Internet of Things (IoT) in assisted living is empowering seniors to maintain a more connected and enriched lifestyle. While the full potential of IoT is yet to unfold, technological innovations in this area are already enabling telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
Empowering and Connecting Seniors for a Healthier Life
According to a study by Goldman Sachs, the economic impact of IoT on remote patient monitoring and telehealth is going to be significant between 2015 and 2025, with total potential savings expected to be more than $200 billion and $100 billion respectively. While the savings will be distributed across various segments within healthcare, assisted living facilities are likely to be key beneficiaries owing to the many advantages IoT offers their residents.
In a nation with nearly 17% of the population above 65 years of age by 2020, the demand for assisted living will continue to grow. With the number of residents in senior living communities as well as employment in these communities exceeding one million by 2025, as per Argentum, senior living facilities are exploring ways to reduce their costs.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in adults 65 and older. According to Deloitte University Press, one out of three older adults fall each year. IoT automates proactive monitoring and rapid response by predicting the likelihood of a fall, thereby reducing the cost of hiring skilled resources 24/7.
IoT also reduces emergency visits, further cutting costs. A combined study on the impact of active engagement in telemedicine by residents at senior living communities, conducted by University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, showed a reduction in emergency visits at an annualized rate of 28%.
Episcopal Senior Communities – Connected Living Enabled by IoT
A California retirement community, Episcopal Senior Communities, made a case in point when it started using IoT to track residents and staff, as well as improve responsiveness to emergency calls. To enable location-tracking, residents wear a pendant that connects them to the staff via the communities’ Wi-Fi network. The trackers also allow staff to respond quickly to emergency calls made by residents, thereby improving quality of care and resident safety. Owing to its many advantages, the trackers are being used by almost 100% of residents at assisted living communities of Episcopal.
Besides enhancing resident safety and staff responsiveness, Episcopal has identified other benefits of using IoT. Complaints made by families of residents can be quickly reviewed and attended to because a connected system offers insights into calls logged and response time. Other benefits that are being explored include the use of IoT to track whether residents are leaving their rooms during the day as required by federal regulations. Adding “voice” to enhance two-way communications via tracking devices is another example of how IoT can reduce caregiver workload and save significant time on making room or house calls.
Driving Innovation and Competitive Advantage in Senior Care
Assisted living facilities implementing IoT solutions have a competitive advantage in improved senior care, operational efficiency, and overall happier residents. Automating processes, tracking resources and capturing essential resident data enables providers to predict behavior and health and deliver better care. IoT has the power to transform assisted living facilities so they can achieve enhanced patient connectivity, establish connectivity, and enable smart connections between residents, caregivers, doctors, and families. The IoT building blocks are emerging everywhere and assisted living is not far behind. Take action now.
Credits: The case on Episcopal Senior Communities is based on the article that appeared on Fortune.com in July 2015.