Innovating in telemedicine has been a priority of Lexington Health Network in Lombard, IL, for the past five years. Its dedication has resulted in the Innovator of the Year Gold Award in the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology competition.

Starting in July 2012, the system used a third-party telemedicine service for after-hours changes in condition management, explained LHN Chief Information Officer Paul Knight. But it lacked some of the interoperability services and features the system wanted, so Knight led the charge to create a new system.

“It started as an idea that has translated to a business plan,” Knight told McKnight’s.

“It’s creative thinking and action like this that sets high-quality operators apart — and earns recognition, including our ‘Innovator’ Gold Award,” said McKnight’s Editorial Director and Associate Publisher John O’Connor.

By November 2014, Lexington had developed the first generation of “LexConnect,” implementing it in 10 skilled nursing facilities by January. The first version included a medical-grade cart with high-definition video conference. LHN has offered use of LexConnect to any physician following patients within the system. In 2015, LHN assessed 330 patients and had 77% of them managed in place within its skilled nursing facilities. That grew to 1,124 patients in 2016, with 87% managed in place. That year, LHN established Curatess (formerly Connected for Care) as a way to support patients in post-acute settings and developed a second-generation LexConnect.

“We now have a pretty slick tool, all generated in-house,” Knight said.

Peconic Landing at Southold Inc. in Greenport, NY, won the Silver Award in prize in the ‘Innovator of the Year’ category. In a desire to create a “go-to” guide for the community, it developed the Community Life smartphone application. The app lets members submit work orders or transportation requests, and management can send notifications directly to staff. Communications Specialist Mia Carroll spearheaded the project. The community said that more than 300 people have downloaded the app since November.

Lyngblomsten in St. Paul, MN, won the Bronze award for its development of eMenuCHOICE® , a web-based mobile software application for meal-ordering. The system has photos plus audio descriptions of menu items, and the system can flag allergies, special diets or diet changes. Residents can use iPads or tablets to order what they would like, and family members can be involved with meal selection. More than 18 months ago, eMenuCHOICE was made available to non-Lyngblomsten facilities.

Masonic Homes of Kentucky and Westside Terrace Healthcare each received Certificates of Merit. Masonic Homes created a blended online Nurse Aide Training program that fully used the American Health Care Association’s How to Be a Nurse Assistant curriculum. Westside began deploying the ReadyMeds STATPack powered by Cubex and offered through Turenne PharMedCo Pharmacy Services. This has allowed the facility to improve access to medication and safety, while decreasing costs.

Winners for the remaining McKnight’s Tech Awards categories — High Tech/High Touch; Dignity; Quality; and Transitions — will be announced daily through Monday, Oct. 16. The McKnight’s Tech Awards program is sponsored by CareRise.