What is community care?
Public health services in the community are called community care services. These services are normally provided by the national healthcare provider such as the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland or the NHS in the UK. Community care services can include public health nursing, home help, day care and respite care. Other community care services may include social workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropodists, speech therapists and dietitians.
Why is community care important for patients?
Community care plays an essential role in caring for patient. Community care is patient-centred rather than healthcare provider focused. It can influence health positively by providing a range of measures such as preventive care, continuity of care, chronic disease management, mental health support and better accessibility for patients.
Preventative care includes regular check-ups, health education and screening, to identify and treat any health issues early on. Continuity of care means consistent and coordinated care which increases patient treatment adherence and reduces errors in handover, overall increasing patient satisfaction. Patients with chronic conditions can be supported in their own community to manage their conditions effectively. Support systems can be put in place to help with mental health and social issues, helping to combat loneliness, stress and improve mental health.
Community care brings care closer to the patient, improving accessibility and reducing carbon emissions through reduced transportation. It reduces health inequity by providing access to health services for all socio economic groups.
Thus, community care provides timely care which can reduce the need for hospitalisation and visits to the emergency department. This lowers the cost of healthcare and eases the pressure on hospitals.
Why is community care important for healthcare providers?
For healthcare providers, community care is about preventive, equitable, and accessible healthcare to serve the community, improve health outcomes and reduce costs. By offering preventive care, healthcare providers help patients identify health conditions, reducing the load on the healthcare system and improving quality of life for the patient. Early intervention can mean reduced need for hospitalisation and expensive medical care. Community care can be effective in public disease outbreak and response to public health threats. Community engagement means healthcare providers can better understand factors that contribute to patient health and can help support effective healthcare strategies leading to better health outcomes overall. Community care offers a diverse range of experiences for the healthcare professional and can expand knowledge and enhance job satisfaction as a result.
What advances are being made in community care today?
Healthcare is a continuously evolving field with advances being made daily including in community care. As a result of the preventative outlook of community care, healthy habits and disease prevention are always promoted which improve well-being by its nature. Collaborative care models including social services, schools, local government and non-profit organisations help address the holistic side of patient wellbeing.
The advent of the Internet of Things and 4G/5G mobile networks has enabled healthcare communications to evolve rapidly in recent years. Technology has a huge role to play in advancing healthcare, including community healthcare, with telemedicine offering remote consultations and remote monitoring; and community engagement platforms offering educational resources and communication tools to encourage patient engagement in their own healthcare. Data analytics helps to identify health trends and risks as well as interventions for community needs.
Remote consultations can be scheduled online and virtual visits carried out online where appropriate. This increase the chances of the patient turning up and on time for the appointment as it is convenient to the patient, avoiding transportation costs and traffic and parking issues. In turn, telemedicine improves care accessibility and addresses some of the health equity issues in society.
Community health workers are being increasingly used to provide social and healthcare education, access, support and advocacy for patients in community settings. Virtual wards or home hospital, where the patient is monitored in their own home, is gaining momentum as a way to improve patient outcomes, increase patient and healthcare professional satisfaction and reduce pressure on hospitals and the healthcare system resources in general. Healthcare providers can utilise these advances to improve productivity with existing resources.
Patient monitoring devices are reducing in size and therefore mobility. Many people have wearable monitoring devices in the form of smart watches and phones for heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep duration, respiratory rate, skin temperature and blood oxygen saturation levels. More sophisticated clinical devices can accurately measure biometric values such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, glucose and more in continuous care as well as emergency situations. This data can be used to help people understand their symptoms and the effects their lifestyles, diet and exercise habits can have on their health. This empowers people to take care of their own help as well as providing valuable data to the healthcare provider for the long-term care of the patient.
How can technology further improve community care?
Technology could be further used to implement and maintain national electronic health record systems and interoperable health information systems, where patients could access and their own health history and information, as well as the healthcare provider caring for the patient. A community care worker could give better care with all the relevant patient information at their fingertips. Telemedicine and mobile health applications could be used to provide improved and efficient access to patients everywhere.
In fact, community care has commonality with technology as both aim to advance the needs of patients by improving access and equity, assisting with preventive care and early intervention to improve health outcomes. Technology can bring care coordination and improved communication tools to community workers, giving increased patient satisfaction and patient-centred healthcare delivery.
Technology works hand in hand with community care by helping achieve goals of improved patient outcomes by educating, monitoring and empowering patients. By fostering preventative care, collaboration, and patient engagement, community healthcare contributes to healthier societies and reduced healthcare disparities.
BlueEye Virtual Ward is an integrated turnkey platform from RedZinc, consisting of wearable sensors, video technology and software platform to monitor and deliver care to the patients at home.
Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss BlueEye virtual ward.
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