PART II: It’s time to fix long-term health care with technology that empowers caregivers
Todd Owens

Technology adoption has a direct correlation to the quality of care. Every minute that is spent reacting or wading through complexity without the systems to support it is time that gets taken away from the patient. 

Staff naturally must prioritize any life and death issues, followed by administering meds and ensuring people are fed. Then they focus on the tasks that keep people in their jobs, like filling out the schedule for next week and make sure all compliance-oriented actions are covered to keep from getting fired. Only after all these critical things are done can you get to the actual human side of care, the things that bring a smile to somebody's face or joy to their day.

This cannot continue. Now is the time to invest in leveraging all the resources at our disposal. If you were to survey nurses and ask them what they need, they would clearly identify opportunities for more streamlined administration, better support, consistent staffing levels, timely training, and greater efficiencies.  And if these improvements come in the form of innovative suppliers, vendors, and new technologies, nurses will be open to these new tools.  

There is a place for entrepreneurs and new innovations to help ease the burden and create a better environment to provide care. I think the mea culpa goes both ways. The tech industry has not put forward its best technology and effort. But the long-term care industry, likely distracted by just trying to survive, has been late to partner with companies able to embrace change and bring new concepts to market. 

Entrepreneurs strive to make the world a better place. I am hopeful they will now work to make an industry like this move faster. The ownership groups know what they were doing cannot continue. But do they have the conviction to make the investments? 

The care teams expect it, but they're not technologists. It’s incumbent upon the owners trying to drive consolidation to invest in the digital infrastructure they need.  When you can improve the opportunities and quality of work, nurses feel empowered, which makes the relationship with patients better and more durable. 

We, as a society, owe it to the residents of long-term care facilities to do it differently.

There are many steps we can be taking to have impact. We're going to have to get more efficient, such as by using technology for staffing, compliance and scheduling. We're going to have to figure out how to recruit more efficiently. We're going to have to make the job more attractive so that everybody doesn't just say, "You know what? I'm done."

This is not just about life and death. For both the residents and the people who care for them, it’s also about dignity and respect.

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Todd Owens