Technology is changing every aspect of health care – from telemedicine for virtual visits with physicians, to smart devices to help those with diabetes, and technology to track prescription drug adherence. The senior living sector is no exception in benefiting from these technologies as well as others designed to improve resident and patient care and facilitate the services provided by staff. Following are some of the trends the senior living industry is seeing in 2017 and beyond, courtesy of McKnight’s Senior Living.
- Senior care communities are equipping prospective residents still living independently with technology such as iPads. These tablets come preloaded with software, such as medication reminders or “face to face” check-ins. In helping people stay independent for as long as possible, communities are building relationships in advance. When individuals finally make the move to assisted living, for example, theirs will be the community they gravitate to.
- The average assisted living resident takes nine medications. Multiply that across hundreds of residents in a community and you can see the tremendous challenge facilities face in managing medications for residents. With so many different medications per resident across an entire community, no room for error exists. Technology is available to monitor prescription adherence. For example, there is a smart pill that includes an embedded microchip that records specific details about a patient’s medication program. Data is then transmitted to a “receiver” patch around the patient’s arm. The receiver then sends an alert to the patient’s smartphone. The microchip can monitor how many drugs are taken, when the dose is administered, and when the next treatment is due. The pill can also monitor heart rates and body temperatures and record whether the patient is receiving enough sleep or exercise.
- With Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia on the rise as a result of an aging population, assisted living facilities are seeking new methods for helping residents with these conditions including the evolution of on-line portals for resident/caregiver engagement. HIPAA-compliant integrated communication and engagement platforms provide assisted living communities with cloud-based solutions through which they can send and receive communication from families in the form of text messages and emails from any computer or mobile device. Staff can share text, photos, video and audio files about special events using fully secure data encryption. The software provides analytics and reporting by resident and activity so the staff can track levels of engagement. Families can use the portal to enter information about residents’ life stories and prior interests to help caregivers learn more about them as individuals.
- The goal of senior living communities has always been to offer a home-like environment rather than a clinical institutional environment. One way to achieve this environment is by equipping staff members with mobile devices. Being mobile means that care teams can spend more time with residents documenting as they go instead of sitting behind a computer logging information at the end of each shift.
- Currently, there are many senior living communities whose core functions and processes are based on paper workflow while other facilities use multiple systems that don’t communicate with one another. This means multiple points of input, all of which need to be logged separately, or are not shared. It also makes it more difficult to capture, track and ensure that services (especially “unscheduled services”) are being recorded, which in turn may not get invoiced. New systems allow staff at facilities to better capture, document, and share critical information as well as integrate services with billing records
The use of technology has many benefits for the senior living industry, including helping to minimize risk, improving patient care and engagement and delivering a higher level of service. As a senior living insurance experts, Caitlin Morgan is continually keeping up to date with what is going on in the sector. We offer comprehensive insurance programs for independent living facilities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. For more information about our insurance products, contact us at 877.226.1027
Sources: McKnight’s Senior Living, CarexTech