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Michael Reph, Account Executive, Parker, Smith & Feek

Can Gaming Technology Help Senior Living Operators Eliminate Resident Falls?

By Michael Reph
Account Executive
Parker, Smith & Feek

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Original Publish Date: March 7, 2017

How far would the stakeholders of your senior living facility (e.g. nursing staff, operators, and owners) go or be willing to spend to achieve a resident fall rate of less than 2.0 per 1,000 days? For a rate of less than 1.0 per 1,000 days? The CDC reports that the average cost of a fall is over $30,0001 for the added care costs alone (not including potential litigation/settlement costs, which can vary widely between incidents), meaning there is significant financial incentive to lower the occurrence of falls in any healthcare setting, particularly in assisted living (ALF) and skilled nursing facilities (SNF). Obviously, SNF/ALF facilities with higher fall rates have more to gain by implementing procedures and technologies that can directly contribute to fewer falls.

Consider this innovative approach to reducing falls. In a recent three-month pilot study, Mission Health out of Ashville, North Carolina, eliminated patient falls entirely across a 98-patient study, with a technology commonly used in Microsoft Xbox consoles:

The technology uses depth sensors to detect movement, while infrared cameras create invisible barriers that trigger an alert…Through a two-way audio system, virtual sitters could intervene verbally to prevent a patient from getting up from a bed or chair, preventing a potential fall and circumventing the need for nurse intervention.2

Falling and mishandling residents is the number one insurance claim and litigation issue of senior living facilities, making this risk particularly concerning to senior living operators. Before the pilot study, this particular nursing unit had an overall fall rate of 5.74 per 1,000 patient days, “despite a multicomponent fall prevention program, compassionate care staff and strong culture of safety.” 1 Although their initial fall rate was higher than the average rate nationwide of 3.6 per 1,000 days3, the fact that they eliminated falls completely during this small pilot period is impressive.

Michael is a Commercial Account Executive and manages relationships from a broad range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, food processing, and real estate. He specializes in his organization's Healthcare Practice Group with a focus on physician groups and aging services. Michael is responsible for developing cost effective insurance and risk management programs that suit each client’s specific needs.

Michael can be reached at 425-709-3724.

1 Burns EB, Stevens JA, Lee RL. The direct costs of fatal and non-fatal falls among older adults—United States. J Safety Res 2016:58.
2 Sweeney, E. (2017), Mission Health System uses video game technology to eliminate patient falls. FierceHealthcare, 1-23-17. http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/it/mission-health-system-uses-video-game-technology-to-eliminate-patient-falls?
3 Donaldson, N., Brown, D. S., Aydin, C. E., Bolton, M. I., & Rutledge, D. N. (2005). Leveraging nurse-related dashboard benchmarks to expedite performance improvement and document excellence. Journal of Nursing Administration, 35(4), 163-172.+

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