The COVID-19 pandemic has managed to expose just how senior care has slowed. Embracing the adaption of more advanced technology for the employees, and even the residents and providers are now scrambling to implement solutions.
As a result, technology providers are meeting a surge in demand, with telemedicine solutions and resident participation/communication tools being the most popular products. For some high-tech companies, this means a lot of brand new developments. These companies have made gradual progress over the years, but now they find themselves full of inquiries and requests.
Ginna Baik, CDW Healthcare Strategic Business Development Manager, said, in the entire industry, there is an increasing need for telemedicine technology solutions that can alleviate the spread of COVID-19. CDW is a Fortune 500 company that provides technical solutions to more than 250,000 customers in multiple industries, including seniors.
At the same time, providers that have invested heavily in technology in recent years are now working hard. Take Maplewood Senior Living Company as an example. In this era of distant society, they deployed robots to interact with residents.
Recently Dr. Bill Thomas said that even though this is a lousy pandemic, it is finally pushing seniors living into a more digital era unlike before.
Virtual Care Explosion Due to Telehealth
CEO James Hamilton told Advanced Housing News that VitalTech, a Dallas-based virtual health platform, will squeeze its projected 2020 demand into one month.
The company partnered with Ziegler Link-Age Funds to provide 90-day free access to its VitalCare telemedicine platform for advanced living and long-term care facilities to offer a way to respond to a pandemic.
VitalCare is equipped to use low energy Bluetooth devices to measure any vital signs which are stored in the cloud. The more information that gets collected, the platform allows caregivers to monitor the condition of residents better and act quickly when vital signs and medical emergencies change dramatically. It also provides residents with better self-care facilities that promote health through improved nutrition, exercise, and reminder medication management.
Elie Goodman, vice president of marketing, said that in the past month, the call volume of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based telemedicine platform MeMD was three to three and a half times the average call volume, and website traffic increased by 115%.
MeMD’s customers include Holiday Retirement, an independent living giant headquartered in Winter Park, Florida.
In response to the surge in interest, MeMD has established a COVID-19 landing page and is analyzing other landing pages and where traffic is coming from to better target potential new customers
MeMD specializes in “virtual emergency care,” enabling users to identify and treat standard diseases such as flu and sinusitis. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Lorenzo said that COVID-19 is very suitable for the platform’s care model.
Before the pandemic, some visionary operators included telemedicine in their technology plans. Maplewood Senior Living works through multiple telemedicine platforms provided by clinical groups and insurance providers. It has established a large, tech-savvy medical team led by nurse practitioners and licensed social workers to ease the burden of residents moving away from the property. COO Shane Herret said. This operator in Westport, Connecticut, manages 16 communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio.
Scott Smith, director of experience and education, said that during and after the pandemic, Thrive Senior Living also hopes to incorporate telemedicine into its community. Thrive, headquartered in Atlanta, has 13 communities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia.
Thrive is seeking to use telemedicine to limit the risk of exposing residents and employees to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. It would allow team members more time to spend quality time with residents. Smith admits that under the asylum law, telemedicine may be challenging to implement in the community, but Thrive hopes that once the market relaxes orders, it can speed up the process in its community.
However, even if the provider cannot launch an enterprise-level telemedicine service during COVID-19’s lock-in period, other options are available. CDW’s Baik said, for example, video conferencing can make it easier for nursing staff to consult with patients.
At the same time, integrating predictive analytics into a telemedicine platform to measure the entire community may lead to considerable changes in medical services.
Need to improve infrastructure
During the pandemic, lock-in measures were not the only obstacles that senior life providers faced in enhancing their technical games. Many high-end residential buildings have a history of about two decades and do not have it equipped with an infrastructure that supports a powerful technology platform.
Baik said that with the promotion of more technologies, providers are now seeking infrastructure solutions. They are already considering a more comprehensive approach to equip buildings with sufficient WiFi as well as Internet capabilities once the COVID-19 pandemic has started to slow.
Better communication platform
Resident isolation is one of the main disadvantages of targeting high-end housing in any infection response plan. Incurable infectious diseases such as COVID-19 may block the community for weeks or even months.
Sarah Hoit, CEO, and co-founder of ConnectedLiving said the pandemic had stimulated more interest in video platforms. Allowing residents in remain in touch with employees, family and each other.
Headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, ConnectedLiving provides a full range of technical solutions to keep residents informed and stay in touch with care providers and their families. The service uses community digital signage, mobile applications for mobile platforms, smart home and voice technology, in-room TV content, wearable devices, and printed calendars and newsletters to enable residents, employees, and prospective customers. That keeps the family aware of the situation in the community and understands the situation.
As the pandemic sweeps across the country, ConnectedLiving’s interest in its services has increased significantly, which has not been lost on Hoit
Additionally, Maplewood uses virtual and augmented reality technology to maintain the participation of residents, and has deployed the Temi robot in its community, which can learn available access points during the lock-in period, and interact with residents by playing music and socialize with residents.