COVID-19 upended every nook and cranny of the health care industry in every part of the world. There is nothing that the novel coronavirus didn’t touch. But it is in senior care that governments got the surprise of their lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that almost half of all coronavirus fatalities in Europe could be traced back to nursing homes. In the United States, more than 40% of COVID-19 deaths were linked to senior care facilities.
Everywhere in the world, the message is the same: nursing homes are in a critical condition not only because of COVID-19 but also because they have been in critical condition even before the pandemic. It is about time governments notice these problems and try to solve them with the solutions that have been glaring from the start. They need to use technology. When they do and for those that finally did it, technology will have such a huge impact on long-term care facilities and the improvement of the quality of lives of their residents.
Telehealth has been fast-growing over the last couple of years. The COVID-19 crisis, of course, made that growth rapid. It offers accessible health services to patients. They don’t need to visit the doctor’s clinics or hospitals to consult with a health specialist. Telemedicine removes barriers to good health, including the distance between provider and patient, lack of available providers in the area, and inability to access transportation.
It is beneficial for senior patients, both living in their homes and those in retirement communities. According to a study, telemedicine can reduce by 20% the cost of senior care. Also, they limit the number of trips that seniors take to the emergency room. This also reduces the risk of catching new diseases when they have to stay in the waiting rooms.
Big Data Analytics
Data analytics is everywhere. Senior care is now data-driven. It follows the model of mobile-integrated healthcare and community paramedics wherein emergency rooms wherein resources are shared so appropriate medical intervention can be provided to patients. MIH/CP does this to provide access to primary care and reduce the use of emergency rooms. The system uses data to determine how to respond to the patient or caller.
This kind of system connects to patients’ medical records, allowing paramedics to provide the appropriate response to an emergency call. The system uses data it collects from hospitals, law enforcement, mental health providers, public health, and social services. This integration is an essential step to ensuring that patients receive the best care possible no matter the circumstances.
Seniors are more aware of their needs right now because of classes they can take via teleconference. Providers can hold “classes” online to educate residents in senior-care facilities on how to take care of themselves and ask for help when they have an emergency while no one is around. These classes also discuss various other things such as the importance of exercising, proper diet, mental exercises, and more. They encourage seniors to learn more about their health and research their conditions.
Electronic Medical Records
Senior living communities are connected to a system that contains the residents’ medical records. This is one of the requirements when living in these assisted facilities. The caregivers and providers need access to the patients’ medical records. There are a lot of apprehensions about this, but the system uses secure pathways to access information. Also, only a limited number of people can see the patients’ records.
The EMRs improve efficiency from the management down to the frontline staff. They accurately document the level of care given to the residents. Plus, they also reduce the amount of paperwork that the staff needs to do. Therefore, they can spend more time with the residents.
One of the most significant benefits of technology in senior care facilities is the high level of independence it provides. Even seniors who have debilitating diseases can live largely on their own as long as they wear a bracelet or pendant that can warn care providers if they are in trouble. They need to simply press the distress button when they need help. Also, care providers can detect the location of the seniors who wander about the property.
During the lockdown due to COVID-19, one of the most heartbreaking things to see is seniors unable to see their families. A lack of personal connection outside can be detrimental to their health. Thankfully, video calls still made it possible to reconnect with friends, relatives, and family members. Staff at the facilities are only too happy to assist their residents how to contact their families. Of course, devices like Alexa can help with that, too.
The use of technology in senior care facilities is one of the most critical features that these communities should offer. As seniors get cut off from their families and the rest of the world at times, it’s crucial to provide them with tools that will help them reach out. It helps, of course, that these tools also provide a greater amount of care and a higher level of autonomy.