The launch of the sixth edition of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards saw it double in size, multiplying the effects of its original mission: Celebrating how operators use technology to better their communities and residents’ lives.

“This year’s winners show that technology is making great inroads into post-acute care settings,” said John O’Connor, editorial director for McKnight’s.

STANLEY Healthcare was the event’s Platinum Sponsor. Netsmart was the Skilled Care track Gold Sponsor.

Winning entries were deemed the best at describing the technology involved, how it was used — and most importantly, the benefits that resulted.

Quality: Golden Hill Nursing

It’s not every day that a provider can say it has reduced readmission rates by 50% on its subacute unit.

But Golden Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Kingston, NY, did just that. And in doing so, it paved the way to Gold in the Quality category.

The provider went live with its TeliStat™ Restorative Care Unit with 25 beds at the end of 2015. Partnering with TeliStat allowed Golden Hill to focus on telemonitoring and creating rehab in a more home-like setting. Each patient admitted to the unit has a portable Wi-Fi cellular cardiac monitor that registers real-time data 24 hours a day.

“We were really able to create a subacute unit that was very effective and prevented readmissions,” said Edward Farbenblum, executive vice president of VestraCare. Before starting with TellStat, he said, the readmission rate was around 20%. It was down to 4.6% in the last audit for the most complex patients in the building.

“We’re always looking for cutting edge products and ways to become a real subacute model,” he told McKnight’s.

Other Quality winners:

• NCH HealthCare, Anderson in South Carolina, won Silver for the Telehealth Solution PLLC. The provider started using the telehealth program for physicians on call overnight and on weekends.

• Woodhaven Nursing, Alzheimer’s and Rehabilitation Care Center in Lumberton, NC, won Bronze for its use of Epic, which it began using in November 2017. Since then, medication errors have decreased, and staff is able to see a fuller medical record for the patient, including his or her history.

Dignity: Westminster-
Canterbury

Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, VA, used innovative bedside technology to boost engagement, allowing it to land the Gold Award in the Dignity category.

The community launched a clinical trial through the Birdsong Initiative to find if digital engagement helped residents’ moods. It did, with results that included a 55% decrease in depression. Participants had an overall 7% decrease in blood pressure.

However, continuing using the engagement software was too expensive for individual bedside use, CEO Ben Unkle said. In frustration, his team partnered in May with engineering company TMM Groupe to create its own in-room engagement tool called “The Birdsong Tablet: No mind left behind.”

That cost is less than discounted in-house cable TV, he told McKnight’s.

Other Dignity winners:

• Saint Agnes Urgent Care in Fresno, CA, won Silver for its use of wall boards to list medical conditions.

• Avamere Rehabilitation of Eugene in Oregon won Bronze for creating a sleep program that increased cognition (BIMS score), decreased depression, increased satisfaction, decreased wounds and reduced the use of sleep aids.

High Tech/High Touch:
Caribou Rehab

Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center in Maine won Gold in the High Tech/High Touch category for its use of strobe switches on wheelchairs.

First, the team mounted inexpensive strobe lights on the ceiling. Then, it ordered wireless on/off switches that it put on some resident wheelchairs.

When the strobe triggers, staff know one of the residents outdoors wants to come in. Strobes are at each end of the building by the nurse stations.

“It’s a matter of making use of new technology to solve an age-old problem, which is: How do you allow a resident to wander the grounds freely and have the means of being connected back to your facility?” said administrator Phil Cyr. “This is a wireless option and has decent range to it. It’s simple to operate. You don’t need a lot of manual dexterity.”

Other High Tech/High Touch winners:

• Good Shepherd Community in Sauk Rapids, MN, won Silver for the “anytime dining” program through Aramark.

• Christian Village Communities in Mason, OH, won Bronze in High Tech/High Touch for using Palarum’s smart socks. The “Patient is Up” sock gives information to physical therapists about weight-bearing ability and balance.

Innovator of the Year:
Marquis

Marquis Health Services in New Jersey had an ambitious goal: To manage every aspect of operations.

Its efforts in building a web portal and business intelligence system that interfaces with each part of its organization landed it the Gold Award as Innovator of the Year.

“What makes our BI solution so unique is that everything is focused from an operator’s perspective,” former Marquis Director of Business Analytics Ken Berger told McKnight’s.

“There is no data for data’s sake. Every analysis is meant to answer a question or solve a problem that we deal with on a regular basis.”

Features of the system include detailed analysis and trend reports, plus dynamic visualizations and email alerts.

The system has been spun off into its own company, SNF Metrics, of which Berger is the chief operating officer. Apps such as a referral calculator, budget tool and grievance tracker are featured in the system.

Other Innovator of the Year winners:

• Ocean Healthcare Network, based in Lakewood, NJ, won Silver for its use of the Triple-Care telemedicine system.

• ABCM Corporation in Iowa won Bronze for its use of the Tapestry Telehealth PLCC platform for telemedicine.

Transitions: Cantex

Cantex Continuing Care Network in Texas won Gold in the Transitions category for its use of the NexusConnexions. In partnership with them, Cantex developed a transitional care program allowing the provider to identify gaps and prevent hospital readmissions.

“Through telephonic outreach we have been able to address real-time clinical concerns and prevent patients from going back to the hospital post-discharge from the SNF,” said Lara Cline, RN, MSN, the director of care coordination at Cantex. “We also are identifying, in real time, when patients who do go back to the hospital after their SNF stay would be counted in our SNF VBP penalties. This gives us real-time data for facility focus and opportunities to capture patients back to our facility, home health, or assist them in their home to prevent a readmission.”

