Providers embracing technology bring in honors in second Tech Awards program

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Biscuit, a dog made by Hasbro, was used to help dementia residents at a California facility engage.
Biscuit, a dog made by Hasbro, was used to help dementia residents at a California facility engage.

The second annual McKnight's Long-Term Care News Excellence in Technology Awards begged the question: How can you compare to last year's storied winners?

In the case of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, the answer lay in submitting a dog that, well, actually begged. 

While “Biscuit” is not a real puppy, the use of the animatronic dog resulted in the community winning the Gold Award in the High Tech/High Touch category in the 2013 awards. McKesson sponsored the complete awards program.

An independent panel of judges chose an august winners list that included names such as Front Porch, Life Care Centers of America, The Terraces of Los Gatos, Golden LivingCenter-Indianapolis and Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation.

High Tech/High Touch top honors go to Front Porch Center

Academic researchers have created robotic animals specifically for healthcare settings, but Front Porch found a budget-friendly option made by a toy company: Hasbro's Biscuit, a lifelike dog marketed mostly for children. 

The initiative began with a five-week evaluation period at the Sunny View Care Center in Cupertino, CA. Socially withdrawn and cognitively low-functioning residents engaged with Biscuit, and results were “immediate and profound,” according to Front Porch Director Davis Park.

“Interaction prompted some to speak and sing who were previously not verbal,” he told McKnight's. “The device was a vehicle for group therapy sessions and discussions of recollections about pets and animals, enhancing the care delivery experience among staff.”

Shea Family earned the Silver Award in this category for its implementation of the Daylight IQ disease management software from COMS Interactive. Empowered by this technology, the six Shea facilities have decreased hospital readmissions by providing more hands-on, individualized care to each resident.

The Bronze Award went to Windsor Garden Care Center, which also won a certificate of merit in the Dignity category. The facility in East Orange, NJ, serves a diverse population that includes many young adults. Residents and staff collaborated to create a YouTube video, the “Windsor Work Out.”

Another Windsor Healthcare Communities facility, Canterbury Care & Rehabilitation Center, also received a certificate of merit. Residents utilize green screen technology, iPads and other technology to bring the Canterbury News Network to YouTube and a local channel in Cedar Grove, NJ. This “CNN” increases resident-caregiver interaction in many ways, such as through staff interviews.

Three Links Center in Northfield, MN, also earned a certificate of merit. The nonprofit implemented SpeechGear's Interact-AS technology to improve communication with residents who have hearing difficulties, and partnered with SpeechGear to develop dementia-specific features. These include audio playback of soothing messages from family members. 

Parker Jewish Institute helps improve outcomes for patients 

Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation earned the Gold Award in the Transitions Category. 

Parker Jewish clinicians use the Healthix Regional Health Information Exchange, which provides patient data from hospitals and other area healthcare providers. They also use the Continuum of Care Improvement through Information New York system, which includes an electronic transfer form with a focus on medication management.

A study during a six-month post-implementation period found that the CCITI NY system led to a 10% reduction in medication errors, according to Parker Jewish. The provider also says its readmission rate to a partner hospital was significantly lower than the rate for nursing homes not using the system. 

Life Care Centers of America received the Silver Award. With development vendors CTS and eMids Technologies, the company added a new feature, SofCare2, to its electronic health record system. This enables in-house doctors to perform medication reconciliation at the time of admission, drawing on data from hospitals and other external sources. It also enables creation of a discharge summary.

The Bronze Award went to Presence Life Connections, whose use of Vindicet's patient management system provides up-to-date information about individuals across the continuum of care. The technology provides shared patient views that are concise but rich in information, according to PLC. 

A certificate of merit went to the Wales Home in Quebec. When new residents arrive, they are given an AeroScout emergency call-bell bracelet, a wireless Internet device that is linked to caregivers' iPods. The company says this technology reduces anxiety around transitions into the facility, and it provides helpful data, such as caregiver response times.

Christian Park Village earned the other certificate of merit. The Michigan community coupled an incontinence program from Medline and a push to decrease alarms. Christian Park cut the number of wheelchair and bed alarms from 44 to two, and implemented the incontinence program for about a third of its residents.

