Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) are often seen as the last resort in the continuum of care for older adults. But what if we could change that perspective, and instead of it being the end of the line, it’s just a bump in the road? Advances in technology are enhancing the capabilities and scope of services that SNFs provide to patients to put them on the road to recovery and improve their quality of life.
Here are four ways technology innovations benefit your community, patients, and staff.
Early Indicators for Risk and Decline
NIH did a survey of SNF readmissions and “patients felt that readmission was avoidable in 34% of cases, and that inadequate SNF treatment contributed to the majority of readmissions.” There are many tech solutions available today that can identify potential issues for older adults such as incontinence, infections, and mobility issues. If these conditions are diagnosed early, interventions can be established to mitigate and reverse the decline.
Once an issue or condition is identified, technology can provide data to care providers for treatments. For instance, VSTBalance uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess older adults and identify if they are at risk of falling within the next year. The system provides precise data points that enable therapists to develop customized care plans that promote efficiency in care delivery and optimize clinical outcomes.
Long-Term Health Benefits
When people are empowered to take control of their health, they are more likely to stick with a routine that includes exercise and a healthy diet to prevent a cycle of skilled care. Set realistic goals and an appropriate exercise plan that’s easy to maintain for lasting results and follow up with assessments every three to six months to track improvement over time.
We are in a staffing crisis, perpetuated by burnout and frustration due to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to an article in Fierce, “Across a sample of 1,183 long-term care providers polled by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), 99% of nursing homes and 96% of assisted living communities said they are facing some degree of staffing shortages,” adding that “Fifty-nine percent of nursing homes and 30% of assisted living communities characterized their staffing situation as ‘severe.’”
Hiring and retaining good people is paramount to moving forward, and it’s much easier to do it if you’re a forward-thinking organization that enables your staff to work more efficiently. Tech that empowers care teams to do what they do best—care for people—can also have a positive cultural impact.
The Bottom Line
Let’s ensure that SNFs are just part of the evolving journey in the continuing care spectrum, not the final destination. We owe it to our patients, their families, and care providers.