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Making the Home Connected for Health

March 28, 2013

By  Fauzia Khan, MD, FCAP, Chief Medical Officer, Co-founder, Alere Analytics

Fauzia head shot_Crop

As the saying goes, home is where the heart is, and now more than ever, home is where the care begins.

Just last week, I had the privilege to blog about the “Connected Home” – or the connection between what’s happening with a patient in their own home and the health system – in HISTalk and to discuss how, with clinical decision support (CDS) capabilities, patients can take a more active role in their own care in the comfort of their homes.

As CMO and Co-founder of Alere Analytics, I have seen my colleagues and peers continually strive for a vision of connected health. For example, patient information in the hospital and ambulatory settings, which at one point was almost entirely siloed, is now becoming easily accessible through Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Personal Health Record (PHR) systems and sophisticated Health Information Exchanges (HIE). By embracing CDS and real time analytics, clinicians are empowered to develop the best treatment plans using intelligent and actionable information to improve care quality while reducing costs for each patient.

This change in care delivery is at the beginning stages; however the same approach can be applied to the home setting. And with the surge of mobile technologies, ubiquitous internet and smart devices, the boundaries between home, hospital and ambulatory and long-term care facilities will start to blur and merge.  Like many shifts in healthcare, changes won’t occur overnight. It will take time. Moving treatment closer to the individual closes crucial care gaps, provides greater visibility, and accelerates decisions that lead to better outcomes. Data, at the point-of-care, in the home should also be actionable, comprehensive, and increasingly accessible to patients and their care team. Whether that data is delivered through an HIE, EHR, or even smart device, patient data captured accurately and in real-time will enable the best healthcare decisions to be made.

The industry is already talking about the “Connected Home” and the concept is certainly within reach. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal story  demonstrated how the hospital-at-home concept is helping to take care of sick patients in the comfort of their homes. As the healthcare IT industry strives for more integrated technologies across systems, we need to also spend our resources on developing a connected home network that can provide evidence-based data and real-time alerts to providers, patients, physicians, and even network managers.

Once integration is achieved, the healthcare industry can focus its attention where it belongs—on better managing patients and populations.

Stethoscope and model house

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