Assisted Living Must Embrace Technology to Maintain Competitive Edge

Assisted living facilities will soon have to embrace technology in order to keep up with the competition, as news of innovative solutions for improving patient care and communication are popping up left and right and quickly gaining acceptance by most of the major industry players. The 8th Annual Assistive Technology Expo seemed to kick off most of the buzz within the past week or so about emerging technologies, held April 27th and 28th in Fargo, North Dakota. Health technology advances every day

Shelly Shulz, RN, Education & Training Manager at Intelligent InSites, Inc., presented a session on Using Technology to Provide a Safe and Protective Environment, a topic which couldn’t be more representative of the rapidly changing industry. During the session, Shulz demonstrates how clients spanning the entire continuum of care (from independent living to assisted living and nursing homes) benefit from the use of Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS). RTLS enable providers to provide needed care more efficiently while maintaining the overall operation.

On Wednesday, April 27th, Verizon announced a partnership with Healthsense that would bring health and wellness monitoring services through Verizon’s fiber-optic FiOS network to planned assisted living communities. Healthsense will be marketing their home-health monitoring and response systems to communities already FiOS-equipped as well as those who may be soon. Healthsense will also be installing and maintaining the systems, which are described as “cost-effective,” likely to be a key selling point as assisted living providers weigh technology options.

This represents only a small sample of the many emerging technology options that must be weighed by assisted living executives. But one thing is clear: Failure to embrace technology that will improve the quality and efficacy of caregiving won’t be an option for providers wanting to stay competitive. AARP also reports the results of a new study this week, which indicate that older Americans are both open to and aware of caregiving technologies.

“Healthy@Home 2.0” researchers evaluated the opinions of two groups: caregivers aged 45-75 and persons 65 and older; both age groups indicate a willingness to use new technology. Already, many older adults communicate with their caregivers via email and use the internet to search for health-related information. Newer technology will continue to bridge communication barriers, reduce caregiver stress and provide real-time access to important data that can signify a problem with aging loved ones–even those in another city or state.

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