Doctor talking to an elderly patient and using a smartphone app to check patients blood sugar levels at home. Okayama, Japan.
(Photo credit: JGalione/Getty Images)

A collaboration between a digital care technology company and a rehabilitation provider is proactively addressing health risks in senior living residents and providing downstream cost savings.

FOX Rehabilitation is implementing OneStep’s Remote Therapeutic Monitoring technology into its occupational and physical therapy sessions in senior living communities to extend staff members’ ability to follow and track treatment of older adults. OneStep said its technology uses a smartphone app and is generating unprecedented buy-in from senior living residents.

Integrating OneStep’s technology into FOX’s Geriatric House Calls model allows for continuous analysis of a resident’s movement through passive data collection. Smartphone motion sensors continuously analyze a person’s movement in real-life conditions, providing gait and motion analysis data without requiring wearables. 

That allows physical and occupational therapists to intervene proactively, helping their clients reach their goals faster and assess health status sooner. The result has been a 45% reduction in falls, according to the company.

William Dieter, FOX Rehabilitation senior clinical director, called gait speed the “sixth vital sign” and something that should be monitored. He sees the technology as a blend between remote patient monitoring and a functional vital sign. With the help of the technology, he said, clinicians and caregivers are seeing things not normally seen to help with longevity.

“We’re seeing between the gaps when we’re not there to make therapy more effective,” Dieter told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We’re seeing trends — caregivers are seeing trends — so we know what’s going on and can help. It’s magnifying the impact of therapy because we’re able to keep eyes on people over time to have them continue to be well.”

Dieter said the technology helps therapy recipients stay engaged with their therapy goals. 

“People don’t do home exercise programs,” he said, adding that patients and senior living residents have “valuable information sitting in their pocket that no one is doing anything with.” 

Dieter also has seen a high rate of buy-in from residents and patients, adding he has seen residents talking to each other about their data and creating a competition.

“We’re seeing people really moving around and almost challenging each other,” he said. “That’s exactly what we want.”

OneStep Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Tarnowski said that data from its providers shows that falls decreased between 12% and 40% with the use of the technology. And skilled nursing facilities are using it as a screening tool to gather baseline measures on fitness and activity levels. 

“Our differentiator with other systems is we don’t have to rely on patients sitting in front of a camera or putting on a sensor,” Tarnowski told McKnight’s Senior Living

Platform creates efficiencies, new revenue streams

Rehabilitation providers are not immune to workforce shortages, Dieter said, adding that many therapists left the field during the pandemic and that the industry is seeing fewer applicants to physical ternary programs. He called the technology a “force multiplier,” helping therapists do more outside of one rehabilitation model plan of care by developing new methods for treating people, creating efficiencies and delivering a care model that is attractive to newer therapists.

The introduction of remote therapeutic monitoring opened another revenue stream, Dieter said. An online dashboard provides actionable data for physical and occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists, who can act quickly to close the care loop. 

When a clinician sees something on the dashboard that triggers a need to talk, change a care plan, educate a resident or staff member about a change in condition, that is something would not have been seen otherwise, and it generates a billable event. The result is documentation that can help secure reimbursement from insurance providers.

“It’s cool because it incentivizes, in a good way, more comprehensive longitudinal management of people over time,” Dieter said. “We’re layering it on top of care to fill in all those gaps that exist when you’re in and out and don’t see the whole picture.”

FOX deployed the technology in the past six months in more than 20 senior living communities where it has a footprint, and the company has plans to introduce it to hundreds of senior living communities this year.