Tech-savvy nursing homes gain edge, study finds

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Health information technology helps nursing homes coordinate care and protect resident privacy, according to a leading researcher on the issue.

“In nursing homes that have technology, much of the information is kept close to the patient and communication occurs more often at the bedside rather than at nursing stations, which is ideal,” says Gregory Alexander, Ph.D., of the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri. “Staff without IT rely on more creative ways to communicate, such as posting a photo of a water droplet on patients' doors to indicate the patients need to be hydrated. This may create issues for privacy and leaves room for misinterpretation among staff.”

Alexander reached his conclusions through his work as co-principal investigator of a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services research project. The project's goal is to reduce rehospitalizations among nursing home residents. It is funded through a $14.8 million grant. Alexander's latest report, “Case studies of IT sophistication in nursing homes: A mixed method approach to examine communication strategies about pressure ulcer prevention practices,” was published January in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics.

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