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4 technology trends in post-acute and long-term care

September 26, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Larry Wolf, health information technology strategist with post-acute service provider Kindred Healthcare, recently spoke with Long-Term Living about emerging trends related to technology in post-acute and long-term care (LTC) settings.

1. Technology changes as the healthcare system changes.

“It’s no longer enough to have a paper-based MDS process with a back-office data-entry person who’s managing paper and then does an electronic submission,” Wolf says. “We’re actually creating a workflow that becomes part of the routine care for patients, and we’re getting systems that support that workflow—everything from certified nursing assistant documentation to nursing assessments to, sometimes, the electronic collection of levels of rehab services.”

Existing tools that use the MDS environment are changing as well, he says. “And similar things are happening in home health as well—additional documentation and more people moving toward mobile apps that go with the nurse who’s visiting the person at home.”

Vendors are developing technology to enable LTC providers to send and receive documents that follow patients and residents from one setting to another, Wolf says.

2. Technology helps coordinate and monitor care.

“While Kindred has chosen to focus on the shorter-stay folks,” Wolf says, “even the longer-stay folks are generally sicker than they’ve been before. They need more true healthcare and services than they’ve needed before.”

Electronics increasingly are being used to coordinate services, Wolf adds. Also, expect LTC settings to start using remote monitoring devices similar to those used in homes.

3. Cloud-based technology is changing personnel needs.

“I’m seeing a general movement, not just at Kindred, but broadly in the industry, toward more automation in the nursing facility, more options for how technology gets delivered,” Wolf says. “Certainly, the cloud-based technology is growing as a way to deliver systems—and getting better all the time—so you don’t have to have as much local expertise to do things.”

4. Quality measures will apply across settings.

“For a long time, nursing centers have had quality measures based on the MDS and the survey process, and the measures have been specific to our care settings,” Wolf says. “I see a very broad push in the federal government to start to look across settings at what quality measures would make sense everywhere, so we start to get a baseline of consistency regardless of where someone is.”

Uniform quality measures will require that good information systems are in place, Wolf says. “I expect we’ll see much more effort on quality measures that are across settings and that assume that there’s electronic documentation as part of the care process,” he adds.

See more of the interview with Larry Wolf here.

See other content by this author here.