Why Memory Care Communities Are Growing

Every day, Grace visits her 78-year-old husband, Andrew, who lives in one of the memory care communities, just a few miles from her home. Andrew has severe Alzheimer's disease and needs 24-hour supervised care in a secure environment.

"It is the most exciting part of my day," says Grace, 75. "I take advantage of that time to feed him and make sure he's comfortable. I don't think he recognizes me, but we still share that special bond," she adds. “Each time I visit, we put in earbuds and listen to music from a single iPod, just like we did back in the day."

For many years, Grace and her two daughters took care of Andrew at home. When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago, they hired a nurse to provide home care. But they later put him in a day program for seniors with memory loss.

"The arrangement was great at first, but as the disease progressed, it was no longer viable. So we opted to move him to a retirement home. That too, couldn't work because he started to wander," says Grace. "Our daughters and I decided to move him to the closest senior living home for specialized care. We're happy that he’s getting the best level of care."

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Many senior living homes offer specialized care for people with memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Grace's story depicts what millions of other American families go through trying to care for a loved one with dementia. At some point, they will have to seek professional help, as home care becomes impractical. And that's where memory care communities come in.

What are memory care communities?

Memory care communities are residential spaces that provide intensive specialized care for people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. They are designed to offer safe, structured environments with routines to lower stress for people with memory problems. Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities have special memory care units for patients with memory lapses. But some memory care communities are stand-alone.

Memory care is a growing segment of the senior housing sector. According to Senior Housing Business, the number of memory care units increased by 55% from 2013 to 2018. And this number is set to rise since World Health Organization projects that dementia cases will hit the 82 million mark by 2030 and 152 million by 2050. Today, there are around 50 million people with dementia globally.

Construction of memory care facilities overheats

A growing number of seniors need memory care services to help live with memory issues. If not for medical success, the number of seniors 65+ with Alzheimer's in the US is projected to grow to nearly 13 million in 2050. This is a significant rise from about 5 million in 2013, as per a report published by the Alzheimer's Association. The report further reveals that more than 6 million Americans are living with Dementia Alzheimer's.

This is a considerable number. But it still doesn't capture the entire need. Alzheimer's is only a single cause of dementia. But there are risk factors like Parkinson's, Huntington's disease, Traumatic brain injury (TBI), and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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Highly specialized memory care facilities strive to offer their patients 24 hour supervision, while using the latest technology to help reduce the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

What's driving the growth in memory care communities?

McKnight Senior Living post shows a rising trend in occupancy for memory care communities. According to the post, there was an 82.7% occupancy rate for stand-alone memory care facilities in the 1st quarter of 2019, an increase from 81.5% in the 2nd quarter of 2018. It further explains that occupancy in freestanding facilities was 85.7% in the 1st quarter of 2019, 300 basis points higher than total occupancy. This growth indicates a strong year for the property type. This growth is attributable to a range of factors, including the following:

A growing population of baby boomers

The senior population 65 to 74 years is set to increase faster than any other demographic segment in the US between 2015 and 2030. The US Census Bureau's 2017 National Projections indicates that all baby boomers will be 65 or older by 2030. This will expand the senior population's size so that 1 in 5 residents will be of retirement age.

But as the number of seniors increases, so too will the number of dementia cases. By 2050, the number of seniors age 65 and older with Alzheimer's may hit the 12.7 million mark. This translates to a massive need for memory care communities. On top of the impact Alzheimer's has on the senior demographic, many people are diagnosed with other types of dementia at a rising rate.

With such cases on the rise, there’s an ever-growing demand for memory care homes. The available units might not be adequate to cater to the increasing need. This explains why dementia care developers are moving fast to build more units across different states in America.

Varying needs for seniors

Currently, those searching for memory care homes for a loved one have a hard time finding facilities that offer the most appropriate combination of care services, culture, and activities of daily living. Each person is unique. And about 25% of residents in senior facilities have three or more medical conditions that make a living without professional care impractical.

