The need for advancing technologies to improve monitoring and safety in the home is paramount. In the USA last year, there were 73,000 falls cases involving people over the age of 65. Strangely, 98% of all technology focusing on falls is aimed at detecting a fall, instead of preventing it. There is an urgent need for systems which can detect as well as prevent falls. A huge step forward in monitoring and safety in the home is in the field of chronic disease, with 80% of all deaths and 90% of illnesses in the USA each year currently attributed to chronic disease.
In the UK, telehealth products developed over the last decade have provided monitoring of patients in their home with chronic diseases, removing the need for hands-on human interaction. A study in the UK revealed that hospital admissions decreased by 70% for people monitoring their conditions daily using a telehealth product.
While the benefits of telehealth products are evident, a number of negatives arise throughout the process, affecting who is able to use and afford such products. Apart from the obvious high cost, other concerns include the complex nature of the products, maintenance issues, retrofitting and privacy issues. The Smart Technology for Healthy Longevity study identifies the need for more research into telehealth through Australia as well as the need to invest in low-cost monitoring systems and technologies to prevent hospital admissions and unnecessary deaths in the home.