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Data Collection Devices: Pencil Pushers Needn't Apply

August 1, 2001
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Comments from Industry Vendors
Data Collection Devices: Pencil Pushers Needn't Apply
Comments From Industry Vendors It wasn't long ago that "data collection" meant "writing stuff down." Pencil and paper, though, seems to be going the way of the dodo, as manufacturers of electronic equipment become ever more ingen-ious in adapting their products to the day-to-day work of a long-term care facility. With wireless equipment, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), and transmission modes such as radio frequency, staff are finding convenient, real-time ways to collect, record and, if need be, act upon reams of resident care data. Recently the vendors of two new products disclosed for Nursing Homes/Long Term Care Management how they work and what they mean to hard-pressed long-term care staff. Robert C. Davis, President, OneTouch Technologies: "The OneTouch System uses 'iButtons' with PDAs to collect resident medical data and transmit them to online MDS forms and other reports on the facility's server. The iButtons are located on a wristband the resident wears and on the caregiver's name tag. The caregiver touches his/her own iButton to initiate the patient encounter, and then touches the resident's Button with a wand to extract current data and feed the updated data to the PDA. The PDA, via a series of clinical questions and prompts, guides the caregiver through a current clinical assessment, with the results then fed back to the resident's iButton for use by future caregivers. Later the caregiver's PDA is hot-synced to the server via a cradle at a workstation, and the data are populated to all record-keeping systems: the MDS, PPS/RUGs, care plans and so forth. Corporate headquarters of multifacility chains will have on-demand access to the data and reports via an application service provider (ASP), although this feature will not be available until later this year. The system itself, though, has been available for several months and is operational in two skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Pilots are pending with several of the major long-term care chain operations this year.

"The cost of the turnkey system for a 100-bed facility ranges from about $2,000 to 4,000 a month, depending on the desired amount of on-site training and support. For the full package, which includes as much as 30 days of on-site staff training (highly recommended in dealing with the MDS) and monthly visits for maintenance follow-up, the cost would be about $4,000 a month. The company has verified real cost savings of approximately $16,000 a month.

"In general, this system captures nearly 100% of all care-related reimbursable transactions, compared with an industry estimate of 60% using traditional data-gathering methods. And at no time is any paper used in the data collection and processing."

David Lange, Business Manager, and Glenn Jonas, CEO, Code Alert

Lange: "The DriTecÖ Incontinence Management System is a wireless wetness detection system that alerts care-givers when an incontinence episode has occurred so that they can respond and change the resident immediately. It also records these episodes so that staff can establish a voiding pattern for the particular resident and can develop a specific toileting program.

"The system uses a sensor strip inserted in the resident's brief, diaper or liner and is connected to a transmitter about the size of a pager. The sensor strip detects urine, as opposed to water or perspiration, and transmits a signal to a small, dedicated computer that can be located in the DON's workstation or even in a closet. This computer can be used for a virtually limitless number of residents. Repeaters are installed above the ceiling to advance the signal to the computer. The computer responds by signaling pagers carried by CNAs responsible for that resident, displaying the resident's name, so that the nearest CNA can respond. The system records how long it takes for the CNA to respond and change the resident."

Jonas: "The availability of this sort of data is a great management tool for facilities because it enables them to improve response times and, as a result, provide better skin care for residents."

Lange: "Also, the ability to establish voiding patterns in this way saves a lot of staff time."

Jonas: "In fact, once a voiding pattern has been established, the system can be set to alert the pager just before a possible wetting episode, which enables the CNA to toilet the resident in time. Prompted voiding improves the resident's quality of life and requires less staff time."

Lange: "Furthermore, the facility has the option of using the system only a few hours each day on a particular resident, just enough to establish a voiding pattern. That sort of flexibility is part of the system." NH
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