Some types of safety monitoring technologies and electronic documentation technologies are among the most widely adopted technologies at the largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living and care organizations surveyed for the 2019 LeadingAge Ziegler 200.

  • Access control / wander management systems and user-activated emergency response systems, are used by 76% and 74%, respectively, of participating organizations using safety monitoring technologies;
  • Electronic point-of-care / point-of-service documentation systems and electronic medical / health records, are used by 75% and 74.5%, respectively, of participants that use electronic documentation technologies.

The four types of technology also were commonly adopted among the 150 largest single-campus providers participating in the LZ 200, with 98.1% of these providers reporting use of electronic point-of-care / point-of-service documentation systems, 97.1% adopting electronic medical / health records, 93.2% adopting user-activated emergency response systems, and 92.3% using access control / wander management systems.

“These [numbers] have been consistently high,” Majd Alwan, Ph.D., senior vice president of technology and executive director of the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies, told McKnight’s Senior Living. And the use of EHRs is increasing among assisted living operators, he added.

“A few years back, you wouldn’t even hear of any assisted living that had anything close to an EHR,” Alwan said. Indeed, only about one-fourth of assisted living communities used electronic health records even by 2016, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“But nowadays, assisted living providers are having to embrace and adopt electronic health records or ‘light’ EHRs that may cost less and do not necessarily have all the functionalities that a skilled nursing or a home health agency or rehab facility might have but have functionality that is more relevant to services delivered in assisted living,” he said.

Medication management is one area of functionality often important in assisted living that can be addressed with the technology, Alwan said.

“The residents are coming into assisted living older and frailer and needing a lot more services than they used to, including significant emphasis on tracking medications and medication management,” he said.

Overall, medication management technology use has been increasing over the past several years among organizations using health and wellness monitoring technologies, Lisa McCracken, director of senior living research and development for Ziegler, told McKnight’s Senior Living.

“I think that is a function of the fact that there are more of these types of technologies on the market these days, but also that providers are committing more in technologies to mitigate risk,” she said. “Obviously, any medication error is a significant problem, so integrating various checks-and-balances, supported by tech platforms, is a win.”

Alwan also predicts that the use of telehealth technology in senior living and care will grow in the future.

“A few years back, we saw a significant increase in telehealth and telecare, remote monitoring of biometrics and health indicators, as well as remote monitoring of activities of daily living and so on,” he said. “But I believe … we’re going to see a lot more over the next few years, given the flexibility that Medicare is starting to have, especially under Medicare Advantage … and the interest from Medicare Advantage in utilizing these technologies to deliver services that keep older adults in the least costly settings, out of hospitals and emergency departments.”

Both McCracken and Alwan warned readers of the LZ 200 against assuming trends in technology adoption by comparing data from this year’s survey to data from previous years. That’s because the list began 16 years ago with 100 organizations, grew to 150 companies in 2014 and to 200 last year.

“We know that the larger organizations are more likely to invest in and adopt a number of these technologies,” McCracken said, “so adoption figures were slightly higher among just the largest 150 and dipped a little when expanded to the largest 200.”

LeadingAge is surveying its members to obtain a clearer idea of their trends in technology adoption, Alwan said.

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