A Fresh Take on Senior Care Technology and Innovation

Posted by CC Andrews

Feb 7, 2017 12:00:00 AM

File this one under “never knew this group existed but what a cool idea”: The Consumer Technology Association Foundation, a public foundation with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. Yep, they exist and they published a report that found, among other things, that “meeting the needs of a growing aging population will require new technologies, partnerships, ideas, and business models.”QA Blog senior technology photo.jpg

Ok, so that’s not much of a revelation to those of us entrenched in this field. But read on, it gets better.

The report, titled “Outthink Aging,” also examines how technology will empower seniors to live longer, healthier, and more independent lives by preventing fraud and abuse, providing greater social connectivity, and improving access to vital information and services. Reaching all of these goals remains to be seen but they are worthy.

Among the more salient points made in the report is that technology is just part of the answer to addressing the complex challenges of an aging population. More innovation is needed in our field and technology is just one piece of this puzzle. Amen, and as the report aptly notes, “the aging population is not a user group.”

Human needs are complex and not easily met through technological fixes alone, it further states. The trick is to engage this cohort by “leveraging technical innovation and human empathy to enhance the human experience.”

I’m not sure what engaging “human empathy” looks like, but I understand where they are going, and I would add that the best way to create new innovations that meet the needs of an aging population is to develop the technology with elders and individuals with disabilities—not just for them.

In addition to some great ideas about innovation and technology, the report also notes that activities of daily living are “activities that happen on the surface of day-to-day life.” The groups offer a new list of “core desires of an aging population,” as follows:

  • Health: Access to high-quality healthcare encouraging both physical and cognitive wellbeing.
  • Connection: Capability to stay in touch with loved ones and maintain an active role in their communities.
  • Security: Ability to live safely in one’s home and have protections against theft and financial fraud.
  • Dignity and Independence: Respect and control over direction of their lives.

Also notable is the fact that the CTA Foundation collaborated with IBM to create the report. IBM seems pretty happy about it: “[It] is an excellent example of the new types of relationships that will be necessary to meet the needs of the growing aging population,” Dr. Ruoyi Zhou, director of IBM Accessibility Research, says in a statement. He’s right—new types of relationships will be a crucial factor in addressing the needs of elders in useful and innovative ways.

Stephen Ewell, executive director of the CTA Foundation, is also on board. In the same statement, he asserts that “new partnerships between industry, nonprofits, academia, government, and the general public will form to accomplish these goals.” He’s right, and I’m happy to see that more and more folks are getting it.

In addition to innovative ideas and collaborations, the two groups conducted an informal poll at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show (N = 300 to 400) to gauge attendees’ concerns about the challenges of aging:

  • 47 percent of respondents worry most about losing their memory and suffering from dementia as they age.
  • 38 percent believe smart homes and the Internet of Things will best help manage the aging process.
  • 35 percent believe discussing assisted/long-term care is the most difficult conversation to have with their parents.

The report also cites other research from the foundation showing that the U.S. market for active aging technology now encompasses 85 million Americans, representing a $24.4 billion market opportunity in 2015 that is expected to grow to $42.7 billion by 2020 (more from AARP’s report on the longevity economy HERE).

In conclusion, I believe this report is a great resource if you’re interested in dipping your toe into the field of aging services or if you are already in it and need a refresher or energizer on innovation and resources.

If you want a focused approach, facilitated by experts in the senior living field and candid feedback, contact Quantum Age today. 

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Topics: Aging, technology, tech, innovations

Furnishings Combine Innovation and Person-Centered Design

Posted by CC Andrews

Sep 29, 2016 9:49:06 AM

In just a couple of weeks, Quantum Age Collaborative will head to the Aging 2.0 OPTIMIZE conference in San Francisco, where we expect to find some highly innovative individuals, organizations, and companies navigating their way through the opportunities presented by the longevity economy.

I asupply-cabinet-1-515x5611-515x561.jpgm particularly excited about one individual on the OPTIMIZE agenda, Jennie Bucove, founder and CEO of Furnished Living, a company with a new line of furniture “that addresses the needs of older adults and people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”

What’s most intriguing about the products is that they seem to be highly person-centered. I was able to catch up with Bucove recently to get some more details about the company, as well as a sneak peek of her talk at Aging 2.0 before she gives it on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Like many entrepreneurs in the senior living space, Bucove spent much of her career climbing the corporate ladder before her father’s health began to decline and he had to move to a long-term care center. “The home was lovely and extremely helpful to my father,” says Bucove, “but when I visited him I noticed that once he sat down in the chair in his room he couldn’t get up out of it.” As a result, Bucove says she often had to help him get up.

In addition, Bucove noticed that her father’s bed was made with a plastic headboard that was not at all conducive to his mobility or safety. “His furniture looked like it belonged in a dorm room,” she says.

After talking with friends who’d had similar experiences with their parents and loved ones in long-term care communities, Bucove realized that there had to be a market for better furniture—furniture that would both optimize elders’ independence and heighten engagement with staff and family members. “It was a light-bulb moment for me,” she says.

