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Home health monitoring could be part of your cable bill

AT&T is venturing into remote patient monitoring using its existing home security system technology.

Today, consumers can order their Internet, television and telephone services from one provider. They can also receive discounts for adding a security system and monitoring service to their monthly subscription. There are signs that other services, including some related to healthcare, will soon be available to tack on to household cable bills.

Internet service providers and cable companies are always searching for new ways to increase the number of services available as part of their packages. Since they possess an existing client base, it's simple for them to stimulate new revenue by bundling new services with their core offerings. An upcoming rollout of home health monitoring services by a large telecommunications provider could go a long way in determining whether other healthcare services could be included as part of future cable bundles.

AT&T is preparing to offer its remote security monitoring service to U.S. households, called AT&T Digital Life. The company recently announced it would be performing a trial of Digital Life that will allow family members and non-medical caregivers to observe elderly or disabled patients that are living independently via remote patient monitoring systems.

The home health monitoring service can be offered to senior citizens and others to track and capture information that can be shared with their providers or caregivers.

"This newest service from Digital Life will help caregivers stay connected with how their loved one goes about their daily activities," Kevin Petersen, president of Digital Life Inc. at AT&T said in an announcement of the trial.

Home health monitoring systems and similarly functioning mobile apps consist of real-time wireless vital sign-capturing devices. There are also devices that can be connected to a hub that collects patient data and publishes it to a secure server or cloud.

These tools will play a critical role in helping the population address chronic disease management. From remote biometric technology and consumer technology such as tablets and old-fashioned patient education, care providers have a collection of ways through which they can convince patients to become involved in their own care. Engaging patients will not only improve care, it can reduce the occurrence of hospital readmissions.

Development of these initiatives and services will also hinge on how successful physicians are in motivating patients to use these devices and technologies. Their long-term effectiveness will be determined by the quality of data captured, and whether it can be shared with different healthcare systems and primary care providers. AT&T isn't the only cable provider exploring the possibilities of home health monitoring. Verizon has been active in this arena with its SureResponse mobile emergency response system.

Home monitoring services can be of great convenience to patients. Patients with certain chronic conditions are more likely to evaluate these services. If they find them to be worth the effort or if they are recommended and supported by their provider, the patients can opt to have their local service provider perform the installation. Because security is an area many will ask their service providers about, companies such as AT&T and Verizon will need to ensure all safeguards are taken to protect their client's private health information.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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