Jul 06 2017

Hospital and Senior Living Partnerships: Breaking Down Technology’s Role

EHRs, mobile devices, sensors and other tools can improve growing value-based care efforts.

A sea change in healthcare reimbursement policy has put a premium on value-based care. The growth of accountable care organizations comes directly from that shift and reflects a greater embrace of ancillary healthcare service providers that offer preventive care and improve overall wellness. Because elderly patients tend to transition between acute care settings and senior living facilities, ACOs interested in the financial incentives tied to reduced readmission rates have developed an interest in partnering with senior living organizations that can help them monitor and maintain patient health and care quality.

When properly implemented, I believe such partnerships offer a win-win scenario. For senior living facilities, the ability to offer more comprehensive, coordinated care, including acute care when needed, can mean healthier residents and a leg up on the competition.

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Look at Where Tech Can Push Improvement

The challenge for facilities interested in such collaborations lies in integrating the care they offer with provider organizations, as well as demonstrating the value of that care to both prospective and existing partners. Technology, without a doubt, is crucial to both of these goals.

For instance, clinical information in provider organizations typically flows through an electronic health record system. Increasingly, senior living communities and long-term care facilities will adopt tools able to integrate with such systems.

At one such organization, Bloomfield, N.J.-based Juniper Communities, an EHR helps to coordinate record keeping. Juniper also uses onsite clinical services and individuals who facilitate and manage communication among patients, caregivers and providers. The system has proved effective, driving down readmission rates a whopping 80 percent.

Efficiency Matters with Tech Deployments

Mobile tools that connect residents to staff members, the EHR and partners also play a major role in integration. Opportunities for video conferences, where appropriate, can make more efficient use of physicians’ time in nonemergency situations, in addition to causing less disruption for residents.

Additionally, sensors provide a range of monitoring scenarios to keep on top of resident well-being. One study I read with interest used environmental sensors to coordinate assessment and intervention at TigerPlace in Columbia, Mo., raising the amount of time residents aged in place at the facility by almost two years.

Other possibilities include bed sensors that track respiration, heart rate, sleep duration and movement, such as those in a pilot program under which the Masonic Homes of California wants to implement longer-term tracking of residents’ day-to-day health.

Beyond clinical collaboration, use of these devices and technologies provides facilities a set of data to improve outcomes and, more importantly, to demonstrate that improvement.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using #WellnessIT.