Bucove soon began compiling a design team and launched a search for a manufacturer. The process was not an easy one, she says, but she eventually found the right group of people, which included renowned gerontologist Rosemary Bakker.

The next step was to find a place to put the furniture to use. In a serendipitous turn of events, Bucove met Mike Shmerling, founder of Abe’s Garden, a memory care community in Nashville, Tenn. Shmerling’s father had Alzheimer’s diseaAging_Optimize_logo.pngse and had lived in multiple long-term care centers. “He had been kicked out of every facility because of his disease, so Mike decided to create a community on his own,” Bucove explains.

She credits Shmerling’s entrepreneurial spirit for being open to putting her furniture designs in his building.

“So I worked with Mike and his design firm to fine-tune the furniture before putting them into Abe’s Garden,” says Bucove. Since then, she says she has learned that the furniture is helpful in improving residents’ independence, enhancing engagement with visitors, and helping staff avoid injury, among other things.

Of the eight pieces of furniture designed and produced by Furnish Living, the supply cabinet and the night stand sound most promising to me. The supply cabinet has a magnetic cover that holds cloth and magnetic frames for photos. “It’s made so family members can take them down and look at them with their loved ones,” says Bucove. The door on the supply cabinet also has no handles and it uses a magnetic lock system so that staff need carry only one key fob to disengage the lock, when necessary.nighttable1-515x5612-515x561.jpg

The nightstand has a light that illuminates the floor in front of it so the user can see the floor in the middle of the night—thus reducing fall risks—and a dimmer so that it doesn’t keep sleeping residents awake but allows for enough light for a staff member to check in.

The Aging2.0 OPTIMIZE conference, which takes place from Oct. 12 to 14 in San Francisco, brings together senior care executives, tech companies, investors, and entrepreneurs from around the globe to experience the intersection of aging and innovation.

If you are interested in attending, the Aging 2.0 folks are offering a last-minute discount for those who register with this code: A2NETWORK.

I hope to see you there!

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Topics: Aging, technology, long term care, design, innovations

Technology & Staff Training: Taking It to the Next Level

Posted by Edie Deane

Sep 7, 2016 3:43:11 PM

I entered into the long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) field with the desire to improve my fellow human beings’ quality of life, and one thing I can say with macbook_iphone.jpegassuredness is that this reason holds true for most of us. One of the many challenges we face in this era of health care is accomplishing this task while meeting the myriad requirements necessary to be paid for our services.

So what is the good news? Technology. Yes, that’s right, technology. Now I can hear a group of you moaning, or even possibly cursing me for using that dirty word. And for others it is what you’ve grown up with. But let’s face it—we are working in an amazing time of advancements and we have to put those advancements to good use for us and for our patients.

The appropriate use of technology is the only way to maximize our patients’ outcomes and our professional success. A critical factor in doing this is learning to use the newest tools and systems of our trade. These tools include, but are not limited to, mobile equipment, electronic health records, data analytics, remote monitoring, and the ever-growing arena of telehealth.

So how do busy patient care providers get the training they need to be more efficient and effective with these tools while still maintaining their high quality of care? Those holding the technology tools—the software and hardware companies in our industry—must provide our professionals blended learning opportunities to make the learning experience easily accessible, role-based, and work-schedule friendly.

We are in an age of immediate access via the internet, and our industry’s healthcare professionals need that same approach to training. In my opinion, training should follow what I refer to as DEAP:

  • Divided into manageable chunks: How big is manageable? Think of it as a training break. Develop content that doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to complete.
  • Easily accessible: Training for products and processes should be safely stored where they can be accessed via a secure internet connection. This allows for quick and easy access options that include smart phones, mobile tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. It also eliminates the need to find a manual or require access on a specific computer.
  • Available anytime: Whenever possible, training should be stored so that staff can use secure logins to participate in training whenever the need arises.
  • Process- and role-based training: A content library that is specific to each work role will save significant amounts of time for the professional using a software system, platform, and/or tools. This type of training collection keeps staff members from wasting precious time sifting through training that includes all functionalities available for each work role, rather than the specific process they need to complete.

For example: A patient leaves for the hospital at 11:30 pm with apparent stroke symptoms. This patient will need to be signed out from the facility. However, the nurse responsible for this task has not signed anyone out of the facility yet. Is a short process training video available for them to view when and where they need it? If there is only product-based or training documentation or videos that illustrate what each section/module of the EHR does then the nurse will have to review multiple items to ensure she has completed all tasks required, which may include such as clinical, billing, electronic medication administration record, or electronic treatment administration record. A short training video (10 minutes in length) that illustrates the transfer-to-hospital process will quickly show the exact steps needed to appropriately sign out the patient in a timely manner.

Yes, our industry is moving at a fast and ever-growing pace. And with it comes an increasing dependency on technology to meet patient care and business goals for success. We must be proactive in harnessing technology to our advantage and provide our professionals the training they need, when and how they need it so they can continue to offer high-quality care when and where they need to.

Making staff training content easily accessible and consumable is an important step in this direction.