Memory care communities are not created equally. The culture, atmosphere, and cost of some facilities may appeal to some residents but not others. So, developers are trying to come up with diverse facilities to match different needs and preferences. They are not only striving to meet the growing demands for units, but also the specific needs of individuals.

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Many families simply cannot take care of their loved ones with memory loss issues. Luckily, some great facilities are out there to help take care of your loved ones.

The use of technology such as Apple watches, fall monitors, heart rate monitors can help reduce care costs but still rely on battery life and some technical knowledge to protect senior living communities of all kinds.

Families need help

The Facts and Figures report by Alzheimer's Association reveals that more than 11 million Americans offer unpaid care for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias. For some, this is a way to protect their loved ones for as long as they can. But for others, it's a way to navigate the cost concerns. The cost of memory care is substantial. Dementia is among the costliest conditions in society.

Home care can be a great way to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. But at the end of the day, most families always end up moving their loved ones to a memory care community. Memory issues need a level of care that’s not easy to provide in home settings.

Although costly, these communities offer specialized care that dementia patients need. They have well thought out a care plan to ensure that all residents are comfortable. They also have technologies and processes to ensure senior safety. For example, they have wearables like fall monitors to alert caregivers in case of a fall and so on. We cannot say the same for home care.

Senior living homes have been expanding their memory care communities to meet the demands of an aging population. Through effective treatments and services, these facilities report improvements in different aspects of residents’ quality of life.

Best Accreditations for Senior & Assisted Living

Long term care facilities offer a range of services to those who aren’t able to live independently. Mostly, these are people aged 65+. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in nursing homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. That’s why the importance of working with an accredited facility can never be overstated. So what is accreditation, and what are the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities to obtain?

Accreditation helps determine if a senior living home meets or exceeds minimum quality standards. When a facility is accredited by a reputable organization, you can rest easy knowing your loved one will be safe and well-cared for. Without such systems in place, it would be impossible to tell the excellent facilities apart from the average ones.

Many accreditation bodies exist in the United States. But as with any other system, these bodies are not created equally. Some are certainly better than others. When it comes to your loved one’s level of care and safety, it’s always a good idea to go with the best. It is hard to imagine your loved one going into an understaffed, or outdated facility that didn’t offer high-quality senior care. This article will highlight the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities to guide you. But before that, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

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Knowing the best accreditations for senior care and assisted living facilities can help your business stand-out, as one of the best in your field.

Senior living licensure vs. accreditation

Senior care providers may get three recognition levels: certification, licensure, and accreditation. Licensure is a type of recognition used in most government systems. It has set rules and directs providers to abide by specific local codes. Providers need to have a license before they can operate. But they must pass some basic licensure test that covers the regulations and rules for operation to get their license. The test also includes an inspection of the facility.

Certification recognizes personal achievements. It’s a proof that a person has attained certain education level or skill set by an institution. Certificates are given to those who successfully finish a specific training or work experience.It shows that the experts can offer nursing care or medical care to older adults.

On top of meeting all the certification and licensure requirements, some providers may voluntarily choose to go through the accreditation process. The main difference between licensure, certification and accreditation is that accreditation is given only after a provider is shown to conform to a set of specific standards. Certification and licensure are, however, needed upfront before services can be performed. Accreditation helps establish whether the provider’s processes produce positive results.

The conformance to standards is typically measured by a third-party body that goes to the senior living facility to review materials and talk to family members, nursing home residents, administration boards, and the staff members. So, accreditation is the recognition by experts that a senior living home meets the highest industry standards.

With that out of the way, here are some of the best accreditation for senior and assisted living.

