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Traditional healthcare providers expect patients will come to them. For example, the patient visits a physician's office for follow-up appointments, the CHF clinic for an NP to assess lung sounds, the ER when a sudden inability to breathe occurs. In each instance, there is a separate chart for the patient at each facility.


Patients must often find transit, park in lots that require walking several blocks, and then wait in overbooked offices to receive much-needed care. The American healthcare system is built on a "come to us" model with every patient having a health record in many different places.


Yet, most patients will state, "I want to stay in my home." As varied types of referrals continue to bombard home care, we need to meet the challenge of what patients really want. Home care's challenge is to keep the patient home while moving patient information through the healthcare system.


Telehealth and other technologies currently available and in development can provide the vehicle to move the information instead of the patient. In most cases, the patient can receive appropriate care without leaving the home.


For over a century home care clinicians have become accustomed to bringing education, assessment, and treatment to patients, families, and communities. Home care providers have achieved the confidence of physicians, acute and long-term providers, and consumers as they coordinate care and information that leads to successful patient outcomes. Technology can significantly increase that confidence level while providing cost efficiency and better care quality. Using these new resources and tools in the home setting only makes sense.


Home care's challenge is to use technology in new ways. Technologies allow patients to have less intrusive health evaluations and encourage self-care so patients can participate in controlling their disease, instead of being the hopeless visitor in the healthcare system.


Conversely, point-of-care systems and other tech support allow clinicians to increase accuracy and productivity. If used correctly, patients no longer are the system's guest-the health system is the guest in the consumer's home.


As we continue to face the current nursing shortage in the U.S., telehealth provides a solution that doesn't replace the nurse, but enables the clinician to use a tool to see more patients while still providing quality care focused on patient needs.


Staying focused on OASIS, day-to-day operations, and the smaller world view will hamper agencies from continued growth and financial success.


This focus issue has described various current and future technology and telehealth programs. Agencies that embrace technology will be the agencies that remain in the future.


Will it cruise the same old streets, highways, and driveways-or will you find yourself on the virtual highway to your patients' homes?


Which road will your agency travel upon?