Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) traditionally have been behind the technology curve. COVID-19, however, is changing this. “It has been a wake-up call to the industry that we have to use technology better,” says Glenda Mack, Senior Vice President of Operations and COO at RehabCare. Mack, who also has experience as a physical therapist, discusses technology’s growing role in helping SNFs improve both clinical and operational success as well as the social component of care.
Senior Vice President of Operations and COO
“With residents spending 99 percent of the time in their rooms, it is critical to use the tools we have in our hands every day to help them communicate.”
Q: As SNFs work to recover from COVID-19, how can technology help them overcome challenges and provide the highest level of patient care?
Glenda Mack: With COVID-19’s unique challenges, SNFs are adopting technologies that improve clinical decision-making and address the negative aspects of social isolation. For instance, a lot of times we see glaring gaps in care plan development due to unintentional human error. New technology enables SNFs to place patients appropriately and quickly within the facility with a plan of care that meets all of their needs. We are also starting to grasp the critical nature of human interaction and how to use technology to expand each resident’s ability to communicate with their friends and family during social isolation.
Q: What is the benefit of partnering with an expert to gain access to the latest rehab technology vs. developing it in-house?
Mack: Most of our SNF partners find it too cost-prohibitive to develop technologies on their own. A partner like RehabCare, with 30-plus years of experience, brings specific industry knowledge of how SNFs work, along with the resources and technology to support them. We understand our partners’ challenges, such as the need for intuitive, simple technology that end users will find easy to use. Also, most SNFs don’t have the funds for mobile technologies, which is why we equip all our therapists with a mobile device.
Q: Your patient screener is new to the industry; how does it impact SNF admissions in the current environment?
Mack: Admission decisions in a SNF can take three hours to an entire day. Our patient screener reduces the process down to minutes and makes better admission and placement decisions by removing the human element of having to search a medical record for all issues that will impact the resident’s care. It identifies the key terms, diagnosis, and medication list, delivering a quick synopsis immediately prior to the admission on whether or not the SNF can meet their needs. This is pretty critical in the new world in which we live.
Q: How has technology like the RehabTracker® app and video conferencing been successfully used during COVID-19 and social distancing to drive patient engagement?
Mack: We became innovative fast because we had to limit access to patients who had a suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. Our RehabTracker app enables us to communicate what is going on with a patient from a therapy and nursing perspective while allowing patients to view their healthcare goals, track progress in real time, and share with family and friends. When a family member sees what is going on through our app, they can respond with a message. The patient engagement technology motivates our residents to participate and be more interactive.
Also, with residents spending 99% of the time in their rooms, it is critical to use the tools we have in our hands every day to help them communicate. Within a week and a half of all of the isolation rules going into place, we allowed residents to use an iPad® and do FaceTime® calls with family and friends. Moving forward, it is important that the SNF industry not lose sight of what we are learning or lose the creativity that is happening.
The implementation of innovative technology is more important than ever. Technology can enable facilities to overcome new obstacles and reach greater levels of clinical and operational success. Contact RehabCare to see how their solutions can efficiently and cost-effectively help ensure positive outcomes.