Internet service improves care for newborns and chronically ill

December 19, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Premature infants often do better at home than in hospitals. The relationships with parents and siblings are more natural, and they run a lower risk of contracting contagious diseases than at the hospital. With the new Internet service developed and tested by Chalmers, patients can be at home and at the same time get better follow-up and maintain a dialog with caring staff.

Anna Gund, who publicly defended her doctoral dissertation recently, has worked with the new Internet service Care@Distance. It includes, for example, a Website where the chronically ill, or parents to that require more careful follow-up, regularly fill in measurement values and other data related to their state of health. Care workers thereby receive ongoing information about patients without having to be on site.

“Similar systems are tested now and again, with positive outcomes, but it seems to be hard to make them part of routine care,” says Anna Gund. “We have developed a system based on the technology that is already used in most homes, and we believe that this can facilitate further dissemination.”

The Chalmers researchers designed and tested a simple, inexpensive, and adaptable system where patients and care workers only need a computer or a smart phone with Internet capability. Most other systems are based on parts that are more expensive and more complicated to learn to use. Care@Distance was tested in two groups: on the one hand, seniors with heart failure and, on the other hand, . In both cases the solution functions well, but the findings show that a key factor is that the caring staff must truly embrace the technology and provide regular feedback on the information submitted by the patient.

“In cases where they have done so, patients were very positive and felt more secure and happy,” says Anna Gund. “But in cases where they have not done so, patients were negative. The feedback that is required is to have someone look at the information submitted and provide answers to questions.”

She has also performed a questionnaire survey regarding what care workers think about using ICT support in their work. It showed that they are generally very interested and have considerable confidence in the technology. But in practice it turned out that while some staff used Care@Distance as it was intended, others did not. Anna Gund will try to find out why this was the case in her future research. She also wants to study how Care@Distance impacts the economics of care and care outcomes.

The idea is not for Care@Distance to replace human contact. Instead, it should be a complement that improves care within existing economic frameworks and that enhances dialog and quality of life.

Families with newborn infants that need care often fare better if they can be at home as much as possible. Care@Distance makes this possible because care workers can provide support with improved monitoring and dialog.

“What’s more, quite a few dangerous diseases and resistant bacteria are spread at hospitals,” says Anna Gund. “You avoid these in the home.”

She also tested video telephony with Skype to enhance communication between and care workers, and this tool was greatly appreciated.

Explore further: Telehealth keeps asthmatics out of hospitals

Related Stories

Telehealth keeps asthmatics out of hospitals

October 6, 2010

Health care delivered via telephone or Internet might not improve the quality of life for people with mild asthma, but it could keep those with severe asthma out of the hospital, a new evidence review finds.

Few studies delve into hospice care in nursing homes

March 18, 2011

A new evidence review finds that there’s scant high-quality research on the best comprehensive strategies for nursing homes hoping to ease the suffering of older patients through hospice care.

RN staffing affects patient success after discharge

April 26, 2011

Higher non-overtime staffing levels of registered nurses lower the probability of patient readmissions to the hospital, a new study finds. However, higher levels of RN overtime increase the likelihood of unplanned visits ...

Saying goodbye with dignity, grace

June 15, 2011

When Kathleen Coleman of Oak Park was first diagnosed with cardiac disease at the age of 65, her husband and adult children united with her to wage war on the illness.

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.