Golden Living reduces antipsychotics through new system

Golden LivingCenter-Indianapolis is in the vanguard of facilities tackling medication management in innovative ways. For this, the skilled nursing provider received Innovator of the Year top honors.

The facility, which has an average daily census of 90 residents, was the first LivingCenter in Indiana to use the AlixaRx pharmacy system. It achieved impressive results, including a 15% reduction in antipsychotic use this year.  Quality of care also improved, staff members said.

Developed in partnership with Golden Living, the AlixaRx system offers 24/7, on-site access to more than 300 medications via automated dispensing units and electronic medication cabinets. 

The Silver Award went to Cantata Adult Life Services. The Illinois-based nonprofit used AOD's Answers™ EHR technology to turn around its skilled nursing services, which was seeing increased costs, lower customer satisfaction and stalled growth.

The transformation to a hard-wired EHR was maximized by eliminating workarounds and adopting a point-of-care program, according to the company.

AristaCare Health Services walked away with the Bronze. The provider, with locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, implemented an eSNF LLC telemedicine service that allows physicians to see and evaluate residents after hours. AristaCare says it has seen about a 40% decline in hospitalizations.

Canterbury Care & Rehabilitation Center, a Windsor Healthcare Communities facility, won  a certificate of merit for The Canterbury News Network media project, which broadcasts via YouTube and on a local channel in Cedar Grove, NJ. Residents serve as anchors and reporters.

Three Links Center implemented SpeechGear's Interact-AS technology to improve communication with residents who have difficulty hearing or need translation services, and partnered with SpeechGear to develop dementia-specific features, earning a certificate of merit.

At-a-glance ranking system created at Life Care Centers 

It's all about data at Life Care Centers of America, which took top honors in the Quality category. The company developed a program that provides at-a-glance facility rankings using the company's data analytics platform. 

The system ranks facilities based on information about resident conditions, such as weight loss and pressure ulcers. Users can view facilities by region and division to easily see which need special attention and which should be singled out for praise. It is a powerful technology solution that helps ensure quality across LCCA's more than 200 skilled nursing facilities.

The Silver Award went to Nexion Health Management Inc. for its use of Apple's FaceTime mobile application. The app enables wound care specialists to have virtual bedside access to examine and be involved with residents. 

Three Links earned the Bronze Award. It created a mobile computer cart to utilize Auditory Science's Interact-AS program, improving communication with residents who have difficulties hearing.

Two certificates of merit were given. The Campus of Anna Maria of Aurora in Ohio was honored for an implementation of the COMS Interactive Daylight IQ program, improving management of residents with complex conditions. Revera Nursing and Rehab received a certificate for its Interdisciplinary Walking Care Rounds Program, which involves cross-disciplinary members of a care team and has supported the creation of comprehensive electronic medical records.

The Terraces of Los Gatos thrives on smartbed technology

A fall can compromise a resident's dignity if it causes a loud alarm. Recognizing this, nonprofit operator The Terraces of Los Gatos implemented new smartbed technology — and won top honors in the Dignity category.

The California continuing care retirement community opted for a solution from BAM Labs for its skilled nursing units and undertook a comprehensive transformation based on the new system's capabilities. These include an FDA-approved biometric sensor beneath the mattress and HIPAA-compliant cloud-based monitoring. Staff receive alerts directly on their mobile devices, improving response time.

Jewish Senior Life achieved a first, walking away with both the Silver and Bronze awards in this category. The New-York based provider won Silver for implementing a Scan-Dent system, which uses radio frequency identification tags to help residents and caregivers quickly locate lost dentures, glasses and hearing aids.

It earned Bronze for its dining program, which combines an Alto-Shaam Combitherm CombiOven to create kosher molds of pureed food and its Optimus EMR electronic medical records technology. The pureed food is molded to create a more pleasing dining experience, and the EMR is used to track results. These have been impressive, including a 30% increase in stable weights for residents, according to the provider.  

Two certificates of merit were awarded, and both went to Windsor Healthcare Communities facilities. One went to Buckingham at Norwood, which has introduced iPod and iPad technology to residents through a series of group learning sessions. The facility in Norwood, NJ, also places special emphasis on how those with dementia can use mobile technology.

The other went to multiple winner Windsor Garden Care Center, which admits residents who are homeless. It acquired two desktop computers, which opened up new possibilities for residents. 


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