Monday, February 29, 2016

Virtual Nursing Homes On The Rise

We all understand the drivers for what is about to happen to skilled nursing facilities and retirement communities. Rising numbers of elderly, the desire to age at home, the challenges of affordability for additional staff, the capital costs of new or expanded facilities, the need to differentiate among competitors, shifting payment and reimbursement models are to cite but a few.

My prediction is that the rising numbers of seniors of the ‘boomer generation’ will re-write the healthcare landscape just as they have re-written every previous social issue they have faced. Trust me, this new dialogue is happening and it will re-cast healthcare. Being stimulated by this dialogue are a few critical considerations and insights that health care service providers, especially those that operate skilled nursing facilities and or retirement communities should deeply reflect upon.

What I am about to suggest is an enormous opportunity, not a forecast of doom.

Smart operators will move rapidly to construct the ‘virtual nursing home’. What is the ‘virtual nursing home’? Most simply defined it is a ‘operator’ that reaches out with technology to embraces the ‘age-in-place’ client. They will understand that their geographically located ‘brick and mortar’ facility will be transformed into a service ‘hub’ for human and technological resources that will embrace near-by private homes as an extension of their facilities. Private ‘age-at home’ homes will become integrated into the operator’s landscape. And it is all very do-able now.

Imagine connecting a private home to a centralized skilled nursing home control center. Each home can now have a video station, an alert link, a health vitals monitoring station, scheduled care visits, scheduled meal delivery and more. Back at the skilled nursing control center are monitoring stations capable of instant connections by voice and/or observations by video with protections for enhanced privacy. Human care givers can be easily and quickly dispatched. Medication and packages (read: oxygen tanks e.g.) delivery for the age-at-home client can be made to the central facility versus suppliers showing up on their doorsteps and subsequently delivered with assistance if needed. And yes, therapy robots can now be placed in homes to aid in care, surgical recovery and for use in cognitive impairment therapies.

There is no reason to not weave private ‘age-in-place’ clients into the fabric of existing and experienced care giving facilities. The age-in-place home becomes another ‘room’.
If you would like to discuss the rise of the virtual nursing home and what I call MyHomeReach, as it moves from concept to reality, give me a call, I’d be happy to share what we have learned.