A device seen as a future of health care in regional Australia, may free nurses from long road trips, and instead beams them into lounge rooms.
The internet-connected device looks like a mix between a TV and a jaffle iron, allows the elderly and the infirm to have a video conference with a nurse, from their own home. The device also guides them through a daily process of checking their blood pressure, pulse and weight while automatically relaying the details to a clinic for centralized monitoring.
Margaret Scott OAM, head of a community care nursing service, north of Sydney said, You could have one registered nurse monitoring maybe 50 or 60 patients in a day using this remote patient monitoring, while they can only do 10 or 15 when they do it face-to-face.
A lot of nurses travel a hundred kilometres in the course of their community visits in a day ... therefore we're making real effective use of the scarce commodity called the registered nurse.
Mrs Scott who is Nursing Director at Hunter Nursing Agencies, in Toronto is currently supervising the pilot study which involves up to 50 of the Intel Health Guide units that have been recently introduced in Australia.
She said, while the device may never replace a home visit by a nurse to perform hands on tasks such as wound treatment, the technology can be very efficient for the many visits that were for monitoring purposes alone.
Elderly users involved in the trial had adapted quickly to the hi-tech alternative to a nurse home visit, said Mrs Scott.
It sometimes takes them a little while to become comfortable or to move on from thinking it's a computer ... but they can see people on it and that very quickly wins them over.
The device could hold the key to improving health care delivery to rural and remote parts of the country, without prompting major break-out in funding.
While the price have not been released yet, according to an Intel spokesperson, the device make use of conventional technology and the internet, making it in the realms of commodity prices for a PC.
Mrs Scott said, compared to having a registered nurse driving around the countryside for routine monitoring, it was a no-brainer and was cost effective.