Long-term care isn’t necessarily a sector that has always been at the forefront of embracing new technologies. After all, much of what determines the quality of care comes down to one-on-one interactions centered on empathy and warmth.
But just like other industries, there are significant benefits that can be gained by the use of technology in long-term care.
Incorporating more tech into your long term care facility doesn’t mean that caregivers will be replaced by robots, kiosks, and vending machines. It means that staff will have more tools to make their jobs easier and more meaningful, and residents will have more options for entertainment and connection.
Here are a few ways that technology is being used to generate better patient outcomes at long-term care facilities.
Better Data Can Improve Quality of Care
With the right data analytics technology, long-term care facility managers can get insights into what factors drive up the cost of care and take action to mitigate those factors. Lower prices can increase profits that you can use to invest in improving other areas of your long-term care facility.
Most software programs have robust reporting features that make it possible to track data that you could never track manually. For example, the data from an inventory management program or a building maintenance program might highlight redundant purchases or missed opportunities to keep equipment in good working order. Other software developed for patient care could highlight inefficient workflows or procedures, and it could boost residents’ safety and wellbeing, too.
Health Tech Magazine summarized the findings of a study from the firm Black Book Research that “just 3 percent of inpatient long-term care providers surveyed say they deploy data analytics technology with a goal of cutting unnecessary hospital readmissions and lowering care costs.”
If your long-term care facility invests in these kinds of analytics programs, you’ll have a significant advantage over competitors.
Better Communications Can Lead to Better Care
According to the same study we just mentioned, almost all long-term care facility administrators surveyed (94 percent) said that they still don’t communicate with the skilled nursing facilities that they send their complex medical patients to. And nearly 90 percent said that they don’t exchange health information with referring providers, such as hospitals, doctors, and home health providers.
With the electronic medical records tools and technology available today, there’s little excuse not to give your care partners all the information that they can use to improve their treatment of your residents.
When they have additional information, they may be able to adjust their care or save time in ways that can have a significant positive effect on the patients’ health outcomes.
Videoconferencing Technology Can Keep Residents Connected
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, video calls came to the rescue at long-term care facilities as a way to let at-risk seniors communicate with their loved ones when in-person visits weren’t possible.
However, this technology has benefits beyond quarantine measures. Now that the technology is widely available, friends and family members who wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to visit in-person can call their family to check in, even when there’s not an imminent health threat.
This may increase the overall amount of interaction that your residents get with their friends and family — which can go on to improve their mental and even physical health.
As a bonus, reliable WiFi connections and video conferencing hardware can be an attractive feature for recruiting new residents. Seniors’ expectations for high-speed internet will only increase over time as technology becomes more widespread.
Games and Videos Can Stimulate Activity and Boost Mood
Beyond videoconferencing, technology can help boost residents’ well-being in other ways.
For example, video games aren’t just for young people. Some video games can actually encourage participants to get more physical activity and simply have fun, which is good for overall health.
Other digital entertainment options include streaming videos, playing music, or displaying beautiful scenery on a large screen.
Virtual Reality Headsets Can Aid in Aging
Virtual reality is seen by most as an entertainment option — and it can be for long-term care residents, too.
However, as this article from Health Tech Magazine explains, VR technology has other benefits for seniors. In some cases, it can assist vision-impaired people, such as those with macular degeneration, to magnify, zoom in and see the world around them.
VR can also “be used to manage pain and anxiety levels for seniors with dementia by having them experience a calming beach scene.”
Wearable Technology Can Improve Health and Safety
Wearable devices are becoming more popular for people of all ages, but they have some especially useful applications for seniors and long-term care facility residents.
For one, some seniors may benefit a lot from wearable apps’ ability to track steps, exercise, and sleep, just as the rest of us can. They can also be used to set alerts for reminders to do things like take medication.
But wearables can also track biometric data that can potentially warn health providers of impending strokes because they can detect “atrial fibrillation” — even when people can’t feel the symptoms themselves. Some watches can even function as emergency medical alerts.
Wearable beacons can also help with memory care patients, because they can alert administrators of their residents’ whereabouts.
Visitor Management Apps Prevent Disease Spread
One of the biggest threats to the safety of long-term care facility residents is the viruses that are brought in from the outside.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it became even more important to prove that all visitors are healthy before they are allowed to access the facility—and to keep careful track of who came into the facility for contact tracing purposes.
Visitor management apps can prevent dangerous disease transmission by making sure visitors check in safely and that there’s a reliable record of each visitor that makes it easy to contact them later, if needed.
With this new visitor check-in technology, visitors can check-in completely contactlessly using their mobile phones. Visitors can also review and agree to visitor policies that pertain to safety and disease transmission before they are checked in, which could potentially keep your residents safer.
The accurate and detailed visitor reports you get from a program like The Receptionist can keep the lobby safer. It helps to allocate resources more appropriately (which can also keep the lobby appropriately staffed) and ensures that the lobby has enough space for social distancing.
Investing in Tech Pays Off for Long-Term Care Facilities
Better technology can improve patient outcomes, but it serves the dual purpose of benefiting your long-term care facility by helping you attract and retain residents.Better technology can help your long-term care facility attract and retain residents. Click To Tweet
This 2018 article in Skilled Nursing News showed that 83% of senior living corporations believe they have under-invested in technology. That means that making a significant investment in the infrastructure necessary to provide these tools can give your facility a significant advantage.
For more on running long-term care facilities, check out these articles:
- The Future of Long-Term Care Facility Visitation Policies
- Long-Term Care Facility Lobby Design Basics
- How to Hire a Receptionist for Your Long-Term Care Facility
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