Lawmakers have just proposed a dozen bills that would overhaul residential care facilities for the elderly, or RCFEs. The measures included in the RCFE Reform Act of 2014 would address a variety of medical mistakes and errors stemming from poor oversight and lack of training for long-term care facility staff.
An investigation of 7,000 state records of assisted-living center inspections by U-T San Diego and the California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting is a major step forward in how we begin to deal with existing facilities and determine what the next generation of long-term care facilities needs to look like in the future.
Throughout the next few decades, more and more baby boomers will leave the workforce and start their retirement. The population of people 65 and older is expected to reach 89 million by 2050, and a good portion of those senior citizens will require healthcare treatment for chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes or lung diseases.
In a May 2013 PBS story, “How Growth of Elderly Population in U.S. Compares With Other Countries,” author and economic expert Francesca Columbo points out that the growing number of the elderly will create an expensive burden on health and social care services in the United States.
Technological advances in telemedicine is helping to alleviate that burden; CNBC notes in a January 2014 article that telemedicine as a form of patient monitoring has helped to keep more senior citizens in their homes and out of nursing homes, where the cost of healthcare is higher.
Already, some healthcare providers have made the transition to tablet computers and mobile software solutions. These providers use this mobile technology to record patient information while retaining the patient’s privacy and remaining in contact with the patient’s primary care physician.
In the future, it appears feasible that mobile technology will be adapted for the inspections of nursing homes and long-term care (LTC) facilities. Currently, these nursing homes and long-term care facilities must pass rigorous and thorough inspections at regular intervals to receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the inspections rely on detailed quality indicator surveys conducted by state-based surveyors such as registered nurses, social workers, dietitians and other specialists.
Through the use of smartphones, tablet computers and a mobile data collection system such as COMMANDmobile®, the process of evaluating nursing homes and LTC facilities could be made faster and more efficient. Features of this type of mobile technology system would include:
1) Privacy – COMMANDmobile would protect unauthorized users from accessing information stored on tablets or smartphones, so that patient data would remain confidential in accordance with current HIPAA laws.
2) Customizable surveys – Data collected for the surveys could be customized to meet federal and state regulations.
3) Secure records of complaint investigations – Surveyors could create electronic forms for any complaint investigations that took place during quality indicator surveys.
4) Portability – Mobile devices used in the survey could be easily used in different locations, with less reliance on electrical outlets.
5) Ease of use – COMMANDmobile may be utilized with multiple mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Androids.
For further details about COMMANDmobile, request a demo account or see our product information video.
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