In many cities around world, officials are looking for ways to cope with the cost of caring for an aging population. The challenge will require health organisations to reimagine how they deliver care and track results. Often officials are worried they’ll be faced with a choice between lowered costs and improving care – but the city of Esbjerg, Denmark, found a way to do both.
Esbjerg is the first of about 20 Danish cities that are rolling out a solution from Welfare Denmark that uses Kinnect for Windows and Microsoft Lync 2010 to allow patients to perform their physical therapy exercises from home. The Kinect’s camera allows physiotherapists to monitor patients’ progress through a routine incorporating any of 103 different exercises. In addition to verifying that the regimen is being followed, a therapist can use Microsoft Lync 2010 to offer feedback to provide specific instructions and ensure a routine is performed correctly.
By allowing patients to do their therapy exercises in the comfort and safety of their own home, care providers can dramatically lower the cost of providing such services. In one case, a patient in Esbjerg was able to complete three months of therapy for almost $2,500 less than it would cost to provide the same service at a medical facility.
But the savings may not be limited to less expensive treatments. Welfare Denmark says that these kinds of telemedicine solutions can help prevent health problems from reoccurring, which means fewer costly hospital visits.
”This generation of elderly people are not interested in going to elderly homes,” says Ulrik Møll, Managing Director of Welfare Denmark. ”We can help them remain at home and rehabilitate in a modern way through this solution.”