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Accreditation Commission for Home Care, INC. (ACHC)

ACHC is a nonprofit accreditation body that has stood as a quality and excellence symbol for over three decades. The organization has CMS approval for hospice, home health, renal dialysis, and DMEPOS accreditation. Over the years, ACHC has created the best accreditations for senior and assisted living facilities, that have positively impacted countless organizations. Its standards are built by experts and promote quality services, enhance organizational operations and ensure optimal care. ACHC:

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) Accreditation

CARF is a nonprofit that sets very high standards for care and service. It is a well-known independent accreditation body for human and health care services providers across the United States and Western Europe. CARF accredits continuing care retirement communities and related services that offer hospital, community, and home-based care. The accreditation process starts with a range of steps that include:

CARF has one of the most stringent peer-review processes, making it an admirable accreditation for senior and assisted living facilities. In fact, its standards were set over five decades ago by global partners of policymakers, service providers, and family members. These standards have been subjected to public review to verify the applicability and ensure all stakeholders contribute.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO)

JCAHO is an independent, nonprofit body that accredits skilled nursing facilities and some continuing care retirement communities. But it does assess assisted living homes. The nonprofit tries to consistently enhance care homes by:

JCAHO is a respected body in the health care industry. It has a reputation for its high standards in grading long-term care facilities, hospitals, and service providers.

Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP)

CHAP standards are specific to the community and home-based care. They offer a practical, straightforward guide as per the facility’s specific model. The organization has deeming authority issued by the CMS to determine whether it meets their quality standards and Medicare Conditions of Participation. CHAP:

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Benefits of accreditation

Long-term care facilities use accreditation to improve their performance and display their commitment to safety and quality to external stakeholders. The latest studies show that long-term care accreditation is a risk reduction activity that minimizes the chances of adverse resident outcomes and incrementally enhances a facility’s performance. Besides, accreditation improves community confidence, supports staff education and recruitment, and offers a structure for organizing business and care processes. But most importantly, it enables facilities to set themselves apart in the market of more than different 15,000 nursing homes in the US.

 

How Secure is Blockchain Technology?

Blockchain is spreading across all industries far beyond its initial fintech applications. Companies in different sectors are expanding and diversifying their blockchain initiatives. Indeed, blockchain appears to be entering a new era of broader, more practical adoption, even as those who were skeptical start to grasp its long-term potential. So, how secure is blockchain technology?

The demand for blockchain is soaring at an alarming rate as companies see it's potential. Blockchain promises transparency, scalability and, most importantly, security. Let's take a look at the challenges and vulnerabilities of this burgeoning field of technology.

Security by the blocks

The term blockchain refers to a chain of digital blocks with transaction records. Each block connects with other blocks on either side to form a chain. This makes it hard to alter a single record as one would have to change the block with the record and those connected to it to avoid detection. In addition to this, blockchain has other built-in characteristics that offer extra security. These include:

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Cryptography

Cryptography seeks to prevent third-parties from accessing data from private messages during a communication process. Blockchain uses two types of cryptographic algorithms: hash functions and asymmetric-key algorithms.

Asymmetric cryptography (or public-key) securely encrypts messages between two computers. Anyone can use another person’s public key to encrypt a message. However, one can only use a corresponding private key to decrypt an encrypted message.

Paired private and public keys let users send and receive payments. Private keys generate digital signatures for the transaction. Network members then use the wallet's public key to confirm the signature’s authenticity before adding the transaction to the blockchain. After approval, the transaction is immutably recorded into the ledger, and balances are updated.

On the other hand, the Hash function receives data input of any size and returns an output with a predictable and fixed size. Irrespective of the input size, the output will always have the same size. So, for as long as the input remains constant, the resulting hash will be the same. Hashes are used as unique data block identifiers in the blockchain. Each block's hash is created in relation to the previous block's hash, creating a chain of blocks. If someone changes a block, they will also have to change the entire history of that blockchain. The hash identifiers are what make blockchain secure and immutable.

Decentralization

Blockchain technology relies on a decentralized, digitized, and distributed ledger model. Meaning, it distributes data to nodes (users) on the blockchain network. When a user makes a change, the network validates it; then, miners add the transaction into a new block that’s then added to the blockchain. Miners are users rewarded for updating the blockchain.

