Value. Quality. Innovation.

Sign Up for Updates:

News Roundup: July 22, 2013

Senior Care Research Shows Aging In Place is Viable Through Tech

Published by Home Health Care News
Elizabeth Ecker
July 16, 2013

Research being conducted at the University of Missouri could revolutionize home care for those who receive it—as well as those who provide it.

Hinging on devices that help capture activity and movement among senior residents of independent living apartments, the research, which recently received a new round of grant funding, has found seniors can remain independent through the early detection of potential health situations.

“We can detect health event changes 10 days, two weeks, a month ahead of when a major health event is about to happen,” says Marilyn Rantz, Associate Director, for the university’s Interdisciplinary Center on Aging.

”What the means, is if you give people a heads up, clinicians can assess and resolve a situation while it’s in the early stage and not have it become full-blown, resulting in a hospitalization, or [intensive care unit] stay, an emergency room visit or a fall.”

The research team, which has a new study underway following the most recent funding, has partnered with two independent living communities to test motion sensors and bed sensors in the apartments of 70 test subjects.

The use of the devices rests on the ability to place them so they are not obtrusive in any way. They then react to change in behavior, sending a signal back to care providers or clinicians.

“Day to day it needs to be non-present because we don’t want people to think about it. It doesn’t have to be the thing you get up and think about.”

The researchers have partnered with tech provider Proactive Sense on the installation and maintenance of the devices. The cost is $200 per Internet-enabled residence per month, which operates like cable service and includes a depth camera, bed sensor and enough passive infrared sensors for the size of the residence. Proactive Sense also provides care coordination by a team of skilled nurses and is currently marketing to senior living communities with a planned launch in homes next year.

The home care component, while still new, has vast potential, Rantz says.

“I see this as a potential use in home health care to augment home care services for older people in that the alerts can be sent to family members, to the residents themselves or to a home health agency,” Rantz says. “That’s the vision for the use of this technology.”

Healthcare Job Growth Supports Economy

Published by Healthcare Finance News
Kelsey Brimmer
July 15, 2013

As nearly every industry in the country has struggled in the recent recession, healthcare has bucked the trend, continually adding jobs and helping to fuel the country’s economic recovery.

“Healthcare is a strong and growing industry compared to others,” said Martha Ross, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. She is the author of the program’s Healthcare Metro Monitor Supplement, which tracks the role of the healthcare industry in the economy and the economic recovery. “The healthcare industry actually accounts for more than one in 10 jobs in the country,” she added. “We’re actually more healthcare intensive now than before the recession.”

Over the past decade, the healthcare industry has added 2.6 million jobs nationwide, which accounts for a 22.7 percent employment growth rate compared to the 2.1 percent growth rate among all other industries, according to the supplement.

In 11 metropolitan areas across the entire country, healthcare has accounted for more than 25 percent of the area’s job growth, Ross said. The supplement reports the metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of healthcare jobs are clustered in the industrial Midwest, which has been losing many factory jobs, and in Florida, with its large and growing population of retirees.

Part of the reason for the growth in the healthcare industry has been the pressure to expand care access and improve quality, Ross said.

But the push to control healthcare spending coupled with the strains of caring for a growing aging population are challenges to the continued growth of healthcare jobs.

Some of the professions in the healthcare sector that will be growing the most are those that will directly support the aging population – nursing assistants and homecare aides. These are workers that perform important work, said Ross, but because of low wages and limited career ladders have a high turnover rate.

“In this overall context with cost pressures, it’s a tricky situation,” she said. “There are options to improve workers’ skills and responsibilities in these job fields, but that requires them to get paid more. This means reducing spending in other places. There’s room in the system for this but finding the right places to cut costs could be really tricky. Only time will tell.”