Using Technology to Rebuild Your Frontline Workforce<p><img src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2022/BentPhilipson.jpg" alt="Bent Phillipson" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;" />​Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline caretakers have been overworked, pushed to their limit, and increased their vulnerability to getting sick. Employee burnout has reached a record high, with droves of quality staff members leaving their caretaking positions. The senior care industry has felt the brunt of this crisis, specifically in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), long term care (LTC) centers, and nursing homes.</p><h3>The State of Senior Care in 2022</h3><p>The shortage of caretakers continues, even as the pandemic's severity decreases. Studies like the <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/News-and-Communications/Fact-Sheets/FactSheets/Workforce-Survey-September2021.pdf" target="_blank">State of Long Term Care Industry report</a> reveal alarming statistics about assisted living and nursing homes. Of 1,183 facilities surveyed, 99 percent have faced a recent staffing shortage. The primary cause of these shortages is burnout due to disorganization and lack of support.</p><p>The lack of frontline workers in elder care has worse consequences than high turnover at a particular organization. Overworked caretakers, or lack of options to find them, often hastens an elderly patient's decline when they do not get the proper physical or mental attention. Inability to get proper care can be devastating for seniors and their families.</p><p>As organizations slowly begin to rebuild their staff, now is the time not just to recover but also to build a more stable future. Retaining workers is crucial as the aging population continues to increase.</p><p>What is the best way to strategize employee retention for senior care? Technology.</p><p>Incorporating new technical skills into day-to-day operations can feel intimidating and overwhelming for busy nursing staff, but the benefits outweigh the struggles. With the help of electronics, frontline workers can have more control over their time. Technology helps nurses have more manageable schedules and more efficient communication with their patients and supervisors. As a result, they are free to give more direct human interaction to those they serve, keeping the care level consistent and high quality.</p><p>Technology can also be a means of caretaker recruitment. Branding is more crucial now than ever in attracting younger adults to pursue a career in the senior care industry. The baby boomer population will soon be entering the elder support system, making the industry poised for immense growth with ample job opportunities.</p><p>The upcoming increase of senior patients necessitates better recruitment and nurturing of staff. Social media, e-newsletter communications, and other forms of internet marketing can make frontline working more attractive to the next generation. </p><h3>Five Technologies to Attract and Retain Frontline Workers</h3><p>Below are five technological innovations that healthcare executives should consider using in their facilities to provide greater support for their staff while encouraging higher rates of retention.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">1. Smart Speakers</h3><p>A patient in a skilled nursing facility or long-term care center may tell smart speakers to call a nurse for assistance getting to the restroom or if they need help moving around. They can also use it to turn on a television, increasing their feeling of self-sufficiency. With smart speakers, daily tasks get easier for seniors. In turn, this frees up the daily tasks of your staff. When the patient is more independent, healthcare workers are free to see more people and have more meaningful interactions with them. Whenever we can make a frontline worker's job easier, it helps them feel valued and allows them to reserve their energy for more critical tasks.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">2. Alarms and Sensors</h3><p>Safety monitoring systems allow SNF and LTC residents to activate an alarm using their voices. The systems can also record vitals, detect falls, and send reminders to take medication. The information it gathers can generate important health alerts, draft treatment plans, and tell care teams of potential incidents before they occur. These devices reduce stress for staff, which helps to make their job easier. </p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">3. Artificial Intelligence</h3><p>In many settings, <a href="https&#58;//www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00072-z" target="_blank">robots</a> can take over the job of real people, which is powerful in facilities experiencing staffing shortages. Artificial intelligence can take the form of robotic assistants that help seniors be more independent, even when they're living at a LTC center. They also help support nurses by taking care of mundane tasks like cleaning or more critical needs like providing emotional connection when staff is busy.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">4. Touchless Devices</h3><p>Though senior care can have a reputation for lagging with technology use, touchless abilities put it towards the front. Machines like touchless clocks prevent the spread of many viruses, allowing frontline workers to accomplish tasks faster and with less physical risk to their health while also preventing residents from getting sick and spreading diseases around the facility.</p><h3 class="ms-rteElement-H3B">5. Training Software</h3><p>Patient care technology is worthwhile when it functions well, but training employees to use it brings an unfamiliar set of challenges. Many facilities are overwhelmed by the time, money, and brain power it takes to understand and incorporate complicated skills. Several companies have created software to make the learning process user-friendly for frontline workers, giving them the confidence to level up their technical skills on the job. Healthcare workers who understand and appreciate technical expertise can use it to make their jobs more time-efficient, safe, and with less burnout.