A just-published research paper by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care, has come to the not entirely unsurprising conclusion that the current technology targeted to the LTC area is helpful but won’t displace any workers from their jobs in the immediate future. The qualitative study evaluated 13 current health tech technologies in 14 areas for their potential impact on the care of older persons as it affects LTC workforce recruitment, training, and retention.
Some key findings were:
- Technology will not even come close to replacing the LTC workforce. At most it will aid LTC workers.
- Tools such as data collection and remote patient monitoring systems that distribute data to the care team can improve staff’s understanding of client behavior and manage day-to-day tasks
- Technology can also address workforce recruitment, retention, and staffing efficiency, such as predictive analytics used in identifying candidate suitability, improved staff management in shift scheduling, work location, and clientele, and real time location tracking, can improve the work environment
- Technologies that monitor health and activity measurements, integrating with predictive modeling, can benefit clients, family caregivers, and care teams, but may suffer from complexity and duplication in their category.
- Educational tools also improve care delivery by instructing on proper caregiving techniques, increasing knowledge on medical or behavioral conditions, and by promoting sympathy/empathy
Some of the barriers included:
- It comes at a cost which LTC is reluctant to pay
- Initial and ongoing cost with lack of third-party Medicare/private reimbursement
- Dependence on unattractive long term subscription-based models
- Threats to privacy and the security of health data
- Potential differences in product specificity or acceptance among diverse racial and ethnic groups
- Technology lacking user-centered design and not developed/tested in conjunction with real-world LTC
- Funding: only two US VCs fund LTC tech is a bit of an exaggeration, but the pool of interest is shallow nonetheless
The overall conclusion struck this Editor as less than enthusiastic, perhaps because We’re Not There Yet and it’s still so far away.
The appendix lists the 13 companies surveyed with summaries of each health tech company interviewed: Alma’s House (Sweden), Arena (staffing/recruitment), Canary Health (education/caregiver education), CarePredict (wearables/alert monitoring), Clear Care (management). Embodied Labs (education), Intuition Robotics (ElliQ), GrandCare (monitoring/client engagement), Honor (staffing), La
Valeriane (documentation), LifePod (voicetech/monitoring), UnaliWear (wearables/monitoring), VisibleHand (documentation/EHR).
The study was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).com. UCSF summary, The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Long-Term Care & the Health Workforce (full text) Hat tip to Laura Mitchell of GrandCare via Twitter