No human is ageless—aging is our destiny. But as we age, immunity depreciates, and health affairs tend to get complex. But what happens when mobility becomes an issue or distance and connectivity pose a challenge? Fortunately, telehealth has emerged as a revolutionary solution for the elderly, enabling them to receive high-quality medical care remotely. With the aid of mobile device management, telehealth has turned caregiving services on its heels, improving patient experience and the lives of countless seniors worldwide across old-age homes.
In this blog, we explore how telehealth is being used to provide better care for our aging population and how mobile device management (MDM) plays a crucial role in ensuring the successful impact of telehealth on healthcare of the elderly.
New England Journal of Medicine defines telehealth as the delivery of healthcare, health education, and health information services via remote technologies.
|As per WHO1, globally, there will be approximately 1.4 billion people aged 60 years and above by 2030. By 2050, the number is expected to reach 2.1 billion.|
The importance of telehealth use cases gained widespread acknowledgment during the demanding global healthcare situation when COVID-19 was at its peak. Without remote technologies, the devastations of the pandemic could have been even worse. Remote technologies like telehealth and telemedicine in healthcare saved plenty of lives.
The healthcare industry has realized the value telehealth brings to the table. Thus, even with the pandemic largely gone, healthcare professionals and caregivers are increasingly emphasizing the need for telehealth services—especially for the elderly.
If we must pick one telling reason why telehealth is important and indispensable for the elderly, it has to be cost-effective convenience. For the geriatric population that requires constant medical attention but faces transportation and access barriers, telehealth is a blessing, available 24*7.
When the elderly need constant care and medical attention, it’s difficult for their younger family members. Therefore, many choose old-age homes and assisted living facilities where caregivers are readily available, and doctors can visit easily.
Modern caregiving facilities are equipped with many technology essentials like advanced beds, medical equipment, temperature control, etc. And, of course, they have access to the best of telehealth requisites. However, the challenge for tech staff in such setups lies in managing the devices of the inmates and caregivers.
Mobile device management offers the best remote features for healthcare tech facilitators to empower old-age homes and assisted living facilities via telehealth. In this section, we look deeper into how some native MDM features can assist these tech facilitators in unlocking the full potential of telehealth.
Tech facilitators of organizations that run multiple assisted living centers are often faced with the task of enrolling and deploying new devices, both for the patients and the caregivers. We’re talking about the elderly here, many of whom are patients with chronic conditions—no way you expect them to scan codes or follow email instructions. Even the caregivers may not have the time to do the same.
This is where an MDM solution comes into play. Most MDM software support Android Zero-touch, Windows Autopilot and Apple DEP enrolment, making devices ready for out-of-the-box use. Thus, geriatric care center devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) are ready to use after unboxing, with only a few permission screens required. There’s no need to worry about varying device needs and operating systems. An MDM software creates device profiles based on OS and device groups based on requirements and purposes for which the devices will be used.
A simplified device enrollment saves a lot of time for the entire staff of assisted living facilities so they can focus entirely on more important tasks. Another advantage of quick and easy enrollment is that devices are ready for telehealth apps and services in no time. Removing devices from profiles or retiring them is also as breezy with just a few clicks on the MDM dashboard.
Telehealth for the elderly involves one critical element—there’s no room for sluggishness. Yes, all telehealth apps and EHR (Electronic Health Records) software are available 24×7, but specialist doctors or wellness consultants may not necessarily be available round the clock. This means that all the inmate and caregiver devices must only run the telehealth, patient monitoring, EHR or specific in-house apps.
Caregivers are humans. Some of them are millennials too. That urge to check social media apps or play a game is understandable. But caregivers in assisted living tend to the elderly, some of whom may have conditions like Parkinson, Alzheimer, etc. Thus, negligence or distractions on behalf of caregivers can be fatal.
This brings us to the most important MDM feature in administering telehealth services in the old-age healthcare space—device lockdown. An MDM solution allows tech facilitators to lock devices securely in either single or multi-app mode, often called kiosk mode.
Locking down ensures that only locked apps run on these devices, be it caregiver or inmate devices. For the elderly, the lockdown feature guarantees that they don’t struggle with the device if they accidentally touch any point of the screen. Only the locked app or apps are visible on the device screen in kiosk mode. No other swipe or tap can function. This allows for seamless, uninterrupted telehealth services on inmate devices.
