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Public health organizations are chartered with ensuring the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Their scope of responsibility is wide-ranging and varies from country to country, and they are required to provide direct healthcare services to their citizens, including epidemiology and disease prevention.

In the area of providing care, public health organizations, along with their commercial health counterparts, face a variety of challenges: a virtual explosion in the amount of collected information; fragmentation of data and formats across providers and care teams; spiraling cost escalation; and a shortage of staff and resources to keep up with the workload caused in large part by an aging population.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, 22% of the population will be over the age of 60. The WHO further states that health systems need to be realigned to meet the needs of the aging population and that all countries need an integrated system of long-term care.

Public health officials and practitioners continue to assess new technologies to help them transform healthcare services to keep up with these growing demands. Technology, when combined with new and novel approaches, enables public health organizations to drive down costs and improve health outcomes. In-home care is a way to address these challenges, contain costs, and improve the patient’s overall well-being and care experience. This is an area undergoing rapid digital transformation as public health organizations adopt modern technologies.

Aspects of home care employing modern technologies include:

  • Remote Patient Monitoring helps create and maintain a full picture of a patient’s health and well-being by connecting devices in the field and harnessing the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to track wellness and detect, troubleshoot, and resolve patient issues in real-time.
    Example: Care-givers are equipping elderly patient’s homes with sensors embedded in the floor and furniture for issues ranging from “slip and fall” detection to signal an alert to the caregiver if the patient has remained in bed for an extended period of time. These sensors, combined with wearable technologies that monitor the patient’s vital signs (e.g. heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, etc.), can provide vital information to the patient’s care team.
  • Mobile Care Worker helps health organizations carry out their extended mission by building a customized mobile care solution based on a health customer’s specific needs and priorities to serve residents in their homes. Additionally, IoT and other technologies, along with the care-giver’s mobile device can provide oversight to ensure these visits are carried out when and where they are scheduled (in an electronic visit verification scenario—an important compliance aspect of home care for many public health agencies).
    Example: Certain countries have begun empowering postal workers with capabilities to check on remote elderly patients with mobile care solutions to collect information to update health records while out on regularly recurring routes. This helps to maximize existing efficiencies and empower staff to be impactful in new ways.
  • Virtual Consult utilizes enablement and configuration within Microsoft Teams to facilitate a telehealth solution that can reduce onboarding time, consolidate communication and collaboration agility, and ease user adoption for an organization.
    Example: Traveling to a patient’s home is time-consuming and can be costly—especially in rural communities where the travel distances can be significant from one patient’s home to another. Virtual consultations are becoming a more popular complement to—and sometimes replacement of—in-home visits made possible by the video-teleconference capabilities within Microsoft Teams.
    Common scenarios include:
    • Checking in on the patient when receiving a non-emergency alert (e.g. elevated blood pressure). Video allows the caregiver to check in on the patient and observe their state in a way that a phone call cannot;
    • Behavioral Counseling: video enables the counselor to pick up on non-verbal cues in a way audio-only (e.g. phone call) interactions cannot.
  • Healthcare Bot employs an AI-powered service for healthcare that integrates medical content from trusted sources, including details on conditions, symptoms, medications, types of doctors, procedures, and more.
    Example: AI-driven technology can be leveraged to provide automated triage functionality to respond to and interact with patients during a time of crisis. Questions that assess the levels of pain and types of injuries, while recording the information in healthcare standard terminology are invaluable to care teams who will need to follow up with patients based on need and severity.
  • Operational Analytics embrace predictive models and innovative technologies to create actionable insights and outputs to better manage individual and population health outcomes.
    Example: Streamlined operations and reduced costs are benefits of analytics models enabling healthcare care executives and clinicians to share information and analyze structured & unstructured data. This empowers them to make more informed choices at the point of decision by utilizing improved KPI’s such as medical quality and patient safety.

Public health solutions create experiences that give residents control over their health data and provide insights that facilitate self-care and family support. Technology-driven solutions deepen patient insights to gain a 360-degree view of care metrics and enable a personalized care continuum.

Care teams at different levels within the municipality are able to connect with patients, increase communication and collaborate more efficiently in real-time to address issues from benign single-patient monitoring through pandemic-level crises that necessitate a broader reach and level of interaction. Delivering a connected and personalized customer service experience to empower care teams is an evolving requirement, and Microsoft provides solutions to enable secure, compliant collaboration and faster decisions, as well as help care teams to form, communicate, and do more for their residents.

Visit Microsoft in Health and Microsoft in Public Health and Social Services to learn more. Also, download the IDC white paper on Public Health and Social Services.


References:

1World Health Organization