Enhancing senior care and services with analytics

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Al Baker
Al Baker

Technology has been incorporated into almost every day-to-day task or job in an effort to assist with productivity.

For example, the New York City government uses data to research the history of street re-pavements, Descartes Labs uses satellite data to track the Earth's changes, and you're served targeted online ads based on your previous purchases and searches on a daily basis.

Gathering and using data is becoming a crucial process to predict future needs in a multitude of industries. One of these industries is senior care.

Technology never has been easier to access for children, adults and seniors. From computers to phones to tablets to wearable devices, an unlimited amount of possible data resources are at our fingertips — data that can be analyzed to provide individualized, improved senior care.

Here are four areas where that data are shaping the way we approach senior care: 

Advancing the senior care industry

As a whole, the senior care industry has made rapid progress with access to continuous, deep data. A large data set created from individual sources paired with medical records and claims information will supply healthcare providers with the information necessary to assess their services and give seniors the best possible assistance.

Combining data from participating groups will help the senior care industry as a whole, because drug companies will be able to gather research on how to improve their products, physicians can properly adjust prescriptions, and wellness programs created will be more productively determined for the individual rather than the majority.

Optimizing caregivers' time and resources

The average person will spend around $304,000 in his or her lifetime to provide care for a senior family member — and seniors often arrive at a senior living community before it is necessary as family members try to minimize the financial stress as well as the stress of constantly checking in on their senior relatives.

Whether a family member or professional caregiver, data analytics can open the door to the insights needed to analyze the health and activity levels of a senior relative to help them make more informed decisions and better choose the right time to make the move.

Personalizing senior care experience

It can be difficult for seniors to remember what setbacks or improvements they need to share with their physicians or nurses, especially when large gaps exist between appointment times.

Important information could be missed when it comes to critical changes, increased or decreased activity, improved energy or more fatigue. This information can be difficult to keep track of manually, but with the use of analytics from wearable devices and smart home technology, we are able to easily access these data — which actually are more reliable than residents or their designated caregivers keeping manual records of health changes.

A significant, though steady, measure of treatment success in senior health is a resident's change in activity level. Being able to recognize changes in activity and using this information to improve care and services will produce a personalized care experience. The activity level data tracked also will help improve and create wellness programs to serve individual needs to get the best results for each resident.

Preventing imminent health problems

It may be impossible or impractical for care and services providers to closely monitor each resident every day. As skilled as they might be, they are also busy and are not able to predict every possible impending illness or challenge for every senior.

With the use of data and analytics, however, we are able to better anticipate possible health and safety issues, such as slips and falls or urinary tract infections. These threats become avoidable by analyzing data for changes in activity levels and mobility — which is a huge benefit, because these threats can be extremely expensive or even fatal in some situations.

For example, a UTI begins with a 72-hour window of symptoms such as walking becoming painful and increased trips to the restroom. If data around walking patterns or trips to the bathroom can be collected by seniors wearing wearable devices and home sensors, then these early indicators can be recognized and preventive measures taken. And this preventive care comes with big savings — $13,000 for an average UTI hospitalization, to be exact.

IoT sensors and wearable tech devices can help enhance senior care with the capability to constantly monitor residents. Implementing this technology in senior care can help mine the data needed to improve the senior housing and care industry, inform caregivers and family members, provide personalized care and allow caregivers and physicians to be proactive with care. 

Al Baker is the co-founder and an advisory board member of Reemo, a senior health technology designed to empower caregivers with actionable insights to improve the aging experience. Through the use of Samsung wearable and smart home devices, Reemo technology aims to strengthen the connection between seniors and families while helping operators improve the resident experience and health outcomes. By designing data-rich and senior-friendly wearable applications, Reemo hopes to increase senior engagement, provide peace of mind to loved ones and improve senior care and services. This column also includes insights from Teradata Vice President of Strategic Ventures Peter Obringer and Vice President of Technology for New Business Development Jose Basa.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes guest columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

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