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Extending the range of
home tele-services that can be
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Telehospice: Needed & Improved Service Delivery at End of Life
April 2004

Telehospice: It’s the increased use of communications (the tele component) to provide hospice services for end-of-life patients and their caregivers.

Still uncertain about using technologies in hospice, the highest touch, lowest tech healthcare service of all? Here’s an opportunity to learn about the advantageous uses of technology as an adjunct to conventional care. Telehospice is not mechanizing the home hospice process nor forcing us to choose between nurse and patient contact or machine and patient contact.

Telehospice can, instead provide, more means for communications to keep patients and their caregivers in closer contact with nursing and other hospice staff. Services can be delivered more promptly, and can include:

  • quicker assessments of patients via easy-to-use physiologic tracking tools (like the telecommunications-ready blood pressure cuff or glucose meter)
  • more timely interventions (for pain management, for example, using pre-programmed telecommunications-ready ambulatory infusion pumps)
  • teaching family or other lay caregivers (through audio and video resources that reinforce nurses’ in-person directions) how to provide needed comfort measures.

These possibilities are discussed in the Tele-Help Tools for Hospice segment below.

Telehospice Case Studies will note examples of providing more kinds of comfort than simply replicating the conventional in-person visit. Telling looks at telehospice’s use in care in prisons and in rural America are provided.

Today, only 1 in 4 Americans who die have been admitted to hospice care, and it is believed that many people do not know about its availability, while others think of it and shun it as “home care for the dying.” Our Look Homeward segment provides details on work that is being done in telehospice to extend that definition of hospice care at home. Experts in the field provide details about targeted care for patients who might not otherwise be reached or have their needs met, underserved ethnic minority patients being one example.

Telehospice today: it is new, programs are small, results are limited as yet. All the more reason to begin looking at Needed Directions

Tele-Help Tools for Hospice.
A small sampling…

  • Telehealth workstations. Needed for more frequent tracking of patients’ status, include a range of physiologic monitoring tools, such as blood pressure cuff and glucose monitor. One example is the HomMed system.
  • Vidoephones and videocameras. Two staples in today’s telehospice toolbox, used most often for teaching and reminders. One example is the Starview system.
Telehospice Case Studies
… what’s working.

Two case studies indicate telehospice's effectiveness in providing comfort care, which is key to accomplishing hospice's mission.

  1. telehospice care in correctional facilities-- better than usual hospice care is described by a provider.
  2. in rural telehospice, more than overcoming barriers of distance are at issue, as noted in this case.

Look Homeward
With 3 experts working in the telehospice arena who describe how it’s been possible to reach out to a broader community and educate them about hospice’s value and possibilities for patients and their caregivers.

Needed Directions
Start thinking about “how” to invest our time and energies in telehospice That means thinking protocols, planning, and pathways. We provide recommended reading on these topics right here.


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