Jun 27, 2018

New technologies help aged care providers deliver holistic care to residents

Andres Rehbein, who is a self-confessed IT “nerd”, is using technology to improve efficiency and quality of care at Queensland-based aged care provider, PresCare.

At Akolade’s Technology in Aged Care Forum, held on 26-28 June, Andres Rehbein spoke of the ways he and his team at PresCare have used technology to improve efficiency in their nursing homes, and improve quality of care across the network.

Mr Rehbein said the aged care industry has been the subject of bad press in recent times.

“Right now, in the market, we’re all being crucified,” he said.

But Mr Rehbein said there is no denying the fact that the people who work in aged care genuinely care for their customers – both the residents, and their families.

“We all know every one of us is in this job because we truly care,” he said.

Antiquated systems  

Mr Rehbein said that since he entered the aged care industry, he has focused on seeing residents through a technology lense. He tries to understand the customers: “what are their pains, what are their challenges, opportunities, what are their constraints.”

Mr Rehbein said that some antiquated technology systems are not keeping up with the technology that is available, and aren’t in line with the aims of the industry.

“We need to do more with less. And we’ve got to do less administration,” he said.

Getting the basics right

Mr Rehbein has focussed on getting the technology basics right at PresCare.

He got rid of outdated desktops in nurses stations, and moved all equipment from residential homes onto the cloud. Mr Rehbein said his team “worked around the clock” to move all system to the cloud in only three months.

PresCare replaced most of its desktops with tablets, primarily because Microsoft charged too much for its licenses, but also because the systems they were using were web based, and so didn’t need Windows and Office.

He reviewed every telephony license, and went to the vendors to ask for lower charges and better conditions – “and we got it”, he said.

“On our communication network, in the last three months have been able to bring [costs] down $200,000,” he said.

The company went to a virtual desktop system so it could start a community anywhere.

A flow-on effect of getting the basics right was better security and better disaster recovery plans.

Unobtrusive monitoring

“The more data points I’m able to obtain from my business the better the quality and predictive capability I’m going to have within my business,” said Mr Rehbein.

To obtain better data, we started introducing non-intrusive monitoring, he said.

In addition, nurse systems and care systems were brought into one, so nurses can have the information they need “on the fly”.

“When a nurse was walking towards a resident the information about that resient would come up, for example, when they last had their medication,” he said.

“We integrated another component to create custom forms. So if you need to check on someone every two hours, you would get a reminder, all staff would get the reminder and then one could check it off.”

He also got exclusive rights to technology that measures human interactions from within 30cm.

“We can actually see how many interactions we’ve had,” said Mr Rehbein.

The data can also give insight into something going wrong. For example, if someone hasn’t moved out of their room for four hours, someone can be alerted to check on them.

The company is working on virtual ceilings to detect when a person is getting up, not when they put their weight on a floor mat which is too late, said Mr Rehbein. You need to know before, he said, likening the floor mats to airbags inflating after a car accident.

The effects of new technologies

New technologies can give greater insight into a business’s operations.

PresCare’s master dashboard provides overview data of occupancy, medicare subsidies, wages, income, and comparison of all residential sites and funding streams.

Existing systems and base core technology can be overlayed with other data to get better insights.

“When we introduced the tablets, the staff had a new lease for life,” said Mr Rehbein. “They were new people, we injected new life into them.”

“A whole lot of young people started to apply for jobs there because they heard about what we were doing.”

Brand new insights were enabled into resident configuration and staff performance, helping to make decisions about rosters, care plans, and costs.

Aged care operators need need to understand their clients in order to be able to deliver a “holistic solution”, said Mr Rehbein.

“But we need to have… innovation already in the pipeline.”

“You also need to understand your core business objectives and leverage existing technology – so you’re not throwing investments out the door – to achieve maximum return on investment,” he said.

The motivation to improve aged care

Mr Rehbein concluded his presentation on a personal note. He talked of his grandmother, who was diagnosed with dementia and eventually went into a nursing home.

“To me, my grandmother is my ultimate customer,” he said.

“She’s passed away now, but I looked at her when she went through dementia, and she was in care. I wanted her, in my eyes, to go into an aged care facility that she was happy to go to.

“In my mind, that’s how I desired it.

“I’m telling you this story because it’s what drives me every day to achieve new ways to take greater care of our customers. And I truly hope it helps you drive you.”

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