From a caregiver’s standpoint, locked devices eliminate any unwanted distractions from the job. Caregivers cannot access anything outside the purview of the applied kiosk mode. Thus, they don’t miss out on crucial in-app telehealth notifications or check-up updates on their devices. It keeps the productivity bar high and puts the chances of negligence during an emergency to rest.
|Scalefusion MDM Case in Point:|
|A Europe-based institute for the specially-abled and geriatric uses Scalefusion MDM to lock its inmates’ Android tablets to just a few apps. Thus, they can use the tablets only to call their family members and play some games that enhance cognizance.|
Tech staff of healthcare providers and agencies in charge of assisted living facilities and old-age homes can also leverage a kiosk mode to enforce further limitations. They can control factory reset, USB reboot, volume +/-, screenshots, camera, Wi-Fi and many other settings on managed devices running in kiosk mode—all from the MDM dashboard.
Many care homes and assisted living facilities cater to geriatric patients who need constant monitoring of their health vitals. These vitals are critical during telehealth consultancy follow-ups. Such vitals are captured via devices mounted on modern medical equipment like ventilators, hemodialysis machines, etc.
An MDM solution lets doctors and nurses of old-age healthcare centers monitor the vitals of mounted devices. It is necessary that tech facilitators don’t miss a beat or pulse of these devices in terms of their functioning. The essentials of mounted devices include specifications like battery, memory, processor speed, data usage, display, etc.
The battery is the most critical monitoring element for mounted devices. With an MDM solution, assisted living centers can keep a very close eye on the battery status of mounted devices. They can set a minimum level as an alert. For example, the minimum battery level for a ventilator-mounted tablet can be set to 20%. As soon as the battery dips below 20%, a nurse or caregiver can be alerted so that immediate action is taken.
Monitoring mounted devices is an absolute must because these devices are linked to medical equipment that measure and monitor the health vitals of the elderly. Any misses here can lead to improper diagnosis or treatment when a telehealth call or video is in progress. There’s no margin for error in any healthcare, particularly for geriatric patients. An MDM solution ensures error-free telehealth services with comprehensive monitoring of mounted devices.
While one may think we are just going off-topic, we are actually not. No amount of new-age, digital remote consultation can ever replace in-person visits or one-on-one doctor-to-patient interactions and treatment. While telehealth and telemedicine in healthcare of the elderly are game-changers, doctors still must physically visit care homes. After all, a sudden surge or drop in blood pressure or pulse or an Alzeihmer-based panic attack needs immediate, physical medical attention.
Here are a few ways an MDM solution remains helpful:
Doctors visiting old-age care homes carry their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Similarly, senior care facilities employ multiple on-call doctors and specialists who often provide diagnoses or suggest lines of treatment via telehealth using their personal devices. The facilities can use an MDM solution to ensure all geriatric patients’ private and confidential data in EHR or other in-house apps is safe. An MDM solution allows the incorporation of BYOD (bring your own device) policies on devices of visiting doctors and other healthcare specialists and professionals. This is akin to the BYOD policies implemented on employee-owned devices in corporate environments.
An MDM software can create two different profiles or containers–work and personal–on personal devices used in care homes. It’s obviously applicable to the personal devices of caregivers or nurses, in case they are allowed to do so. This containerization ensures that work apps or data never meet their personal counterparts.
For example, following a BYOD policy, doctors cannot copy the EHR or ePHI data stored in their work container by any means. Using settings on the MDM dashboard, tech facilitators can also ensure that even screenshots of documents part of the work container are always saved within the work container.
A BYOD policy safeguards the health and other confidential data of care home inmates from being tampered with or shared. And this connects right into our next and last section.
Every healthcare professional will remember the Theranos Inc. fiasco that culminated towards the end of 2022 with more than decade-long prison sentences for its CEO and COO on account of tech fraud. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry with laws and regulations in plenty. Noncompliance can be disastrous.
Healthcare agencies, NGOs, wellness groups, etc., which manage assisted living facilities and care homes, must also comply with healthcare regulations. One such example in the US healthcare industry is HIPAA. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, incorporated in 1996. HIPAA protects the privacy of patient information and data and restricts sharing of Protected Health Information (PHI/ePHI).
An MDM allows the creation of compliance workflows from its dashboard. For example, battery compliance, data usage compliance, geofence compliance, security incidents compliance, etc. These compliance workflows can be created as per HIPAA policies. Encryption of ePHI data is one significant step in securing patient data.
Using Scalefusion, healthcare agencies can enforce ePHI data encryption on the storage media of mobile devices.
|Explore in-depth how old-age care homes and their management can stay HIPAA compliant with Scalefusion MDM.|
There is no doubt whatsoever that telehealth will continue to revolutionize and transform caregiving and healthcare for the elderly. An MDM solution can accelerate this transformation and ensure telehealth services are delivered to the elderly in the best way possible. Even for physical check-ups of geriatric patients residing in care homes, MDM benefits are evident. The elderly deserve the best of quality of care from both worlds–remote and physical.
Get Scalefusion MDM for assisted living facilities and old-age care homes to reward senior citizens with good healthcare. Talk to our experts or sign up for a 14-day free trial.