Passive health monitoring is a system of interlocking technologies that provides more timely response to crises. In doing so, passive monitoring improves health outcomes for residents. Additionally, this system will allow senior living communities to experience a wide variety of business outcomes by increasing resident retention and occupancy.
Passive health monitoring pulls together sophisticated hardware, software, and infrared images to achieve ongoing oversight of a range of key functions. Such systems include sensors designed to read various aspects of motion, along with heart rate, respiratory rate, and other key indicators. These measures are then processed using sophisticated artificial intelligence software—a form of computer “learning” that can track and interpret a resident’s normal patterns and recognize potentially dangerous deviations.
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.
As opposed to reactive care traditionally employed in senior living communities, passive health monitoring relies on a preventive care approach in the following ways:
This system continuously develops a picture of a resident’s main fall indicators—gait, walk speed, stride length, balance—over time. When paired with AI processing capabilities, this sensor data is used by the monitoring system to learn the resident’s “norm” not just at a particular instant, but also over a broad span of time and in comparison to a larger population to anticipate resident behaviors and actions.
By keeping a constant watch on functional vital signs and processing these through artificial intelligence, a modern system may be able to alert caregivers to the signs of stroke, heart disease, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and other conditions before a situation escalates to a dangerous status.
Now let’s turn it around and look at the potential upside for operators who do take a proactive approach to monitoring the potential for falls and other negative health events. From almost any angle, a proactive approach is just good business practice.
When one considers the time staff must devote to each individual, healthier residents cost less. When residents have health conditions, it’s harder for staff to organize schedules and manage overtime. By keeping residents healthy, and thus keeping down those costs, the results add up quickly:
Just a $2 per resident-day expense reduction (typically 1.5 to 2 percent of total expenses) can hit bottom-line cash flow by $52,560 to $78,840 per year.
Over time, better health outcomes translate to better resident retention. Healthier residents are able to age in place longer, without needing to relocate to facilities that offer higher levels of care. Greater health drives greater independence, which in turn encourages residents to remain in their present setting.
Finally, preventive monitoring gives families peace of mind because automatic notifications generate a higher level of transparency. Families know that they’ll be told right away of any negative health event. This in turn gives them a high degree of peace of mind, along with the comfort level that drives resident retention over the long term.
Retention is a significant bottom-line issue when considering the cost of winning new residents in a competitive market. Housing executives today find themselves facing marketing costs that may already top 5 percent of their operating budgets
Just as cutting-edge monitoring technologies can increase retention, so can they increase occupancy rates. When a resident experiences a negative health event and is forced to move into a different facility with a higher level of care, housing executives are left with a vacancy for as long as it takes to turn that apartment around.
This is especially problematic at a time when senior housing is beginning to show signs of being overbuilt. Recent figures show supply outpacing demand, with new inventory continuing to come to market. Weak absorption will likely make it harder to fill those vacancies—another demonstration of the competitive advantage inherent in passive monitoring. Stable occupancy equals stable income streams, something operators are always striving to achieve.
Stepping back, the chain of association is easy to put together. Passive monitoring reduces unnecessary health events. Healthier residents help keep costs down. Residents are happier and are more apt to stay put in their current situation. Families are satisfied, so retention remains high. This keeps occupancy high. Each step follows logically on the one before.