Edie Deane, MS-CCC, CCM, develops customer- and staff-friendly processes of communication and role-specific training for Quantum Age Collaborative. Edie has worked for more than 30 years in LTPAC in sub-acute/brain injury rehabilitation; facility-based clinical and departmental management; as a national management trainer in the areas of financial management, departmental management, customer service and marketing; in the EHR software sector developing strategic customer and staff product training and communication; and as an owner of an online continuing education company, Care2Learn, for the allied health professionals working in the LTPAC industry.




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Topics: technology, long-term and post-acute care, staff training, education

EHR Implementation Made Easier

Posted by CC Andrews

Jun 23, 2016 11:02:07 AM

Wouldn’t it be great if all long-term and post-acute care proEHR_blog_computer-1240311.jpgviders had an electronic health record (EHR) adoption blueprint that guides them through the process, step by step, to implementation? That’s exactly what LeadingAge’s Center for Aging Services Technology (CAST) has done.

CAST announced very recently that it has updated resources on EHRs to include something called a 7-Stage Adoption Model. Developed by CAST for the following LTPAC entities:

  • Adult day care
  • Attending physicians
  • Assisted living
  • Acute rehab facilities
  • Home health/home care
  • Hospice
  • Life plan communities
  • Long-term acute care hospitals
  • Long-term care rehab facilities
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Intermediate care facilitites
  • Intellectual disabilities/developmental disability facilities
  • Programs for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

The resources also include an updated EHR Selection Portfolio, an interactive online guide, and a new case study that outlines one provider’s journey through EHR adoption. According to a statement from CAST, previous EHR adoption models focused primarily on inpatient settings like hospitals and nursing homes.

This model, however, is aimed at helping all aging services organization in “choosing an EHR system that fits the needs of the organization, its providers, and its consumers, patients, and clients.”

In my opinion, it’s refreshing to see a tool more reflective of where the industry is headed—a more integrated care model that is more about the patient and the care, not driven by the setting.

According to Majd Alwan, CAST executive director, “the CAST EHR Selection Portfolio’7-stages EHR implementations new 7-Stage Adoption Model was tailored to help long-term care providers not only improve efficiency, but also quality of care for their residents.” He also said that he hopes the model will make it easier for more and more providers to integrate advanced EHR functionalities into their operations, and use them to continuously improve care quality.

The 7-Stage model provides a framework to assess the level of adoption and sophistication of use, as opposed to just the overall rate of adoption, of EHRs in long-term and post-acute care. The model also draws from the HIMSS 7-Stage EMR Adoption Model, PointClickCare’s 7-Stage LTC EHR Adoption Model, and Gutkind-Savage’s 10-Stage International EHR Adoption Model.  

Even if you’ve already implemented EHRs in your communities, it can help you determine if you’re in the right spot, ahead of the game, or if you need updates.
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Topics: Senior care, technology, long term care, long-term and post-acute care

Opportunity is Knocking at the Senior Living Door

Posted by CC Andrews

Jan 25, 2016 8:33:19 AM

Seventy-two billion dollars is a substantial sum of money for any industry. But did you know that this figure represents the projected revenue from markets created by senior caregiver spending in 2020? That’s what a recent report from AARP and Park Associates reveals: “Caregiving Innovation Frontiers: A universal need, a growing opportunity—leveraging technology to transform the future.”

Here’s another staggering stat: $42.9 billion. That’s the expected profits from six market segments affiliated with caregiver spending this year alone. If you’re paying close attention, you’ll note that the difference between these two numbers represents the expected growth in these combined markets in the next four years: $29.3 billion.

Yes, that’s a sizable and respectful figure, and it represents an opportunity that providers of aging services may want to consider seizing—as the day is close at hand.iphone-1032784_1280.jpg

The figures are derived from survey data detailing consumer needs, interests, and behaviors, as well as an examination of services already in the marketplace, says AARP. The report also provides detailed descriptions of the six market segments that will produce the aforementioned revenue and are ripe for opportunity now:

  1. Daily Essential Activities: Meals, home and personal care, home repair, delivery, transportation services.
  2. Health and Safety Awareness: Health vital alerts, diet and nutrition, medication management, personal safety monitoring, telehealth.
  3. Care Coordination: Care planning, care professional engagement, records and benefits management, recovery support.
  4. Caregiver Quality of Life: Respite and backup care, social support, health and wellness, financial/job security.
  5. Social Well-Being: Digital inclusion, life enrichment and empowerment, community networking, life companions.
  6. Transition Support: Home retrofit services, long-term care insurance planning, long-term care provider referral, legal assistance, hospice/funeral planning.

In addition to breaking down revenue forecasts for each of the segments, the report is packed with details about companies already offering similar services in each submarket segment and littered with relevant factoids that bring the opportunities into context for providers. For example, did you know that 67 percent of caregivers want to monitor their care recipients’ health and safety but only one-tenth of them are currently doing so?   

If you’re looking for opportunities to expand or diversify your services into the community—or if you simply need to market a technology or service you already offer—I would suggest reading this report ASAP, as it offers an insightful and very helpful examination of the near future for aging services providers. How will you seize the moment?

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Topics: Senior care, technology