Future systems for remote health care
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As the number of elderly people in society increases, the use of technology to support the care system is being examined. However, there is no agreed model of a technology-based health-care system that fully integrates the technical and social aspects to meet the needs of both clients and care providers. This paper examines a possible model from the perspective of both the client and the service provider, and estimates the costs, and hence the potential savings, associated with the introduction of a health-care system based on this model. Cost data are presented in the context of an installation as might be anticipated within a city such as Birmingham, UK. Installation costs of an advanced telecare system would be higher than the set-up costs of conventional systems. Expected savings in control centre costs and emergency services costs would be small. However, a reduction in the average annual length of hospital stay by one day and a reduction in the proportion of elderly people being treated in hospital from 32.4% to 32.0%, directly as a result of the use of advanced telecare, would produce significant savings. A financing scheme with a 5-year or 10-year repayment period would then be financially viable for a 10,000-home advanced telecare system.