JOURNAL ARTICLE

eHealth Technology Competencies for Health Professionals Working in Home Care to Support Older Adults to Age in Place: Outcomes of a Two-Day Collaborative Workshop

Ansam Barakat, Ryan D Woolrych, Andrew Sixsmith, William D Kearns, Helianthe S M Kort
Medicine 2.0 2013, 2 (2): e10
25075233

BACKGROUND: The demand for care is increasing, whereas in the near future the number of people working in professional care will not match with the demand for care. eHealth technology can help to meet the growing demand for care. Despite the apparent positive effects of eHealth technology, there are still barriers to technology adoption related to the absence of a composite set of knowledge and skills among health care professionals regarding the use of eHealth technology.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to discuss the competencies required by health care professionals working in home care, with eHealth technologies such as remote telecare and ambient assisted living (AAL), mobile health, and fall detection systems.

METHODS: A two-day collaborative workshop was undertaken with academics across multiple disciplines with experience in working on funded research regarding the application and development of technologies to support older people.

RESULTS: The findings revealed that health care professionals working in home care require a subset of composite skills as well as technology-specific competencies to develop the necessary aptitude in eHealth care. This paper argues that eHealth care technology skills must be instilled in health care professionals to ensure that technologies become integral components of future care delivery, especially to support older adults to age in place. Educating health care professionals with the necessary skill training in eHealth care will improve service delivery and optimise the eHealth care potential to reduce costs by improving efficiency. Moreover, embedding eHealth care competencies within training and education for health care professionals ensures that the benefits of new technologies are realized by casting them in the context of the larger system of care. These care improvements will potentially support the independent living of older persons at home.

CONCLUSIONS: This paper describes the health care professionals' competencies and requirements needed for the use of eHealth technologies to support elderly adults to age in place. In addition, this paper underscores the need for further discussion of the changing role of health care professionals working in home care within the context of emerging eHealth care technologies. The findings are of value to local and central government, health care professionals, service delivery organizations, and commissioners of care to use this paper as a framework to conduct and develop competencies for health care professionals working with eHealth technologies.

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