By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
Systems like QuietCare meet the Institute’s
criteria for a “moderate-technology level.”
QuietCare places small sensors in the home that
record events of daily living and gather information
based on movement around the sensor. A sensor that
is positioned by the bed, for example, would give a
caregiver or physician data about when a person went
to bed for the night or took naps during the day. If
someone is prone to wandering at night, this same
sensor would report when the person left the bed,
returned, and perhaps left again. A caregiver could
then help the patient discuss night wakenings with a
physician to determine if it is a cause for concern.
David Stern, CEO of QuietCare, noted that
telehealth systems need to be “mindful” of how these
systems are used in the home, “allowing for
appropriate help at the appropriate time.” He also
said that physicians are often amazed at how much
information about a person’s daily activities can be
captured from sensors like those his company
There are “high-technology” systems that can
record much more complex pieces of data, providing,
at times, intimate information about a person’s
daily life. For example, radio tags can be inserted
into clothing and household items that transmit data
back to a monitoring system when these items are
worn, touched, or otherwise activated. Pressure
systems in a person’s favorite chair can tell a
caregiver how long a person sits during the day,
providing information about the amount of physical
activity that the patient may have during the day.
Cameras in the house can give snapshots (either
“still shots” or streaming video) of the overall
activity level. There are systems that can record
and transmit information about a person’s weight,
blood pressure, temperature, blood sugar, and other
vital statistics. For patients with serious chronic
illnesses like congestive heart failure, these types
of systems may be the best fit since a change in
weight could signal a need for an immediate doctor
Addressing Privacy Concerns in Advance:
Experts in the field suggest that before
caregivers and patients consider installing a home
monitoring system, that they take the time to assess
a variety of questions. These can include:
- Who will have access to the information?
- How will that information be used or shared?
- If caregivers can access the information,
have they been trained in using the technology
and reporting systems?
- What are some short-term goals that families
expect to meet by installing a home monitoring
- In the long-run, what will the family gain
by having the technology in place?
- What happens in case an emergency occurs? In
families with more than one caregiver, who will
- Who will pay for the system? Insurance and
Medicare are reluctant to provide payment.
Private pay or subsidies by an organization in
the community may be an option.