Artificial intelligence and technology have taken on a huge role in parts of our lives, allowing us access to communication methods and information we didn’t have before. In fact, we rely so much on the advances of technology to complete projects with detailed research, communicate with our families and friends, and make daily tasks easier—like controlling our home security, ordering food and beverages, and entertaining us.
The Future of Tech on the Rise in Long-Term Care (LTC)
While tech plays a major role in our daily lives, another big function it has is on our health care system. Specifically, the rise of technology in long-term care (LTC) has skyrocketed this past year. Let’s take a closer look!
Growing strains on the LTC system
By 2030, nearly 71 million Americans will be 65 years or older, potentially stretching the LTC system to its limits. Our ever-growing population of aging seniors and Baby Boomers have made tech in LTC an important gain in continuing to serve up great health care to the public.
In fact, almost 60 percent of families will provide caregiving assistance and one in three households are caring for a family member with cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, around 80 to 90 percent of nursing home residents have both physical and cognitive impairments. It’s clear the needs for LTC will notably increase as the number of seniors who have cognitive or physical limitations also increases.
Trending tech in LTC
There are many different tech capabilities available in health care. From wearable tech to the systems that record our health information. So, what’s new and trending in tech for LTC and how can we invest and promote its growth?
No. 1: Electronic health record (EHR)/electronic medical record (EMR) systems and e-records sharing capabilities
EHR and EMR systems provide a full synopsis of information about residents, including important things like allergies, medications, and medical conditions. By using e-record sharing, across health care providers and hospitals, they can be sure that the details pertaining to their patient aren’t missed. And because seniors often have multiple things going on in their health care journey—you know, different medical workers caring for them, diagnostics to continue gathering, tests to run, medications they’re on, etc.—the details really matter when it comes to quality patient care.
No. 2: Going wireless with data
Gone are the days when health care staff need to be tied to a workstation. Direct patient care is possible with tablets and laptops, designed to be wireless, mobile care systems. The benefits of wireless tech in LTC are endless. Most notably, and much like EHR/EMR tech, medical workers no longer have to hunt down a patient’s chart or manually update information. By implementing this data into a wireless system, health care systems are able to change the way we access patient information. Storing and sharing this information gives a quicker response time and faster treatment for LTC patients.
Plus, with wireless data, caregivers are now able to track their patients with global positioning systems, or GPS, as we know and love it. This specialized GPS technology allows health care providers to track patients, so you’ll know your patient is safe at all times. The use of GPS allows the patient freedom to roam around their LTC facility, home, or neighborhood and gives you peace of mind that everything is okay. Even better, some GPS trackers can be configured to notify a health care professional in case of an emergency.
No. 3: Telehealth for collaborative consultations
All talk has turned to telehealth recently. During the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, many facilities pivoted to virtual care wherever possible, offering much-needed services to those who couldn’t get to an in-person appointment. As a result, the need for telehealth leadership grew.
Now, telehealth has become a norm for LTC patients who may not require an in-person visit for their level of care, or for facilities in rural areas where accessibility to hospitals isn’t as high. Telehealth for LTC patients is also helpful for medical professionals caring for these patients in order to expand their tech usage and provide a higher level of care and comfort to those who need it.
Investing in the future of tech in LTC
While LTC travelers, medical workers, and caregivers continue to push tech in the LTC setting, another way to help promote technology in LTC is through teaching seniors. Places like Thrive Center are tech innovation centers, designed to encourage seniors to test out wearable tech, VR headsets, and other forms of tech that could elevate their lifestyles.
“We want to be a hub of innovation focused on aging care and bring in senior care providers who are looking to adopt the technology, but also seniors who are ultimately impacted by the technology innovation,” Sheri Rose, the center’s CEO and executive director, tells HealthTech.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that “one of the greatest potential benefits from current and emerging technologies would be a possibility to provide a new person-centered environment in LTC settings.”
A tech-based care center that focuses on its people and its care is the answer. Supporting seniors with technology will continue to propel our health care system forward.
Technology is a part of our everyday lives, so it makes sense that we would utilize it in our health care practices. Sure, investing in health care technology can be expensive and time consuming, but it’s also critical for staying relevant in the medical industry and providing the best patient care possible.