</p><p>Technology gives healthcare workers a precious commodity&#58; time. When nursing staff can better control their schedules, stress levels go down, as do employee turnover rates. Electronic tools take more mundane work off the shoulders of employees, freeing them up to interact more directly with their patients. </p><p>Safety is a concern for employees and seniors while an organization is understaffed. Technology helps keep more accurate records and facilitates quicker communication. It can also prevent the spread of illness when touchless elements are in use. Good equipment can help retain the current workforce by prioritizing their comfort level. </p><p>Technology's power promotes a positive and healthy environment for frontline workers, which reduces burnout. Happier employees benefit everyone—patients, their families, and the leadership at each organization. Nurturing frontline care providers is key to sustaining individual organizations and strengthening the industry, especially while it grows in the coming years. Technology has positive outcomes for the entire senior care industry because of the direct benefit to employees who sustain it. <br><br><em>Bent Philipson is the founder of Philosophy Care, a consulting firm providing a range of services to skilled nursing facilities throughout New York and New Jersey.</em></p>2022-10-04T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Guest-Columns/PublishingImages/2022/BentPhilipson.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyBent PhillipsonEmployee burnout has reached a record high, with droves of quality staff members leaving their caretaking positions.
Innovative Technology Doesn’t Have to Be Out of Reach<p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2022/JuneJuly/PublishingImages/060722_tech_banner.jpg" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br></p><p>Robotics, intuitive software and devices, and innovations that can improve care and staffing are popping up all the time. However, budgets and funding for such technology are scant. While you may feel like a kid with empty pockets outside of a candy store, it’s important to stay on top of technology trends, and there are some innovative ways to bring them into your facilities.<br></p><p>From robots that can help with medication pass to devices that take vitals and send the information to physicians and other team members, many innovations can free staff from mundane tasks and the administrative/paperwork activities that weigh them down. </p><h3>Tech That Takes Burdens Off Staff</h3><p>“People aren’t using technology as effectively or efficiently as they could because there is a cost to being at the forefront of technological innovation,” said Rod Baird, founder of GPM, an Asheville, N.C.-based health information technology company. However, he added, “The balance is shifting to automation such as bedside monitors so staff don’t have to record information constantly. If you are still making people transfer information manually, it’s time-intensive and unsatisfying for team members who are already overburdened and would rather be spending time with their patients. We can expect to see more effort to implement electronic data exchange as part of efforts to attract and retain good staff.”<br></p><p>Elsewhere, Baird said, “Anything that facilitates the contemporaneous exchange of medication administration is critical because that is the root of so many things that can go wrong, especially post-discharge.” He added, “Anything you can do to close gaps in the electronic prescribing cycle is key to achieving better outcomes.” At the same time, technology that makes tasks more do-able and cuts risks will be welcomed by team members.</p><h3>Role of Robotics</h3><p>Robots will never replace human interactions, but increasingly robotics technology is showing promise for handling some simple but important tasks. Among the offerings&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Stanley Healthcare has created Pria, a voice-enabled tabletop robot that gives caregivers day-to-day insights about a patient’s adherence with prescription and over-the-counter medications. The robotic system also can schedule up to 28 medication doses and provide reminder alerts. It enables quick access to family members or caregivers via voice command and built-in camera for video calls.</li></ul><ul><li>The Mabu wellness coach, another tabletop robot, provides medication reminders and other alerts. It also monitors how the patient is feeling on a daily basis. This device is designed to encourage better patient engagement with practitioners and caregivers. The Mabu has a face and eyes to engage patients and interfaces that include voice response/activation and touchscreen interaction capabilities. </li></ul><ul><li>Smile robotics, a Japanese firm, has develop the ACUR-C, a robot that can serve food and drinks or collect trays of dirty dishes. Other companies, such as Bear Robotics, Pudu Robotics, and Keenon Robotics, also produce autonomous service robots.</li></ul><ul><li>The temi robot V3 is an autonomous personal AI assistant robot with pre-set locations that enables telemedicine visits, as well as connections with family and friends. </li></ul><p>Other technological innovations include wearables that can connect, analyze, and share data. For instance, the TENA SmartCare Change Indicator™ attaches a reusable sensor to the outside of an absorbent product. When it detects urine, it notifies family or caregiver via a smartphone app. This enables decisions about when to change products without intrusive personal checking. <br></p><p>Elsewhere, Toto’s Wellness Toilet scans the user’s body and their output, analyzes it, and provides wellness recommendations accordingly. Safely­You is a system that detects falls and notifies care staff who can immediately view video of the fall. This can help identify causes of falls and prevent similar incidents in the future.