert and similar products for out-of-town caregivers to monitor elderly parents, but this allows nurses, home health providers, and even caregivers themselves to monitor medical information like blood pressure or oxygen from a distance. One problem is that Medicare may not cover this service unless (sometimes) the client is legally defined as “homebound”, which means that the client cannot normally leave home with a lot of assistance and does not leave home frequently. Of course, the client must be able to comply with the instructions in using the devices, sometimes when alone.

There is a psychological question: does the client feel overwhelmed by the constant monitoring?

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