While health tech has seen rapid, widespread adoption over the past decade, some areas of the healthcare industry that could benefit greatly have been slow adopters — particularly among senior care.
But between prolonged staffing shortages and the projection that the number of Americans aged 65 and older will double to more than 98 million by 2060, elder care must accelerate its tech adoption in order to drive efficiencies and meet increasing demand.
One key area that’s ripe for disruption in driving several operational and care-based improvements at scale is remote patient monitoring (RPM) enhanced with AI. While we commonly talk about tech in terms of ROI, it’s crucial to look at the larger picture of what increasing connectivity between patients and caretakers can do for the future of elder care.
Here are the three aspects of senior care that will flourish with increased RPM deployment utilizing AI:
1. Staff experience & reducing burnout
As you know, many nursing homes run on tight budgets and face staffing challenges — both of which have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. This combination leads to overworked staff who don’t have the support or tools they need to efficiently care for their patients. In many cases, clinicians are expected to do their rounds, visiting each patient for a wellness check, and by the time they finish, they have a short break before starting all over again.
By introducing more RPM into workflows, caretakers can see improved operational efficiency while lessening any task overload. Take RPM tools that offer fall detection support, for example. These allow staff to monitor several patients at once while spending time focusing on those who need care the most.
Integrating RPM tech grants staff the confidence that they’re not missing any major health concerns, or — if something does happen — they can be alerted and immediately address the issue. RPM technologies can also help caretakers better understand the cause of a medical issue and get the patient the interventions they need sooner. Altogether, AI-enabled RPM tools that create efficiencies at a personal workload level will lower staff burnout and give them the opportunity to do more (and more meaningful) work.
2. Improved patient outcomes & preventing (re)admissions
RPM is one of the next big revolutions in care. Integrating aspects of healthcare delivery into the home environment allows patients of all ages the opportunity to live autonomously, and senior care is no exception. There are several types of senior-support RPM tools that can offer individuals the ability to live as they please.
These senior-specific RPM solutions range from wearables to wall-mounted panic buttons and vision AI sensors that connect seniors to care. While wearables can be a convenient option, they should be used on a case-by-case basis. As many caretakers are familiar with, patients may forget to charge or wear devices or may not be tech-savvy enough to understand them, leading to user error. It’s crucial for caretakers to take stock and consider what will work best for these seniors. For instance, wearables are not suited for memory care communities — but vision AI-enabled sensors work as well in the community setting as they do at home because they circumvent many user error-related challenges.
By considering what works best for residents before investing in a new solution, senior care leaders will be able to deploy tech aides that prevent medical episodes, like falls, and drive improved outcomes when episodes do occur. Some estimates even show AI can reduce future fall risk by 60% and reduce ER visits by up to 80%.
3. Family peace of mind
Family members always want the best for their loved ones, and when nursing homes leverage RPM tools, these can help them feel more at ease about their loved one’s well-being. They’ll feel confident that their loved one is receiving the privacy they deserve while knowing that if they need help, there are safeguards in place to ensure issues are caught and responded to immediately.
Particularly if an elder family member requires more assistance, establishing and building trust with caregivers is essential. By blending human intervention and technology, prevention and detection is effective.
Furthermore, increasing connectivity with the right RPM tools leads to personal workload efficiencies that decrease nursing home staff burnout, boosting employee experience and retention. It also ensures that patients can develop strong relationships with their caretakers while maintaining independence. In all, AI-enabled RPM capabilities can help strengthen feelings of empathy, respect, and ease in the elder care space for everyone involved.
Yamin Durrani is the president of Kami Vision.
The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.