Dr. Bruce Leff has already gained respect and accolades as a professor at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical University. But aside from his scholarly achievements and his reputation as a valuable mentor to the next generation of doctors, he also the inventor of the virtual hospital.
The virtual hospital is a confluence of different technologies that take patient-centric care out of the hospital and into the patient’s home. Dr. Leff pioneered this technique in the 1990s, and his aim then was to help elderly patients. What he found was that, for seniors that qualified for virtual hospital treatment, there were often both tangible and abstract benefits to letting a person receive treatment or recover from surgery in their own home rather than at a hospital. These are a few of the benefits he found for the elderly:
Less Likelihood of Accidents
One thing that many people in elderly medical care are aware of is that the elderly are more vulnerable to physical injury. This is due to a combination of decreased mobility from conditions like arthritis, and frail bones, due to the loss of calcium that can come with aging. As a result, it’s not uncommon for the elderly to fall in hospitals, and receive further injury, while trying to get to the bathroom on their own at night in an unfamiliar environment. Dr. Leff found that patients recovering in the virtual hospital in their own home usually avoided this hazard entirely, as they knew how to navigate their own familiar space, and often had precautions in place to help them get where they needed to go.
Another thing Dr. Leff noted was that elderly patients were often much happier with the virtual hospital experience than a traditional hospitalization program. Being in familiar surroundings helped a lot, but there were other factors as well. Because they weren’t in a hospital, they didn’t have to pay for a bed. And often, while patients who suffered from heart failure or hip/knee replacements needed medical supervision, it was periodic, not constant. Having to only “check in” for a few minutes with a medical professional online or having medical data wirelessly transmitted was more comfortable and convenient than being in a hospital.
This, combined with better food at home, were just a few of the benefits that Dr. Leff found, and it’s because of these discoveries that organizations like the Medically Home Group are now bringing the virtual hospital to more Americans.