Smart Sensor Technology in Senior Living Headed Toward Industry Standard

| January 15, 2013

care-innovations-logoThe Innovation Series is Brought to you by Care Innovations, a joint venture between Intel Corporation and GE, committed to creating technology-based solutions that give people confidence to live independently, wherever they are. With GE’s expertise in healthcare and Intel’s expertise in technology – we’re innovating to change the way care and solutions are delivered.

A growing number of senior living companies are implementing pilot programs testing various smart sensor or remote monitoring technology platforms in communities, and consumer expectations will drive a “seismic shift” toward full-scale deployment of these kinds of programs.

Making the jump between a pilot program and across-the-board implementation can be tricky, but in the next few years it’s going to become an industry standard as more consumers start looking for specific technological amenities, according to Bryce Porter, Senior Living Manager at Care Innovations, an Intel-GE collaboration.

“I believe the consumer is driving a new behavior for senior housing providers,” says Porter.

For years, he says, the marketing platform for senior living has touted a lifestyle change—an easier, more comfortable, or luxurious way of life. But that has shifted since the financial downturn, with peace of mind turning into a top priority for many residents and their families. Technology, says Porter, can help achieve that, including programs using sensors to monitor residents’ movements, track patterns, and identify possible red flags.

The most successful organizations are those that are anticipating their residents’ needs, he says. “Smart sensor technology is going to empower organizations in a way they’ve never had in the past so they can anticipate residents’ needs, and then be able to provide for them.”

For years, technology has largely been a reactive mechanism: Something happens, prompting a response. But in the best communities, says Porter, there’s a transition to, ‘How can we use technology to anticipate needs as residents age in place?’

“It’s not an industry standard yet, but we believe these trends are going to increase,” Porter says. However, considering the current economic situation, most companies are cautious and want to be careful with their investments, so often don’t opt to deploy a program across-the-board right out of the gate.

Most of the pilot programs Care Innovations has been involved with have started small with the deployment, even if they think the program is something they’ll want to implement across the entire organization.

“The key is having a good sample size, but all of them end up expanding [the program],” he says.

The success of a pilot often depends on having clear goals and objectives from the beginning about what the organization wants to accomplish, whether it’s related to increasing occupancy, expanding care coverage, reducing hospitalization or the risk of hospitalization through fall prevention or UTI (urinary tract infection) tracking, or achieving staff efficiencies.

By setting goals, it’s possible to measure against specific data collected from the pilot and see tangible results.

About six months in, the pilot might not have been able to gather exhaustive quantitative data, but usually they’ve gotten enough testimonials and success stories to know if they want to continue the program. Then, at about the 12-month mark, they’re able to use data to back up the assumptions they’ve been forming, Porter says.

It’ll probably take about three to five years for the industry to see a “pretty seismic shift” in the adoption of smart sensor technology, he believes, “where organizations include this as part of their standard.”

“All of a sudden, it will go from 15-20% [of organizations and companies] adopting it to, say, 67% adoption, as consumers start looking for technology platforms,” he says.

Coming Soon: Eskaton’s ROI Expectations for Smart Sensor Technology Deployment

Written by Alyssa Gerace


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Category: Innovation, Management & Operators, Senior Care, Senior Housing, Technology

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