Medical care in nursing homes is unsustainable

     October 30, 2013
    By Javier Garcia

    Or at least that is what a group of experts from the Basque Public Health Service and the University of the Basque Country believe. Unfortunately, in light of their data, they are not wrong. More specifically, among the problems they have identified, three may be highlighted:

    1. The tasks carried out by health professionals vary according to the nursing home they attend.
    2. The system’s design has been improvised.
    3. Some tasks are duplicated and therefore so are their costs.

    Nevertheless, despite this initial statement, the mere fact that studies such as this are being carried out gives us hope that the situation can be reversed.

    How can the system’s sustainability be guaranteed?

    Firstly, it is necessary to thoroughly analyze the personal needs and circumstances of each elderly patient and their environment, in such as way that decisions can be made on the basis of specific and relevant data. Once a sound system has been developed, the analysis of the results plays a fundamental role in identifying potential deviations, problems arising in practice or unforeseen changes.

    On the other hand, the use of technology, which is developing so quickly in different fields, may become a crucial factor. Such an example of this can be found in the elderly care platform, Kwido, which uses features such as the remote monitoring of health variables to assist the work of medical professionals, without requiring them to visit the patient in person. In routine cases, the monitoring system provides care professionals with up-to-date patient data, which allows them to prescribe specific personalized measures thanks to its video call facility. Likewise, it also favours a faster system response time in the case of an emergency.

    It is also important to conduct a comprehensive study into the responsibilities assumed by each part of the health system in order to avoid duplicities and, thanks to cross referencing of data, deal with the most pressing concerns for citizens. Perhaps this is one of the more difficult points to carry out given that it requires coordination between different organizations, which often work with different methodologies.

    Other measures may also prove useful, such as the provision of medicine according to requirements, rather than issuing standardized quantities, or specific knowledge of the costs generated by each service, etc. On any account, reflection is vital to being able to guarantee the rights of thousands of people who are treated by medical and care services, even more so if we consider the future forecasts for a territory such as the Basque Country, whose percentage of citizens over the age of 65 is higher than the Spanish and European average.