Decentralization makes blockchain more robust and secure than proprietary centralized models that are currently in the market. If a user attempts to change a single block, they'd need to change the previous blocks before any new blocks could be mined. If not, the nodes would detect the fraudulent behavior and discard the changes. And since thousands of nodes confirm new blocks, it's less likely for anyone to beat their computing power to add a bad one.

Consensus

Consensus is another attribute that makes blockchain technology secure and fault-proof. It involves all peers of a blockchain network coming together and agreeing about the distributed ledger's present state. Consensus ensures that every new block added to the chain is the only version of the truth agreed upon by all the nodes in the blockchain.

The consensus protocol is reliable as it bases on goals like mandatory collaboration, cooperation and participation of every node. It also ensures that every node has equal rights and that a joint agreement is achieved. Consensus is the brain of blockchain. Without it, blockchain would fail. A good example of consensus is the Proof of Work (PoW). In PoW, 'miners' in a network have to provide the computing power needed to verify transactions and maintain the blockchain – which is a lot. They also need to ensure the network's immunity against hackers. Miners compete to chain the blocks together and can achieve that if they get 51% of votes from the nodes.

But the 51% vote is perhaps the biggest threat to this model. If a minority of colluding nodes own more than 50% of the mining power, they will control the network. They could prevent other nodes from adding new blocks. They'd also expose the network to fraud. But the good thing is that consensus is too expensive. It needs lots of energy and computing power to succeed.

Security challenges

Blockchain produces tamper-resistant ledger transactions that make it immune to fraud and hacks. But people with bad intentions can manipulate the known vulnerabilities in the blockchain infrastructure. In fact, they've been successful in a range of scams and hacks over the years. Some common examples include DAO's code exploitationBitfinex's stolen keys, and Bithumb's insider hacks. These security issues have been a point of concern for many businesses that want to explore blockchain technology. Blockchain creates unique security challenges for a range of reasons:

Blockchain security threats

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Blockchain security threats fall into three main groups:

Endpoint vulnerabilitiesthis is where technology and humans meet. Think devices, digital wallets, private key and password, breach, client-side of the application. A hacker can gain access to an account if any of this endpoint is compromised. But the threat is only limited to a victim's account and nothing further. Besides, companies are now using cold wallets along with hardware security models (HSM) that are difficult to compromise.

Untested code: the original code by Satoshi Nakamoto that resulted in the creation of Bitcoin Blockchain is unbreakable. But the same cannot be said for all code in apps built upon the blockchain. Developers who are in a rush to outdo their peers risk producing inadequately tested code on the live blockchain. Considering the decentralization aspect, the risk is higher because of the irreversibility of blockchain.

Ecosystem/third-party risks: the security of this technology relies on the entire ecosystem. This includes other solution providers like smart contracts, payment platforms, fintech, wallets, etc. With other parties in play, a blockchain application's security is only as strong as its weakest link within the ecosystem.

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Does this mean blockchain is not immutable?

No network is 100% secure. And blockchain is not any different. But since the nodes in a blockchain network are distributed, it is almost impossible to alter the chains. It takes a consensus of more than half of the nodes in the same distributed ledger to make any changes. And the fact that all this has to happen within 10 minutes makes it virtually impossible for a hacker to make changes.

Security and privacy

Blockchain technology resolves the security and privacy issues that most organizations struggle with today. Its public key infrastructure maintains the ledger size and prevents any ill-attempts from changing data. Inasmuch as the large and more distributed network makes blockchain more secure, there are concerns around various aspects. For example, by default, the blockchain design doesn't have confidentiality. All data on-chain is visible to all peers in the network.

Blockchain is hard to crack

The blockchain is still in its infancy stages. And like any technology, it is bound to encounter hurdles along the way. But the good thing is that the security issues are addressed quickly. Developers are also coming up with new versions of blockchains to ensure security. Besides, when compared to other technologies, blockchain does a great job storing and exchanging digital value. This explains why health care, supply chain, Wall Street companies, etc., are all adopting the technology.

