I choose to believe that all types of post acute care facilities should take steps to incorporate digital health technologies into their settings. It will be a competitve advantage, to be sure. And, it won't be particularly easy. However, the technologies have the potential to keep seniors living independently for extended periods, to support caregivers and families, and to improve the quality of care for patients and residents.
If you accept this premise, then I would suggest that you consider applying the following suggestions which-in combination-are most likely to lead to a successful digital health technology initiative.
1. Commitment from the Board of Trustees and top management to support the initiative at the outset, and throughout the period of implementation.
2. Incorporate digital health technology experimentation and adoption in the entity's strategic plan.
3. Encourage a culture of innovation ("Failing your way to success!"). I worry that a process or top down culture may scuttle a successful technology effort.
4. Install enterprise-wide Wi-Fi, and try to identify and eliminate eliminate dead zones as much as possible. Having WiFi in common areas only just won't cut it.
5. Identify product champions in management, nursing and information technology, and give them the resources and recognition necessary to get the job done.
6. Conduct extensive research on alternative technologies, and select the one which is most likely to be accepted in your particular facility. The first technology chosen might be voice, telehealth or care robots. Don't try to pilot more than one technology at a time. Do one well, before considering another technology. Consider that over time, you'll be adopting a number of new or improved technologies in support of your mission.
7. Once you decide to pilot a technology, be sure to fund it adequately and establish metrics which include customer satisfaction and improved clinical oucomes.
8. Be sure to include a guided orientation to the new technology, and consider a "Help Desk" to support everyday users. Often, seniors are unsure of how to enable or disable an Alexa skill, or how to pair Alexa with wireless lighting, air conditioning, or security devices.
9. Encourage residents to chart their own way with the technologies and to share their stories of success or failure. Tech-savvy seniors may be more numerous than you might imagine.
10. Seek out academic partners to provide guidance and support for your initiatives. It is in everybody's best interest to insure that the healthcare leaders of tomorrow are well versed in advanced technologies!
I hope that these suggestions are useful. I welcome your critical commentary.