The following really interesting set of technologies have been got together to make a difference.
Voice-activated systems extend healthcare to patients' homes
By Ann Bednarz , Network World , 08/21/2008
Four months go by, on average, between scheduled checkups for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. A lot can happen between visits, and researchers at Boston Medical Center are pioneering ways to stay virtually connected with patients so that any healthcare issues can be addressed without delay.
The goal is to provide guidance and information when patients need it, during their daily lives and not just during scheduled doctor visits, says Robert Friedman, a physician and head of a team at Boston Medical Center that's developing telephone-based systems for delivering virtual care.
Go to the URL below to see an illustration of the way the system is linked together.
"What we're trying to do is catch problems earlier and then facilitate physicians and other health professionals to do something earlier," says Friedman, who is chief of the Medical Information Systems Unit at Boston Medical Center. "We're also educating people how to take care of themselves, encouraging them, monitoring what they do, and counseling them. There's a psychological and behavioral intervention component to it, too."
Using speech recognition and interactive voice response (IVR) technologies, Friedman and his team have developed automated applications that screen patients by emulating what a healthcare professional might do.
Patients dial the systems from their homes, or the systems make outbound calls (particularly if someone misses a virtual appointment). They're prompted to input information, such as their blood pressure or weight, using speech or keypads. They're also asked questions such as whether they are exercising, sticking to a diet and taking medication regularly. The system analyzes the data and provides patients with feedback and coaching, using digitized human speech or text-to-speech generators. It also alerts appropriate parties if there are signs of trouble or indications that someone's healthcare regimen needs to be modified.
"It's in real time, so someone is on the phone, taking their blood pressure or answering a question, and that's being reported to physicians or clinicians electronically," Friedman says.
Much more here:
It was also good to note the last paragraph of the article:
“Progress is being made, however. Boston Medical Center today is overseeing virtual healthcare projects around the world, including in Sweden, China and Australia. "This type of model will be a regular part of the healthcare system throughout the world," Friedman says. "The hardest thing to do is predict when."
The following is related.
Two ventures promise to bring video-enabled doctors' visits to more patients, but physician groups caution that most medical care requires in-person contact.
By Emily Berry and Pamela Lewis Dolan, AMNews staff. Sept. 1, 2008.
Seems doctors are always worried they might miss out on a consultation fee!
That so many technologies are now being integrated to assist with the care of people as they age is definitely a sign of the times. We all may need this stuff at some time in our lives!