McKnight’s Technology Awards highlight innovation, dedication and quality of care

Whether it was reducing hospital readmissions or better tracking of incontinence, striking use of technology to improve resident care characterized the 2017 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards winners.

An independent panel of judges honored Greystone Healthcare Management, Dunwoody Village, Mather LifeWays, Illuminate HC and Lexington Health Network with top Gold Awards in five distinct categories. 

“This year’s McKnight’s Tech Award winners are an indicator of some of the best work that providers can do when they put their collective minds together,” McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor said. “It never ceases to amaze me how creative and compassionate our entrants are. Residents and resident care are the ultimate winners with providers like these.”

CareRise Index was the exclusive sponsor of the McKnight’s Tech Awards competition, which drew entries from around the nation in each category. 

Greystone Healthcare

Greystone Healthcare Management, based in Tampa, FL, received the Gold in the Transitions category for its management of resident progressions among levels of care.

GHN established the role of a transitional care coordinator, whose efforts help a patient make a successful re-entry into the community. The results are a reduced average length of stay and fewer rehospitalizations, according to Gregg Clavijo-Hopper, Greystone Vice President of Business Development.

“The thing we are most proud of is decreasing our hospitalizations and having patients end up with more successful outcomes,” he said. “The goal was to help our patients from becoming sicker and sicker.” 

The transitional care coordinator meets with the patient and family and develops a plan, Clavijo-Hopper explained. Afterward, the care coordinator schedules the first appointment with a primary care physician after SNF discharge, reconciles medications, coordinates all community-based services and follows up with a patient for up to 90 days after discharge. 

Premier Health Care Management received the Silver Award for its use of ADT notification software Patient Ping, which it began using in September 2016. Caregivers can now track patients from when they enter a SNF until 90 days post-discharge. Scheduling primary care physician appointments reduced hospital readmissions by around 50% for those in the Ping system, compared to those who were not, the provider said.

Kindred Healthcare received the Bronze Award for its creation of the nationwide Kindred Contact Center, which features a direct line for patients and families to learn where to place a loved one. 

Charlie’s Place Activity and Respite Center in Baton Rouge, LA, received a Certificate of Merit for its use of the It’s Never 2 Late system. Pruitt Health Fitzgerald Nursing Home in Georgia also received a Certificate of Merit for using observations and data to address resident dissatisfaction.

Dunwoody Village

Efforts by Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square, PA, to address the problem of incontinence and toilet program management led the operator to the Gold Award in the Dignity category.

The continuing care retirement community adopted the Mpower Rounding smartphone application to forecast times residents needed to use the restroom, and to alert certified nursing assistants when to take the residents.

To make the program work, aides record information on a tablet at the bedside as to when residents use the restroom. The data then helps predict the next time the resident will need to go to the toilet.

“The CNAs are documenting whether the resident had a successful toileting trip or were incontinent,” said Brandon Jolly, Director of Health Services at Dunwoody. “Based on whether they were successful or not successful, the algorithm recalculates. It creates a new schedule for that particular resident.”

Mpower was able to validate a 71% reduction in incontinence with the participating residents. In addition to the reduction in incontinence, falls for these same residents dropped by 54%, as residents often fall at night when trying to reach the bathroom.

“This is where medicine is moving: Not waiting to figure out what the needs are, but actually predicting,” Jolly said. “Aides are proactively anticipating the needs of the residents, and customer service has improved.”

The Village at Marymount in Garfield Heights, OH, was named the Silver winner for working with the Medtronic RESTORE Program to implement its FDA-approved treatment initiative for overactive bladder. The community is aiming for the treatment to reduce incontinence by around 50%. 

The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland in Altamont, NY, earned Bronze in the category for creating a mobile app that gives residents more support. The community is using Samsung Galaxy smart tablets retrofitted with its applications and technology, and placed in every room for subacute admissions.

Kane Allegheny County Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers in Pennsylvania earned a Certificate of Merit for working with The Teepa Snow Organization, Highmark and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation to create a four-hour program for the Kane Network Drive. This program has been used to provide training to more than 900 Kane employees

Mather LifeWays

Mather LifeWays of Evanston, IL,  earned the Gold Award in the High Tech/High Touch category.

Mather introduced the“talking pen” technology in 2015. It includes Mantra Lingua Penpal, Pen Friend and Livescribe Echo pens as an asset to the operator’s art therapy program. After residents create their art, they can speak a story, memory or song in response to their artwork. The pen will play back audio content when touched, which allows staff, visitors and family to hear the story behind the art.

“People were sharing personal and meaningful things,” Caroline Edasis, Mather LifeWays Art Therapy manager, said. “It really brought all the images to life. Hearing the voice changes the relationship.”

