Editor’s Note: The 2020 winners of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards are being announced Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. Senior Living track winners are being announced here by McKnight’s Senior Living. Senior Living track winners are being announced on the website of sister publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Looking to reduce falls in its short-term rehabilitation unit, life plan community John Knox Village of Lee’s Summit, MO, became the first long-term care facility to use an artificial intelligence platform equipped with machine vision and sensors to achieve its goals. The community now plans to roll out the technology across the entire campus.

The community has won a Gold in the Innovator of the Year category of the Senior Living track of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

John Knox partnered with VirtuSense Technologies on a one-year pilot. The community deployed the VSTAlert system in 11 rooms, where high-risk, short-stay patients were monitored around-the-clock by components intended to predict when they might attempt to move from a chair or bed.

Sensors communicate with staff members directly by cell phone notification, giving aides more time to anticipate patient needs and intervene. The system also gives residents a calm, audible warning to wait for help.

The pilot goal was to reduce falls by 27%, from 11.2 per 1,000 patient days to 8.2 falls per 1,000 patient days, but over a year, actual falls dropped by 79.5% to 2.3 per 1,000 patient days, according to John Knox officials.

Administrator Anthony Columbatto said staff is embracing the new technology, which “has moved the needle” more on fall prevention than any previous campus initiatives or care plan changes.

“When you present them with a solution to a problem that they’ve previously been unable to solve, it gets them excited,” he said.

Families also appreciate the security the technology provides without the use of noisy bed alarms or intrusive cameras.

Following the pilot, the devices remain in use, and John Knox plans to expand the VSTAlert platform across its campus. Columbatto said another 19 devices expected to arrive this month will be installed in the community’s long-term care unit for use among residents with the highest fall risk. The company will be collecting data on how individuals with cognitive impairment respond to the warnings.

“Really, there’s unlimited potential for this technology,” Columbatto said.

Other Innovator of the Year award winners in the Senior Living track:

  • Silver: Juniper Communities, for its work to secure 3,000 COVID-19 testing kits from Magnolia Diagnostics in the pandemic’s early days, piloting antibody testing and creating staffing “bubbles” by encouraging staff to live on-site.
  • Bronze: Immanuel Nebraska, in recognition of a suite of engagement tools, including digital signage, a mobile app for residents, an online portal and an in-house content-management system.

Competition entries were submitted earlier this year and judged by an independent panel of skilled care and senior living experts and industry professionals.Stanley Healthcare is the Platinum sponsor of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. MatrixCare is the Gold sponsor for the Senior Living track.