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Remote Healthcare Monitoring:A Look at One Company’s Response to Concerns about Nursing Home Care

 
医療・介護 2011年8月23日

Rapid Access International, Inc.

 September 2009.

http://www.rapidaccess.com/

Healthcare and the Need for Self-Reliance

As N2Care Founder and CEO Ken Dupin was traveling the globe and conducting research for his PhD, he observed that many countries outside the United States do not particularly rely upon nursing homes for elderly care. Instead, discussions are often held and preparations are made to deal with elderly care within the family unit.

Outside the U.S., the burden of elderly care more often falls upon the children in a family. An older sibling, for example, may be relied upon to support the parents when the time comes. And it seems that they plan for this eventuality as a family and prepare for the responsibilities

In the US, less ownership of this problem is taken on by the larger family unit. This helps to explains the relatively high demand for nursing home care in the US. But, the demand stems at least as much from elderly persons themselves seeking options that enable their continued self reliance

This demand is further magnified by the fact that wealthy countries around the globe are dealing with aging populations and declining birthrates. The lack of human capital in the family is not just a result of customary differences with other countries. The older populations of the US and many other developed countries leave fewer or no children available to take care of the parents.

The bottom line is that self-reliance when it comes to one’s medical care is more and more a necessity than it is a luxury. And, with a burgeoning demand for more desirable solutions, we can expect to see a steady stream of new companies, services and technologies to meet the demand.

Remote Monitoring: The MEDcottage Solution

In an interview conducted with Susan Conn, Director of Operations for N2Care, Llc, we discussed an innovative and technological solution that her company has developed specifically to address the nursing home demand: MEDcottage.

MEDcottage is a small prefabricated ‘cottage’ that fits in the backyard of a person’s home. The unit, referenced as a “modular smart cottage”, is filled with high tech healthcare features such as monitoring of a person’s blood pressure, temperature, vitals, oxygen, and sugar. All of the information collected within the cottage is in turn updated to the Family Communications Center online so that the person’s condition can be monitored by both family and care givers on a real-time basis.

The idea is that greater independence is achieved for the resident, as well as for any concerned or otherwise responsible family members. With less intensive direct oversight from caregivers, as in a nursing home, the cost of care could be reduced. Or, at least the solution could provide an option that better balances the desire for independence with the need to dedicate one’s accumulated wealth for regular medical care.

The Nursing Home ‘Catch 22’

The demand for nursing home care may be high because of custom, wealth, and demographics, but each of these factors are also working against the status quo.

• According to Ken Dupin’s own research, the number one fear of retirees when it comes to nursing homes is that of isolation from their friends and from the people they love.

• The other primary fear is that one’s accumulated wealth over the course of their lifetime would go to pay for something that they resent.

• Demographic trends that would seem to increase demand for nursing home care are merely feeding a frenzy of activity among entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry to find solutions that also address the fears and resentment of current or would-be nursing home care buyers.

Demographics: The Primary Driver of Innovation

Ms. Conn and the team at N2Care consider their product as one of many that are meant to cater to “the birth of an aging nation”. There are 78 million baby boomers facing retirement in the U.S., and there will be an increasing number of products developed now and in the coming years to elevate their quality of life.

N2Care, Llc: One Company’s Plans to Meet Demand

MEDcottage is expected to debut in the spring of 2010, with the first prototype completed this fall. The company expects to roll out its first units in its home state of Virginia, and subsequently nationwide.

Initially it appears that there is no real competition for this product, and it remains to be seen whether or not this approach to remote monitoring will be a success; however, it does seem clear that remote monitoring in some form would go a long way in addressing the concerns of would-be buyers.

Although attention is currently placed on the MEDcottage, we asked Ms. Conn what if anything N2Care has done to address the remote monitoring demand from those who do not have access to a backyard, or who do not like the idea of living in a small modular cabin.

Ms. Conn told us that the company is currently working on a number of solutions, with MEDcottage being only the first of these poised to hit the market. In the future, they expect to offer the ability for one to outfit their own home for remote monitoring.

Customized retrofitting of homes and condominiums for remote healthcare monitoring would seem to address each of the concerns held by current and would-be nursing home care buyers. This company, and any potential competitors, will certainly be ones to watch. No doubt, the concerns are there, and demographics will only serve to magnify those concerns.

Key Terms/Trends:

• Remote Monitoring

• Demographics: Aging Populations and Declining Birthrates

• Self-Reliance

• Technological Innovation

• Baby Boomers

Other Resources:

N2Care, Llc/MEDcottage Website: http://www.medcottage.com/

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