Residents with dementia can participate more fully in art-related programs and be creative, she said. The use of the smartpen technology at Mather also has been observed and documented in research collaboration between Mather and the Northwestern University Department of Communication.

BMG Senior Living earned Silver for its use of the HeartLegacy resident engagement app. BMG has 20 independent, assisted living and memory support communities in the South. Staff members have used the video feature to let residents send video messages to loved ones, ranging from health updates to birthday greetings.

Merrill Gardens, which has 30 locations on the West Coast and in the South, won Bronze in the High Tech/High Touch category for its use of Meural. The Meural Canvas is a digital canvas with access to a curated collection of 30,000 licensed pieces of art that can be run through an app, dashboard or gesture control, and allows residents to share their experiences through art. 

The O’Neill Centre in Toronto earned a Certificate of Merit for its Music & Memory program through The Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto-iPod Project. Windsor Healthcare Communities, headquartered in New Jersey, also earned a merit certificate for its use of a drone with virtual reality glasses. Seniors using the DJJ Goggles can see 360-degree coverage while the drone is flying.

Lexington Health Network

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

Starting in July 2012, the system used a third-party telemedicine service for after-hours changes in condition management, explained 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.

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 treating 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. It also 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 the Innovator of the Year category. Out of 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. 

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. More than 18 months ago, eMenuCHOICE® was made available to non-Lyngblomsten facilities.

Masonic Homes of Kentucky Inc. 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.

Illuminate HC

Illuminate HC operators saw a “consistent and direct” correlation between delays in call-light response times and avoidable, negative patient experiences. 

The goal was to answer every call light quickly, with the first responder assessing the request and finding a way to address it. As part of a team restructuring process, a certified nursing assistant supervisory position called “The Quarterback” is responsible for all initial responses, then assigning other staff members.

“The goal is to get every single call light answered in 30 seconds,” said Scott Sklar, Director of Research and Development. “The QB can handle multiple units. There was originally some apprehension by floor staff of the QB concept, but they came to see it as a way to be a cohesive unit.”

The Illuminate Staff mobile device is wearable and lets staff receive tasks, communicate status/progress of the tasks, request assistance as needed and also access basic PT information. The idea was to channel the efficiencies of the hospitality industry when, for example, a customer orders room service.

Since the system’s implementation, piloted at Warren Barr Gold Coast in Chicago, there has been a 39% reduction in the actual call-light pulls, which Sklar attributes to more frequent rounding and renewed confidence the call-lights will be answered. There was a 20% reduction in call-light response time after the first quarter of deployment, and a 50% reduction by the fourth quarter of 2016, he noted.

“It’s more than a product. It’s a philosophy,” said Illuminate HC CEO Yair Zuckerman.

Nexion Health Management Inc. achieved the Silver Award in the Quality category for using iDocsWeb-Telemedicine for 11 of its affiliates. Nexion found that in those 11 facilities, seven had improved their Medicare 30-Day All Cause Rehospitalization rates to below their 2015 baseline performance. One, McKinney Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in McKinney, TX, improved its RPM rate to 14.81%, which was a 34% improvement from the 2015 baseline.

The Bronze Award was won by HighPointe onMichigan in Buffalo, NY, for its use of a software system to improve quality outcomes. Within six months, its readmission rate went from 24% to 9%.  By the end of the first year, it had saved $400,000 in pharmaceutical costs and $100,000 in laboratory charges while also increasing its Medicare star rating by one star. 

Certificates of Merit in this category were awarded to:

• Plaza Health Network in Miami for its telemedicine/telemetry program, which allows for real-time remote monitoring of patients and a result of fewer hospital readmissions.

• Maryland-based Erickson Senior Living for working with Touchtown to create an interactive app called My Erickson. The integrated digital platform that supports all of the app features is called Erickson Now, which allows staff to manage or update content in a single tool, and publish it to several types of media.

• Wellspring of Milwaukee for using the Gentell FastCare wound management program, allowing it to input documentation required for the MDS.

Judges panel

Kathryn Brod

President and CEO

LeadingAge Ohio

Zach Cattell



Scott Code

Associate Director

LeadingAge CAST 

Patti Cullen


Care Providers of Minnesota

Linda Elizaitis


CMS Compliance Group

Steve Fromm

Board Chairman

American College of Health Care Administrators

Jade Gong


Jade Gong & Associates

Frank Grosso

Executive Director and CEO

American Society of
Consultant Pharmacists

Christopher Laxton

President and CEO

AMDA — The Society for
Post-Acute and Long Term Care Medicine

Kris Mastrangelo

President and CEO

Harmony Healthcare

Cynthia Morton

Executive Vice President

National Association for the Support of Long Term Care

Gina Zimmermann

Executive Director, LTC

The Joint Commission