Today, there’s an alternative available that is smarter, more efficient and ultimately more effective than a traditional nurse call system. Passive health monitoring is a system of interlocking technologies that provides more timely response to crises. Passive health monitoring helps ensure seniors’ dignity and sense of independence and allows operators to more effectively manage staffing—one of the biggest cost centers in any housing operation.
Even given all the advantages of a modern passive health monitoring system and the possibilities enabled by AI, senior housing operators still must consider the business advantages before committing – just as they would with any new technology. As may already be apparent, there are numerous ways in which these solutions can contribute to the health of a senior housing operation’s bottom line.
In the most basic sense, passive health monitoring can improve care – and that matters in the competitive senior housing environment. One recent study showed 17 percent of Americans are very dissatisfied with the quality of their healthcare, and 10 percent are somewhat dissatisfied. Simply from a business perspective, anything a housing operator can do to deliver high-quality care will provide a competitive advantage over other communities.
An even more direct business benefit comes in the realm of staffing management. One of the biggest cost factors within senior housing, staffing also has been extremely difficult to manage. Due to the nature of the work and evolving workforce demographics, senior housing typically sees a 20-40 percent annual turnover, with some markets topping 85 percent.
Nor is turnover the only issue. Overtime also is a significant consideration in senior housing. Due to the complexities of effectively scheduling staff, some operators see overtime as among the largest HR challenges they face. In one assisted living enterprise, the average aide reportedly earns $13.09 per hour—but that number jumps to $17.07 when overtime pay is included.
Passive monitoring helps operators to address these trends in a number of ways. For instance, fewer staffers on shift may be possible thanks to the less hands-on, more automated nature of the systems. For those staffers who are on duty, continuous monitoring and automated alerts make it possible to better allocate resources so more time and attention can be devoted to those residents who need it most.
Clearly, these factors can help reduce the overtime burden. At the same time, all these elements can help to drive down turnover. Simply put, staffing a senior residence is hard work. It requires a profound emotional investment in addition to the willingness to work alternating shifts and spend long hours on your feet.
…Those are some of the reasons people quit.
They stay not only because the work has personal meaning, but also because the environment is supportive and the facility is well run and sensibly overseen. That’s where having smart, efficient systems will come into play. Employees who feel supported by a management team willing to make thoughtful investments will be more likely to stick around for the long term.
On the resident side, the business case is all about retention, cost control, and the reduction of vacancies.
As soon as a resident takes on a medical condition of any magnitude—whether it be bedsores or recuperation from a fall—housing executives will see costs rise as staffers devote extra time and care as needed. Even more daunting are the potential legal ramifications when a resident’s chronic conditions are not properly addressed. In one case a provider recently received a $23 million penalty after a resident developed pressure ulcers that led to fatal complications. When operators fail to be preventative in their care, thus allowing falls that could otherwise have been prevented, lawsuits can arise, as has happened across the industry.
At the same time, laws are changing to favor providers who do the most to keep residents well. Hospitals are being penalized for patient readmissions and, therefore, are looking for partners in senior housing that are most proactive in helping to keep residents out of the hospital. In fact, senior housing operations increasingly are teaming with doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers to form Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs. Current healthcare laws encourage the formation of ACOs as part of an overall remedy to the problem of repeat admissions.
AI, sensors, and passive health monitoring drive better business outcomes in addition to better clinical outcomes. To learn more about the various options available for remote health monitoring, download Choosing Remote Health Technology: What Every Senior Living Organization Must Know.