 

What is Social Engineering? Can it Bypass Great Security

Social engineering scams revolve around the hacker’s use of manipulation and confidence. These techniques tend to make victims act in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t. Usually, victims act the way they do because of heightened emotions, a sense of urgency, and trust.  

Today’s cyber attackers are smart. They know that companies invest millions of dollars in corporate security features. They also know that every organization has the weakest link – human error. That’s why they keep devising clever ways to manipulate people to give up confidential information. Social engineering is one technique that hackers use to fool unsuspecting users into handing over sensitive information, like passwords, banking information and personal information.

What is social engineering?

It is a form of cyber-attack that exploits people through deception and trickery. It taps into human vulnerabilities like trust, emotions, or habits to gain access to networks, systems, and physical locations. Usually, the attackers intend to trick users into providing details like bank account details, social security numbers, or login credentials. But they may also want to access a computer and secretly install malicious software that gives them control over the computer.

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Attackers use social engineering techniques to hide their real identities and motives. They pose as trusted individuals or experts, but their only intention is to influence, manipulate, or trick users into giving up access or confidential data. A majority of social engineering attacks are based on the way people act and think. As such, these scams are particularly useful in exploiting a user’s actions. Once the hacker understands the reasons behind a target’s actions, he or she can effectively manipulate and deceive them.

How social engineering works

Social engineering attacks happen in one or more steps. First, the hackers run background checks to gather as much information about the target as possible. Then they’ll try to win over the target’s trust and persuade them to reveal confidential information. As opposed to violent methods, fraudsters use persuasion and confidence to prompt the victims into taking actions.

In a nutshell, social engineers:

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What social engineering attacks look like?

Social engineering attacks appear as an ordinary text message, email, phone call, or voice call from a seemingly safe source. Ultimately, it ends with the victim’s action, like exposing themselves to malware or sharing sensitive data.

Many people assume that they can tell scams right off the bat, but today’s attackers are much more advanced. They know how to disguise themselves. And, with a couple of details here and there, they can easily gain access to your organization’s various accounts and networks.

As Kevin Mitnick, a former hacker and social engineering expert, once said, “There isn’t a technology today that can’t be overcome through social engineering.” 

Attackers are using social engineering to attack even the most sophisticated systems. In 2016, for instance, the United States Department of Justice fell for social engineering bait that saw a leak of personal information of 9,000 DHS and 20,000 FBI employees. In the same year, the Democratic National Convention lost over 150,000 emails, thanks to a spear-phishing email that appeared to be a legitimate email from Google. Other famous attacks include Ubiquiti Networks BEC, in 2015, Yahoo hack in 2014, Sony Pictures Hack in 2014, and US Department of Labor Watering Hole in 2013.

Types of social engineering attacks

1.     Email from a trusted source (phishing emails)

Hackers use psychological manipulation to get victims to take different actions. For instance, they may send out an urgent message like this one:

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Most employees will jump into action when they receive such an urgent email from their “boss.” They will even prioritize it over anything else. What’s more, some will proceed with the instructions without asking any questions. Emails may also come from another trusted source – like a friend, industry expert, and so on.

Phishing scams deliberately take advantage of the trust that individuals have in legitimate email owners. Attackers use different phishing methods and platforms, including:

2.     Baiting

In baiting, an attacker leaves malware-infected device where a target can find it. Sometimes, they label it in an appealing way to make it even more luring. When a person picks and plugs it into their machine, they unknowingly infect their computer with malware.

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3.     Tailgating

Also known as piggybacking, tailgating is where a disguised attacker follows an authenticated staff into a restricted area. He or she then asks the employee to hold the door for them, thereby gaining access to the building.

