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The Role of Technology in Post-Acute Care

It’s certainly not news that technology is changing the world and just about everything we do on both a day-to-day and long-time basis. From the way we communicate; purchase items for the home and office; interact with friends; family and coworkers; and visit the doctor; to traveling, banking and listening to music or watching movies and television, you’d be hard-pressed to find a part of your life that hasn’t been touched by technology over the past few years. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to remember a time when we could make a phone call, drive to work, read a book, take a photograph, or do much else, without using technology. 

That’s why it should come as no surprise that technology has changed the world of post-acute care. Facilities like South Coast Post Acute have seen advanced technology become a standard in skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities. They are embracing technological solutions to improve patient experiences while also supporting their staffs to provide the highest levels of patient care and safety. With so many options available to them and their need to spend money in the most efficient manner possible, post-acute facilities must carefully choose which technologies they utilize on a regular basis. While the first consideration is always clinical effectiveness, other aspects factor into making purchasing decisions. For example, facilities should insist that new technologies are easily adaptable for the members of their staff – because a happy and empowered staff leads to satisfied patients. If technology can’t be easily adapted into workflow or demands, that most precious commodity – time – it will probably be ignored. Long-term care facilities must also prioritize patients’ families, working to ensure they understand and are comfortable with technologies they choose to embrace. After all, those families are entrusting their loved ones to facilities like ours, and well-designed technology solutions can go a long way toward easing any concerns they may have. In a similar fashion, hospitals which refer their patients to long-term care facilities are trusting them to continue to provide a high level of care. Their approval is important, and when they see a facility is well-equipped with the most advanced available technologies, it instills them with a level of confidence that is important to have. Here are a couple of ways South Coast Post Acute implements technology to ensure we continue our tradition of being state-of-the-art and patient-friendly.

We’re working to decrease falls. One of the paramount challenges of rehabilitation is reducing the number of falls – which are one of the leading causes of serious health issues among the older adult population. South Coast is proud to say we’ve embraced an extensive roster of tools designed to prevent falls. Earlier this year, we acquired the Biodex Balance System, which is lauded as the leader in the field of fall prevention. The Balance System SD was engineered from its outset to meet the needs of patients looking for ways to improve balance, increase agility, develop muscle tone, and treat a wide variety of pathologies. This groundbreaking system features an intuitive, easy-to-follow touchscreen operation. It was designed to guide users step-by-step through testing protocols and training modes in both static and dynamic formats. This extraordinarily versatile system provides a fast, accurate Fall Risk Screening and Conditioning Program for older adults. Based on well-established science, it uses technology to create an objective and efficient program, using closed-chain, weight-bearing assessment, and training for lower extremity patients; and adding the objective balance assessment component to a concussion management program. Modifying the factors that lead to falls increases mobility and confidence, which are both critical to maintaining personal independence. The Biodex Balance System SD can identify a potential problem in just a couple of minutes, using a simple combination of risk-factor screening including analytical balance testing, in conjunction with universally accepted normative data and medical protocols. If a patient is found to be at risk of falling, there is an array of interventions and exercises that can help restore balance and reduce the risk. Intervention is supported by patient education and exercise plans.

We’re engaging patients in their rehabilitation. Getting patients actively involved in their own rehabilitation is a key component to eventual success. When a patient is engaged, you can expect quicker, more effective results from their rehabilitation. Generating clear, measurable outcomes throughout the rehab process is also important to our caring, professional staff. South Coast turns to technology to incentivize our patients to participate wholeheartedly, providing our staff with accurate measurements of progress. 

Today’s healthcare industry is witnessing advancements in healthcare-related technology that are promising to change the course of health and wellness in ways we never could have imagined. These technological advancements are happening so fast, it’s difficult to keep up with them. Just twenty years ago, healthcare communities could routinely get away with adopting new technology at a glacial pace compared what we have grown accustomed to in 2019, making changes every few years. Back then, patients understandably had fewer expectations when it came to medical treatment, whether it was over the short or long term. Today, patients are far savvier and knowledgeable when it comes to understanding what they expect from a healthcare provider. 

As the healthcare industry faces some of the biggest disruptions in the history of modern medicine, a new study finds a meager portion of IT professionals believe their bosses are “digitally literate.” The study, from ISACA, a global non-profit that provides IT governance leadership and resources, found that just 53 percent of IT professionals have a solid understanding of big data analytics – the driving force behind much of the medical industry’s technological advancements.

One area of healthcare that is seeing solid improvement in acknowledging advances in technology is post-acute care, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). For the IT staff and decision-makers of long-term post-acute care facilities, being able to stay connected with patients is a point of growing concern. Here are three IoT-based technologies that are helping care providers to offer better long-term post-acute care services.

Evidence-based guidelines for better transition management. One consideration is at the center of the long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) industry: expensive readmission penalties, along with potential payment structures that place providers at higher risk. As discharge plans have become increasingly more complex – with one mistake leading to readmission as well as resulting penalties  – getting the transition correct the first time is of paramount importance. The most prevalent gap between acute and post-acute care is the transition of the hospital to a care facility. This gap is caused by poor communication between the transferring provider (hospital) and the receiving provider (care facility.) Only about a third of discharge summaries ever reach the receiving care teams, and another third never receive documents from the hospital. This issue can be helped with – you guessed it – Cloud-based technologies and mobile devices, that allow evidence-based guidelines for transition management. 

Remote patient monitoring. One issue the LTPAC industry deals with is compliance. To help with this, IoT technologies have led to digital pills that come with sensors about as big as a grain of sand. A patient wears a tiny sensor patch that interacts with the pill’s sensor and a smartphone application. Once a patient takes their medication, the sensor activates and sends information to the sensory patch, which then sends the information to their smartphone, which uploads the information to the Cloud. With this amazing technology, the microscopic sensor is able to measure everything from the time a pill was taken, what time the rested, and how physically active the patient was to their body temperature, and even their heart rate. Patients who don’t comply with the medication regimen as prescribed can cause expensive readmittances, trips to the emergency room and needless office visits, all of which cost the nation’s healthcare system approximately $290 billion a year. 

Wander management technologies help to keep track of high-risk patients. Technology is now capable of monitoring patients, especially those who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. A large number – 60 percent – of Alzheimer’s patients wander from their home or care facility. That’s about 30,000 reported cases a year. Sadly, one out of fourteen of those patients will lose their life if they are not found within fourteen hours, and those fatality numbers increase with each twelve-hour block they aren’t found. These devices fall into the category of “wearable technologies.” Family and caregivers can set up a “safe zone” and will be alerted if the patient leaves the perimeter. If the patient gets out eyesight, the GPS tracker will send their location in real-time to any mobile device that has the application. Since that GPS tracker is powered by a battery, users get an alert when it’s time to recharge the device. 

South Coast Post Acute is a private healthcare community providing post-acute rehabilitative, memory and long-term care health services. For more than 40 years, we’ve provided patients with a combination of world-class treatment and exceptional care. We deliver specialized, quality care with compassion and spirit. We treat patients like family. We believe the true power of healing lies not only in the tools and knowledge of medicine but also in the hearts of people. It is our mission to deliver an unparalleled passion and commitment to ensuring our patients receive exceptional, compassionate care; every time, every touch. South Coast Post Acute is the post-acute community of choice in Southern California.


Real People. Remarkable Care. South Coast Post Acute.

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