Through hard work, they are improving care, she added.

Other Transitions winners:

• Illuminate HC in Illinois won Silver for its use of tablets and new alerts. This includes a digital door tablet that can be mounted outside a resident room, a “Your Day, Your Way” scheduling app that lets residents schedule activities, and discreet alert options for staff to request immediate assistance.

• Signature HealthCARE of Norfolk in Virginia won Bronze for its use of 2nomi to create a biographical photo book of the resident’s life story.

KISS: Menorah Manor

Menorah Manor in Florida was “feline groovy” when it won the KISS (Keep it Super Simple) Gold Award.

The Companion Pet Therapy Program began when a trustee donated 10 of the companion animals in 2017, said Judy Ludin, the chief development and community relations officer at Menorah Manor. The animals, which began under a division of Hasbro and have since been moved into a spin-out called Ageless Innovation, were a huge hit, she said.

The facility has since added another 10 animals. The animals are used in the Bresler Alzheimer’s Program, the Irv Weissman Adult Day Center and the Therapeutic Recreation department.

In the Alzheimer’s program, one resident was fidgeting and frustrated. Her son mentioned his mother liked cats, and since then, she’s held one of the cats through the day. When it’s brought to her she smiles and says, “That’s my baby,” Ludin noted.

“We saw residents who don’t respond to hardly anything respond to these animals,” she said. “It’s remarkable.”

Other KISS winners:

• Bane Care in Braintree, MA, won Silver for using a Quality Improvement Initiative Provider Plan/Process Improvement Plan Template to identify areas for improvement.

• Nottingham Village in Northumberland, PA, won Bronze for expanding its use of Microsoft Office. While it had used Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheets to track falls, the team advances its skills to use graph options to track trends and to formulate interventions.

Training: Caretel Inns

Michigan-based Caretel Inns of America won Gold for redesigning the employee onboarding process to incorporate technology for training new hires. The system was designed by the organization and uses Google Drive/Google Forms.

“The thing that makes me the most proud is what the new generation is coming into the workforce and what they are looking for,” Vice President of Innovation and Operations Stephanie Hildebrant told McKnight’s. “They are looking for more empowerment. Our hope is that this would respond to those needs.”

Hildebrant and her administrative assistant built the system, which Caretel Inns has been using for eight months.

Other Training winners:

• Legacy Healthcare Services in Raleigh, NC, won Silver for using digital badges. Leaders within Legacy Healthcare Services can use their digital badge to demonstrate knowledge about clinical programming, and staff may choose to earn digital badges as they develop a specific skill set early in their career.

• Far Rockaway Nursing Center in Far Rockaway, NY, won Bronze for using the STOP & WATCH system.

Safety: Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA, won Gold for its use of AvaSys Continuous Virtual Monitoring system. This involved installing a camera in a patient’s room to keep him or her from falling or pulling lines while easing the number of observers needed per patient.

Instead of needing a 1:1 care assistant-to-patient ratio, it can monitor 10 patients at once. The hospital also has seen a reduction in falls and better patient care/monitoring for at-risk patients.

Other Safety winners:

• The Allure Group in Brooklyn, NY, won Silver for its use of the EarlySense system. The provider significantly decreased readmissions by installing the system in 1,436 beds at six facilities.

• Trinity Homes in Minot, ND, won Bronze for its use of the SRM (Quantros) system. It allowed users to directly input information from the computer and identify problems or safety issues that come up, allowing it to catch pharmacy or other potential hazardous scenarios.

Survey Preparation: Granite Creek

Using the Matrix function of PointClickCare’s electronic health records system was a gamechanger for Lori Coday, director of nursing at Granite Creek Health and Rehab in Prescott City, AZ.

Her efforts helped land the facility the Gold Award in the Survey category.

Coday told McKnight’s that previously she had used
an Excel spreadsheet for the facility resident matrix, which
surveyors needed. It was a challenge to update. 

Once she started using the PCC Matrix function, it became much easier, she said. She was able to hand surveyors the matrix when they walked in the door.

“PointClickCare is always innovative and up-to-date,” she said. “That’s what the surveyors needed in up-to-the-minute documentation. It helps us be transparent.”

Other Survey winners:

• Capitol Hill Healthcare in Montgomery, AL, won Silver for its use of the Compliance Store in customizing its research needs.

• Good Samaritan Society, based in Sioux Falls, SD, won Bronze for demonstrating how its use of the Direct Supply TELS program increased its ability to be prepared for its survey.

Admissions: Foundations Health Solutions

Foundations Health Solutions in Warren, OH, wanted to house and track its documentation better, said Chief Operations Officer Jim Homa.

“We wanted an electronic format that was searchable, traceable and trackable — that was our initial goal,” he explained.

The efforts earned Foundations the Gold in the Admissions category. By using the OnBase Hyland system, Foundations found that the increased automation eliminated 41 manual steps for staff, and that OnBase helped identify missing documents.

The admissions process has improved by 50% for associated tasks, he said.

“We wanted an electronic format that was searchable, traceable and trackable — that was our initial goal,” Homa added.

Foundations Director of Admissions Monica Dewitt said the automation eliminated a lot of manual copying and approvals.

“When you introduce any new platform, people get leery, but our staff has been very receptive. They see the benefit,” she said.  “They see the steps it will save.”

Other Admissions winners:

• Encore Health and Rehabilitation in Crowley, LA, won Silver for its use of It’s Never 2 Late to help residents transition from home to the community.

• Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, TX, won Bronze for using the PeraHealth’s Rothman Index to establish whether a patient in the hospital is ready for skilled care.