</p><h3>The Cost Conundrum</h3><p>While all these technological innovations hold promise for improving staffing and care, they come with a price tag. Particularly as long term care is coming out of a devastating pandemic, it’s hard to find the money for such expenditures. As American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) president and chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Parkinson has said, “Providers have spent tens of billions of dollars fighting the virus….Without adequate resources from lawmakers, financial challenges and access to quality care will worsen.”<br></p><p><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2022/JuneJuly/PublishingImages/DebbieMeade.jpg" alt="Debbie Meade" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;" />AHCA past board chair Debbie Meade, CEO of Health Management in Warner Robins, Ga., added, “During the pandemic, we saw the value of technology, particularly the use of telehealth.” But although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) enacted waivers to expand coverage for these services, there is little financial support to pay the equipment and devices involved and training for staff. <br></p><p>Generally, while everyone seems to agree about the value of technology, it continues to be a low funding priority. As Alex Bardakh, MPP, CAE, director of public policy and advocacy for AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, said during AMDA’s recent annual conference, “There was not one single mention of IT infrastructure [in the Biden Administration’s nursing home reform proposal]. We have to ensure we have interoperability and can work with our hospital partners and the entire health care sector.”<br></p><p>Baird noted, “There is a need for federal support for nursing homes to leverage and expand existing technologies and be able to access and implement high-tech innovations.” For instance, this may mean advocating for widespread use of up-to-date electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical surveillance in this care sector, as well as for legislation to incentivize facilities to adopt and use technology.<br></p><p>Nonetheless, Baird said, “Even though the capability to share information exists, facilities aren’t investing in seamless electronic communication. But the staffing crisis may prompt people to make the investment in those integrations to reduce otherwise required labor.”<br></p><p>Seamless and low-cost exchange of information in real time is possible. But, Baird said, “We haven’t gotten to the point where all parties involved can collaborate.” This hopefully will change moving forward as payors and regulators see and support collaboration, interoperability, and free exchange of information. <br></p><p>However, before investing heavily in any technology innovations, leadership should consider how these can streamline processes and help staff do their jobs better. A basic risk-benefit analysis can help determine where money spent on technology is likely to generate the greatest return on investment. At the same time, it is important to engage the staff who will be using the technology in these decisions.<br></p><p>Amber Bardon, CEO of the Parasol Alliance in Chicago, also suggested, “Before you can be successful with technological innovation, you need to make sure your core systems are updated. Some facilities are at the top of the life cycle on updates/replacements, staff training, and so on; others aren’t.” She also noted, “Start with an analysis of where you are and where you want to go. Establish a vision of your technology culture transformation.” This may involve establishing an IT committee to develop and execute a strategy, including identifying funding opportunities.<br></p><p>“There are no easy answers for bringing more technology into our facilities,” said Meade. For instance, she observed that few organizations are prepared for the cost of replacement equipment and upgrades. “There’s no funding available to replace computers, and outdated technology hurts patients and staff alike.”</p><h3>It Takes a Community</h3><p>Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it requires a community to invest in innovations that benefit residents and staff throughout the care continuum. “We need to partner with hospitals and other organizations and stakeholders with a vested interest in quality care to build telehealth systems and other technological innovations,” said Meade. “We need innovations that can help all of us work smarter, not harder.”<br></p><p>One opportunity is partnerships between nursing homes and technology stakeholders. “Partnerships with universities and other stakeholders can help provide facilities with access to innovative technology while they participate in pilots and studies,” suggested Meade. For instance, Susan Horn, Ph.D., senior scientist, Institute for Clinical Outcomes Research, and vice president of research, International Severity Information Systems, received funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to create a nationwide project to integrate information technology in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. As a result of the implementation of this technology, the prevalence of pressure ulcers was reduced by 33 percent among residents in 11 facilities. <br></p><p>Technology developers and vendors also can be partners for innovation. Meade said, “Facilities want technology, but they are struggling. Vendors can help us out be spreading out costs to make innovations more affordable.” <br></p><p>When census rebounds and various technologies become more affordable and accessible, it may be easier to take on new technology. In the meantime, AHCA/NCAL will continue to work with its members on ways to modernize facilities and use technology to provide quality care and attract and keep staff. Meade suggested, “We need to focus on what we do and not on the turmoil around us. We will be keeping an eye on technology issues and looking for ways to ensure a brighter future for long term care.” ​</p>2022-06-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2022/JuneJuly/PublishingImages/060722_technology.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyJoanne KaldyFrom robots that can help with medication pass to devices that take vitals and send the information to physicians and other team members, many innovations can free staff from mundane tasks and the administrative/paperwork activities that weigh them down.
