December 16, 2022

Article
3 min

How Educating Patients on Privacy and Cost Affects Post-Acute Home Healthcare

For providers, expanding home healthcare may require helping patients make the right technology decisions.

Matt Sickles

As adoption of digital solutions for home healthcare continues to grow, providers will likely need to help patients navigate new questions related to privacy and cost. One source of growth in the market is consumer products such as the Apple Watch, which can perform an electrocardiogram and summon an ambulance if a wearer falls. The post-acute market also is growing, enabling patients to continue their recovery at home and, often, achieve better outcomes. 

Yet this widening technology landscape creates new issues for patients and providers, including privacy, cost and education. For instance, although providers have protections in place to secure healthcare data and personally identifiable information, patients may be unaware of privacy policies or security risks related to devices they use on their home networks.

As providers increase their use of home healthcare, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Privacy Is a Key Consideration for At-Home Medical Devices

For many patients, simply choosing a device can be overwhelming. In the past, providers would choose the necessary technology for each patient, typically from a much more limited selection than exists today. Now, providers may give patients a catalog or a landing page on Amazon to choose their own devices. 

Patients must understand the capabilities of various devices so they can make the best decisions. While providers certainly offer guidance from a medical perspective, there may be other factors that patients consider important when choosing from among several options. 

Privacy is one factor. Patients may assume that vendors, regulators and other stakeholders have their privacy protection in mind. But the growth of the home healthcare market means that patients are essentially becoming more responsible for their own information privacy, and they may need help to understand potential security vulnerabilities and best practices. 

For example, patients should know where their device data will be going and what type of access they will be asked to authorize when they sign on to use associated applications. They should be aware of the potential for unintentional disclosures of information. Many health applications give patients the option to share their information with doctors, caregivers and family members. This can be extremely beneficial, but at the same time, even high-level data can paint a more detailed picture of a patient than some may realize.

Anticipate Potential Costs for Device Connectivity and Support

Post-acute home healthcare has the potential to lower the cost of overall care, even as it improves patients’ health outcomes. But some aspects of home healthcare can generate unexpected costs for patients and providers.

In rural areas, for example, patients may lack access to reliable internet service that can support device connectivity. To use home healthcare devices as intended, patients may need to purchase solutions or services to ensure their internet is adequate. It’s important for providers to be aware of this potential issue and to be prepared to help patients implement appropriate solutions.

Home healthcare devices may also create costs for providers. For example, hospital staff members may need to be available to help patients with technical questions and troubleshooting, particularly for devices that are critical for patients’ health. 

 

Expert Help Can Ease Adoption for Patients and Providers

Providers need to develop clear instructions to help patients be successful with home healthcare technologies. Patients should understand the benefits and expected outcomes, of course, but they also should have some understanding of how to use the devices most effectively. They also need to know what questions to ask before they accept the responsibility of bringing medical devices into their homes. 

For many patients, the ability to continue post-acute care at home and to manage chronic conditions with the help of connected devices can be a life-changing improvement. To help patients achieve the best outcomes and maintain the confidentiality of their data, providers may want to enlist the help of partners who can help them establish effective home healthcare programs, including patient education.

Story by Matt Sickles, is an executive healthcare strategist at CDW Healthcare and has more than 30 years of experience in leading-edge information security- and technology-related fields