Technology boosts nursing home care, study reveals

Alexander: Quality improves when the right tech tools are used.
Alexander: Quality improves when the right tech tools are used.

Long-term care administrators can expect to see an even greater push to share data electronically with hospitals and other post-acute facilities,  thanks to new research out of the University of Missouri. 

The study shows that increasing information technology sophistication in nursing homes leads to improvements in healthcare quality measures.

It's a sector that hasn't seen much research about the impact of technology on patient care, likely because nursing homes do not receive the same level of investment in technology as hospitals, said author Gregory Alexander, Ph.D., RN, a nursing professor at the University of Missouri.

“Approximately 16,000 nursing homes exist in the United States, and more than one million older Americans depend on nursing homes for their care,” Alexander said. “Yet despite the significant role nursing homes play in healthcare, nursing homes do not receive the same financial incentives to upgrade their IT systems as hospitals.”

In the study, researchers assessed national trends in IT adoption every year over a three-year period using an IT sophistication survey. The assessment provided scores based on IT capabilities, extent of IT use and IT integration, and how they are used in resident care, clinical support and administrative activities. More than 800 skilled nursing facilities completed the surveys, and outcome measures were captured through Nursing Home Compare. 

The team found that technology is becoming a greater part of resident care in areas where physicians and nurses work, not just in areas of administration and billing. 

“We found that as IT sophistication increases in resident care, there appears to be a positive impact on quality measures,” Alexander said. 

Study results were published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality