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If 2014 is the year of the Horse, according to the Chinese calendar, then for senior living technology it looks to be the year of the electronic health record (EHR).
Providers have not shied away from adopting technologies to drive efficiencies and better position themselves in the changing healthcare landscape.
More than 90% of the largest non-profit senior living providers have adopted some form of technology, be it resident-facing or operations-driven, according to the LeadingAge Ziegler 100 Technology Adoption and Utilization Survey released in December. Of this staggering majority, 83% of providers said they currently employ electronic documentation technologies such as electronic medical records and EHRs.
“In 2014, we will see more and more of the EHRs that are deployed being used in a more meaningful way to drive quality improvement initiatives and also drive strategic positioning for long-term care and post-acute care providers,” says Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology for LeadingAge’s Center for Aging Services Technology (CAST).
As more provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—a.k.a “Obamacare”—take effect and reform the nation’s healthcare environment, the adoption rate of EHR/EMR technology could see an uptick among senior living organizations in the coming year, as many will be forced to comply in an increasing competitive landscape emphasizing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
The changing healthcare landscape could lead to an increased willingness among providers to adopt other technologies as a way to better position themselves with other organizations, Alwan suggests.
“While we will continue to see increases in the adoption of these [EHR/EMR] technologies, we may also see interest in telehealth and remote monitoring, more specifically biometric telehealth for the management of chronic conditions,” he says.
Such technology can also help stabilize the condition of newly discharged patients to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions, he adds.
The comfort levels of those using the technology, as well as evidence of value, stand to be several challenges hindering widespread adoption of not only EHRs and EMRs, but senior care technology in general.
“An older workforce generation is becoming more comfortable with these technologies, but more still needs to be done in terms of training and identifying peer cultures and champions within each organization implementing the technology,” says Alwan.
But demonstrating the value of implementing senior care technology may help improve adoption rates.
“Showing examples of organizations that have successfully implemented these technologies and started reporting the benefits of these implementations might help demonstrate value, and share lessons learned for others thinking of embarking on their own projects,” Alwan says.
LeadingAge CAST is currently working to produce case studies from providers’ perspectives on implementing technology and the benefits they have experienced as a result.
“Financial evidence depends significantly on the types operational and business models the tech is used to facilitate,” he says. “There’s a lot of potential for providers through partnerships with acute care and other players in the healthcare ecosystem.”
Written by Jason Oliva