Personalized data: the game changer for resident-centered care

Questions and answers to help you on the path to data-driven care

Can we improve the quality of long-term care with personalized data? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. In fact, by using data more intelligently, we can transition from reactive to proactive healthcare and even prevention. The first step is to let go of some old practices, and then embrace the potential of health technology and data.

An elderly woman sits on a sofa and interacts with a female visitor; the resident wears a teleCARE pendant.
September 25, 2023

Magnus Nilsson, Global Segment Manager at Ascom Sweden

Smart sensors collect vast amounts of data about residents’ health in long-term care facilities, like nursing homes and assisted living communities. But are we exploiting this data to its full potential? Are we using data to better look after individual resident’s needs? Or to ease staff workflows to free up time for more rewarding care? Not really. Outside of critical care and hospitals, the use of personal data is not yet common practice. Moreover, managing sensitive personal data brings about its own technical and operational challenges.

Avoid alarms without context

There’s much to be gained from a data-driven approach in the world of alarms. Current alarms are static and reactive. Although sensors have access to smart data, they do not take context into account. Alarms are associated with rooms or beds, rather than being linked with the identity and background of the residents, leading to countless alerts and alarms on fixed lines, pagers, and smartphones.

Care becomes efficient when we connect sensor data, for instance from smart mattresses, smart cameras, and motion detection to individual persons. By leveraging smart algorithms, we can filter the data and present it in personalized user-friendly dashboards for care providers.

How does this facilitate more efficient care?

Consider an example. By applying sensor technology in a nursing home, nightly rounds can be made more efficient, or even eliminated altogether. At present, these rounds are carried out several times a night based on standard work processes. First, we interpret the data into a status, such as 'in bed', 'in bathroom', 'out of room', 'in chair', and so on. By connecting these statuses to a personal profile, we make the data personal. For one resident, a trip to the toilet may signal a risky situation. For another resident, if they return to bed within 10 minutes, it may not be the case.

In this way, we balance risk and resident safety, enhancing quality of life by reducing unnecessary disturbances, especially during the night. This not only promotes better sleep for residents but also saves crucial time for caregivers – time that can be spent on the needs of other residents.

What is required to leverage personal data?

There is no one-size-fits-all technology that can address every 'personalized care' situation. Every resident is unique and requires different statuses. You apply technology based on what is needed. An open lifestyle monitoring system becomes essential to integrate different types of sensors. By simply importing data or status, one platform can provide a clear profile for each resident. Collecting more data then leads to insights into patterns, facilitating a shift from reactive care, and opening up possibilities for preventive care.

How can sensitive data be managed responsibly?

Responsible data management of sensitive information in healthcare requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses legal compliance, technical safeguards, access control, and a commitment to ethical data handling. It involves a comprehensive approach that ensures the protection, integrity, and ethical handling of such information.

Of course, the collection and processing of sensitive data are closely scrutinized. C Compliance with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is fundamental. This involves understanding the legal framework, identifying the patient or resident’s rights, and adhering to strict guidelines for data processing, storage, and sharing.

Therefore, personal data must be managed securely. This can be done by applying rigorous technical safeguards and implementing strong cybersecurity measures to help prevent unauthorized access data breaches. Also with the use of personal accounts for caregivers where each user should have a unique login, enabling granular access control and auditing. This means that data access is restricted to only those who need it for their specific roles.

Considering all the ethical implications of data collection and processing, it is important that data is used only for its intended purpose and that it respects the rights and privacy of individuals.

Close-up of electronics and mobile devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet) displaying the Unite SmartSense interface.

What does this mean for an organization's culture?

The use of data requires effort and commitment from caregivers and, in certain cases, a major cultural shift. Care providers must trust in the reliability of the generated data. An all-too-common scenario is them doubting the alarms and verifying the status of a resident by visiting the room. Trust-building requires time, experience, and the right guidance and advice.

How do you guide the transition to data-driven care?

To make the transition to data-driven care successful, it is crucial that staff embrace data and technology. Educating them about the benefits of data and training them to read and apply it effectively is important. Encourage employees to experiment with and adapt to this new way of working. Conducting regular evaluations will foster growth, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate the implementation of necessary changes.

Program leaders and ambassadors of this transition are vital. They serve as the critical link between management, caregiving, and IT. They play an important role in implementing healthcare dashboards, coaching employees, and developing new care plans and strategies based on collected data.

From alarms to monitoring

The potential of data-driven work is boundless. Picture a future where individuals can live independently for much longer while enjoying a better quality of life. Where intelligent monitoring acts as a vigilant eye, detecting and preventing critical emergencies before they happen. And where lifestyle monitoring contributes to better health outcomes. This will support the creation of long-term care that is resilient, sustainable, and accessible to all.

If you are looking to implement data-driven care in your facility, check out our dedicated long-term care resources for suitable technology and solutions. Including several case stories of successful implementations for inspiration. 

And do not hesitate to get in contact with our experts for any specific advice and guidance.

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