We are now at the point where it is possible to measure almost every component of human physiology and many elements of behavior. But just having data from disparate devices and apps does not alone translate to better health and improved management of care. Many are now accepting this as the digital transformation of healthcare.
One industry that has been slow to adopt this digital transformation, but is poised to take advantage of it, is long-term care and the care homes that provide it. Legacy equipment like nurse call systems, bed exit pads and resident wandering solutions are still being used despite the diminished capacity of our ageing population. The truth is that virtually every aspect of the long-term care industry—skilled nursing homes, assisted and independent living communities; continuing care retirement communities; adult foster homes; and at-home care—has the potential for dramatic change resulting from digital transformation.
Digital transformation is no longer a buzz word but a key priority for the healthcare sector. As this transformation continues, the Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as a major area for growth and investment, allowing organizations to drive efficiencies while also improving resident experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) has several potential benefits for the healthcare sector. Imagine the possibility to improve the resident’s experience, free up valuable staff time and provide the ever-increasing range of services in a timelier, more effective way?
Practically speaking, IoT is where devices and sensors are used to link the physical world with the Internet, turning data into insights, and aid the automation of key processes. Ultimately it can be a tool to make processes quicker and more efficient, leading to improved resident care and experience. The resident’s experience is often overlooked but can have a profound impact on outcomes. By impacting dignity; safety; efficiency and quality of life for all, each and every stakeholder will win with the resident at the center.
Improving care with interconnected medical devices
IoT will help improve patient care with interconnected medical devices. This allows information to be instantly and efficiently shared with all relevant parties; doctors, nurses, residents, their family, researchers, pharmaceutical organizations, regulators and equipment manufacturers.
Healthcare instruments and practices are, through the collection of data becoming increasingly ‘intelligent’. They can be used to collect and provide more detailed knowledge of diseases, treatment targets and biomarkers. In the case of Long-Term Care, specific behaviors including aggression, falls, wandering and elopement can be identified and incidents automatically logged. The data can be shared between all stakeholders to not only improve care for the patient/resident but to also feed into long-term understanding of treatments and outcomes.
Remote, ongoing monitoring
While historic monitoring of a resident’s care has been dependent on medical staff physically carrying it out, IoT is allowing constant, non-invasive monitoring of the patient/resident throughout their treatment and care. Healthcare professionals use IoT to monitor data continuously, algorithms will predict changes and make recommendations for the nurses, doctors and other healthcare specialists to act on and make any necessary interventions. This frees up staff time, lowers costs, delivers a quicker, more convenient patient service and ultimately better outcomes for all.
While nurse call systems are appropriate for acute care settings, continual remote monitoring and data collection of the Long-Term care resident’s actions will encourage resident mobility and well-being in an unobtrusive and dignified manner.