Assisted Living and Telemedicine
The use of telemedicine in assisted living and nursing facilities is a growing project area for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, especially in view of the expected growth of such facilities as the “baby boomer” generation ages. With the use of telemedicine equipment, physicians and health care providers can be electronically brought to the facility, often eliminating the need to transport the patient off site from the nursing home for care. This lessens the risk of a fall or injury to the patient during transportation, and, avoids the expense of the transport.
The first assisted living project for Texas Tech was the Carillon Telemedicine Pilot Project in 2001. The Family Medicine Department of TTUHSC was linked to the Carillon assisted living facility in Lubbock. During the study period, physicians at Tech were successfully able to deliver a variety of primary care with very high patient satisfaction. The project demonstrated that telemedicine is a viable tool for use in nursing homes.
Telemedicine knowledge and expertise gained from the Carillon project is now being applied in the Garrison Education and Care Center, a teaching nursing home which opened summer 2002 on the campus of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. At the Garrison Center, Texas Tech is continuing to research telemedicine applications with aging and Alzheimer’s patients. The Garrison Center is becoming a teaching lab for telemedicine.
Texas Tech is also developing plans to link rural nursing homes with its' medical center and the Garrison Center. Many rural nursing home across West Texas are located in communities without a hospital or physician. And, in many instances, the nursing home medical director is also miles away. Texas Tech physicians believe that telemedicine can be used to greatly enhance the level of on-site care in such nursing homes and virtually eliminate unnecessary ambulance transportation. The technology can also be used to provide much needed training for rural home personnel.
As an early pioneer in telemedicine, Texas Tech has already established telemedicine into many rural areas. Telemedicine efforts with assisted living facilities broadens the capabilities of Tech to assist with delivering rural health care and teaching the health care providers of the future.
Ultimately, telemedicine could be a part of everyday life in nursing and assisted living centers across West Texas.