For years, skilled nursing facilities have struggled to stay in business despite mounting pressure on all fronts. An increased number of elderly people with chronic conditions, a decrease in the number of people covered by private insurance, and a general decrease in overall reimbursement rates have all put SNFs under immense financial strain.
To combat these pressing issues, SNF management personnel everywhere look to AI and emerging technologies. In this article, we’ll go over several AI and tech-based innovations and how they are transforming SNF management and patient care.
Virtual Reality for Entertainment, Training, and Tours
One of the most frequently used forms of technology is virtual reality (VR) technology. Residents are now immersing themselves in VR games and simulations to pass the time and get active. Some residents find that they enjoy their stay more when they get to use VR.
That same technology holds excellent potential for staff training and onboarding. VR can train staff on handling difficult situations, such as managing aggressive behaviors or providing end-of-life care.
But that’s not all; potential residents and their families can do a VR tour of the facility before coming in to see the facility in person. This can help them to get a feel for the layout of the building and whether it may be a good fit on the surface.
Chatbots for Enhanced Customer Service
SNFs also utilize AI via chatbots. A chatbot is a program that simulates a back-and-forth exchange with a human. These bots can be used to provide information to residents and their families, answer general questions about the facility, and even schedule appointments. By automating these functions, chatbots can free up nurses and front-desk staff to provide more direct patient care or work more extensively on more important back-end functions.
Illness Diagnosis and Treatment & Medication Administration
AI and emerging technologies have been praised for improving the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment in SNFs. For example, some facilities are using wearable devices to track at-risk residents’ vital signs. This data can then be analyzed by AI algorithms to look for patterns that may indicate a developing illness.
Additionally, AI-enabled robots are being used to dispense medications and provide other forms of treatment, such as physical therapy. By automating these tasks, nurses can spend more time with their patients and provide them with the personalized care they deserve.
Nursing Home Software for Back End Operations
In addition to the direct care that AI can provide, there is also a growing number of nursing home software solutions that are designed to help with back-end operations. These solutions can automate tasks such as staff scheduling, payroll, and billing. Additionally, they can help with tracking resident data and generating reports. By automating tasks like these, nursing home administrators can spend more time on strategic planning and providing outstanding patient services.
Here are a few software applications that nursing homes use:
- McKesson: McKesson offers a variety of software solutions for nursing homes, including EHR, financial management, and human resources solutions.
- Cerner: Cerner provides a complete suite of healthcare IT solutions for skilled nursing management, including EHR, population health, and revenue cycle management solutions.
- Epic: Epic offers a total EHR solution, as well as a variety of other healthcare IT solutions.
Though there are many different software applications available for nursing homes, these are just a few of the most popular options.
Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSSs) for Managerial Support
AI can also be used to help nursing home clinicians with day-to-day operations. Clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) are software applications that use AI algorithms to provide recommendations to clinicians based on a patient’s individual data.
CDSSs assist clinicians in a variety of ways, including:
- To create individualized care plans for residents.
- To monitor residents for changes in their condition.
- To provide early alerts for potential problems.
*CDSSs are used to assist providers, not lead them.
By using CDSSs, carers can glean a better understanding of their residents’ needs and be better prepared to provide them with the best possible care.
The Effects of AI and Technology on Nursing Homes
Some believe that AI and technology will have a negative effect on nursing homes. For example, some worry that automation will lead to job losses for nurses. Others believe that AI will make it easier for nursing home managers to cut costs by reducing the need for staff.
But as of now, we're not seeing any widespread adverse effects of AI in nursing homes. In fact, AI is having a positive impact on many nursing homes. These technologies are helping to improve the quality of care that residents receive, as well as the efficiency of nursing home operations. And this is incredibly important, given the fact that the nursing home population is expected to grow in the coming years. Without these advancements, many nursing homes would flounder under the increased demand we expect to see over the next few decades.
Additionally, AI and technology are helping to create new opportunities for nursing homes to provide more personalized care for their residents. With the continued development of these technologies, it is likely that the positive effects on nursing homes will only continue to grow.
The future of AI and technology in nursing homes is bright, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s crucial to start implementing these technologies in your facility as soon as is feasible for you. We hope that this article has given you a better understanding of how AI is being used in nursing homes and how it can benefit your facility. We wish you the best as you navigate the rocky landscape of SNF operation and strive to boost your facility's quality of care. After all, your residents deserve the best!