The Critical Need for Telehealth Services in Skilled Nursing Facilities<p><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-2">ADVERTORIAL</strong></p><p>TapestryHealth recently created a simple but powerful info-graphic that illustrates many of the compelling reasons for including a fully integrated telehealth program in the medical infrastructure of any skilled nursing facility.&#160; In some facilities this may be centered around on-site care providers, in others remote care providers, and in most a combination of the two. But whatever your reason for considering this service – improved care, improved profitability, improved CMS rankings, improved reputations, improved hospitalization rates, or something else altogether - you’ll find support for your argument right here.</p><p>TapestryHealth provides one of the most innovative, customized, fully integrated telehealth programs in the country.&#160; In less than four years we have expanded from serving one facility to serving hundreds, representing thousands of total beds in more than 35 states. Our record speaks for itself, with documented reductions in hospitalizations of as much as 90%, and verified increases in reimbursements and profitability.&#160; If you’d like to learn more about how telehealth can help transform your facility, please call me directly at (203) 666-8945, or email me at <a href="mailto&#58;meisenberg@tapestryhealthc.om" target="_blank">meisenberg@tapestryhealth.com</a>.<em><br></em></p><p><em>Mordy Eisenberg is the co-founder and Chief Growth Officer of TapestryHealth, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare in skilled nursing facilities. Eisenberg is a LNHA and a volunteer EMT.&#160; <br><br></em></p><p><br><em></em></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">​<img src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2022/TapestryHealth-ShortVersion.png" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;475px;height&#58;2723px;" /></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Source Data for this info-graphic is available upon request. </span><br></p>2022-02-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2022/MordyEisenberg.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Technology;TelemedicineMordy EisenbergTapestryHealth recently created a simple but powerful info-graphic that illustrates many of the compelling reasons for including a fully integrated telehealth program in the medical infrastructure of any skilled nursing facility.
Chat with Provider’s Writers<p>​On Friday, Jan. 29, at 10&#58;00 am ET, <em>Provider’s </em>writers will take over the AHCA/NCAL Twitter account to take your questions about any of the three articles featured in the January digital issue. Readers will be able to tweet their questions by tagging their tweets with @ahcancal.</p><p>There’s something for everyone in the Technology Innovation issue. Below is a summary of the articles in the digital issue.</p><p><a href="https&#58;//pagepro.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=63330&amp;i=687740&amp;p=4">“The Telehealth Phenomenon”</a> follows providers’ abrupt initiation into virtual physician visits for their residents and patients and how they worked with vendor partners to establish routines that are now going smoothly. </p><p>In <a href="https&#58;//pagepro.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=63330&amp;i=687740&amp;p=10">“Cyber Security Alert!” </a>mega guru Steven Chies fills Senior Editor and Writer Patrick Connole in on all the ways criminals can worm their way into sensitive company data via phony emails. Chies also offers tips for how employees can spot them. </p><p>In the final article, <a href="https&#58;//pagepro.mydigitalpublication.com/publication/?m=63330&amp;i=687740&amp;p=18">“EMRs Assume Enhanced Role During Pandemic,” </a>Managing Editor Amy Mendoza reports a new boom in interest from providers for electronic medical records and the part they can play in safely monitoring patient care, tracking infections, and providing results quickly. </p><p>Share your questions on these topics and more this Friday, Jan. 29, at 10&#58;00 am. For questions, email Amy Mendoza at <a href="mailto&#58;amendoza@providermagazine.com">amendoza@providermagazine.com</a>.</p>2021-01-26T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/medical_tech.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyJoanne EricksonMark your calendars for a Friday morning tweet chat with Provider writers about three articles in its latest January issue.