With competition fierce among local senior care communities, executives are always on the lookout for ways to set a community apart from the rest. Beyond positively affecting the bottom line through increased referrals and marketing, finding ways to create a niche within an industry will bring more potential residents through the doors. Lately, executives have been exploring ways to bring technology to the forefront of senior communities. However, there is more than social media workshops and free WiFi access to a well thought out technology program for a senior community. The answer to a competitive edge may just be telehealth.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is defined as systems that enhance healthcare delivery and education through tablets, smartphones, computers, or other means. Similar to mHealth technology and applications, telehealth systems offer patients the chance to coordinate with doctors and specialists by simply emailing, calling, or video conferencing. Gone are the days of necessary office visits done in person. Telehealth offers an opportunity to connect with medical clinicians in not so traditional ways. But how can telehealth bring a competitive edge to senior care communities? The short answer is better health. The long answers are below.
1.Engagement with Medical Clinicians
Residents with access to telehealth systems in the senior care community will have the opportunity to engage more with their doctors, specialists, and other offsite medical clinicians. Having the chance to ask follow up questions after an appointment or procedure may lead to decreased anxiety or confusion for residents, and may help with coordinating nurses at the senior care community.
2. Increased Opportunities for Clinical Coordination
Nurses and other healthcare professionals at the senior care community are often relegated to calling doctor offices to clarify orders or ask questions. Doctors are also not often in attendance for onsite care plan meetings with residents and family members. However, when staff and residents are given access to telehealth applications at the senior care community, doctors can become active members of the care plan team from their own office or other location. This extra step in care coordination does not need to stop with doctors. Telehealth could include visits with therapists, specialists, or other medical professionals who have a vested interest in the resident’s health.
3. Access to Preventative Health Measures
A major component of many telehealth applications include health education and preventative health recommendations. Giving residents the education and feelings of empowerment over their own health can lead to better decisions and better health.
4. Immediate Access to Valid Information
Telehealth isn’t just phone conferences with a nurse. Indeed, the correct telehealth apps can sync up to a senior care community’s health monitoring system. This coordination can give offsite clinicians access to information gathered real-time, showing anything from resident vital signs to fall risk activities. When provided with this up to the minute glimpse into the resident’s life, doctors are able to get a better sense of what, if anything, is concerning for the resident’s health.
Telehealth is a relatively untapped resource for senior care communities at the moment. However, the movement is picking up steam. Don’t be left behind; instead, choose to commit to a network platform and plan that can use telehealth systems to increase resident health and your bottom line.
How do you use telehealth systems now? What are your barriers for implementing telehealth applications in your senior care community?