4.     Pretexting

Pretexting involves hackers creating an excellent ploy to try and steal their target’s data. In pretexting, the fraudsters may say that they need some information from their victims to confirm their identity – but they use the information to stage secondary attacks or identity theft. In some cases, the attackers manipulate their victims into doing something that abuses the company’s physical and digital weaknesses.

Unlike in phishing where scammers capitalize on the victim’s urgency and fear, pretexting depends on creating a false sense of trust with the victim. Meaning, the hacker has to build a good story that victims believe.

Social engineering prevention

Security awareness training is the best way to prevent social engineering. Companies should sensitize their teams about social engineering as well as the tactics that attackers use. Employees should know well to delete any requests for passwords or secure financial data. They should also reject requests or offers of help. It’s equally important for companies to update their operating systems and also install firewalls, anti-virus software and email filters.

What are the Newest Hospital Technologies?

The healthcare industry is ripe for some major changes. From patient care and treatment to research and marketing, there are endless opportunities to use technology to deliver more accurate, efficient, and quick interventions at the right moment in a patient’s care. Here are some of the newest hospital technologies and their uses.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the newest hospital technologies today. It is becoming more sophisticated at doing what humans do, but in a precise, quick and affordable way. AI can help in medical diagnosis, mental and behavioral health, medical marketing, human resource management and more.

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Hospitals are now using AI in HR management to streamline workflows. This will allow health care providers to serve maximum patients on any given day without compromising quality. Hospitals are also integrating AI systems to the workflow and scheduling software to allow for real-time adjustments whenever appointments and cancelations come in.

In addition to optimizing workflows, AI is also helping in-clinic decision support systems. It uses electronic health data to get a decision-making outline for enhancing the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of different illnesses based on treatment history patterns, health, and demographics.

AI is also widely used in:

Robotic technology

Robotics, like AI, is quickly changing the healthcare landscape. While the history of robots in healthcare dates back to 1985, there have been massive improvements in the area. Thanks to advances in sensor and motion control technologies, robots are way more autonomous and precise than in the age of PUMA 200. They are not only capable of helping but performing complex surgeries themselves.

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The integration of robots into healthcare operations offers a range of benefits:

Robots are widely used in orthopedics and surgery. In 2019, a surgeon leveraged robotics and 5G internet to perform remote surgery on the brain of a Parkinson’s patient who was nearly 1,900 miles away.

This new technology plays a vital role in creating new care models for the growing senior population. It also solves the challenge of delivering quality solutions to new and underserved markets. In both cases, robotics helps facilities to cut down costs. And the best part is that the current robotic systems are pretty impressive. Surgeons can do more operations in comparable time as before, but with higher success rates.

Blockchain

Blockchain is one of the newest and most important technologies in the world. It is a time-stamped series of unchangeable records of information managed by a network of computers instead of a centralized authority.

Blockchain has extensive uses and applications in healthcare:

Ledger technology can also help manage and prevent future pandemics. This is especially critical, considering how COVID-19 has put the healthcare system to its greatest test of the century. Healthcare systems have had a challenge storing and circulating data in real-time. But now, the CDC in collaboration with IBM and WHO is set to use blockchain to monitor, store, and distribute sensitive data in real-time to facilities for effective and uniform management of the virus.

Other common uses of blockchain technology in healthcare include ownership and security of digital assets, fixing digital display advertising and changing data collections.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

IoMT refers to all medical devices and applications that can connect to the health care data technology system using the internet. The technology facilitates the transition from reactive-to-preventative patient-oriented care.

The IoMT sector is fast-growing and has multiple innovations underway. From patient diagnostic machines to smart monitors, radical solutions are being created to take care of the health care challenges.

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According to Deloitte, the IoMT market is projected to hit the $158.1 billion mark in 2022. Some common uses of IoMT include:

Virtual reality and Augmented Reality 

From improving the patient experience to changing the way medical students learn, these new technologies transform the way things are done in hospitals. Virtual and augmented reality technologies have the potential to make surgical planning easier. Even the most experienced surgeon may come across surprises when performing surgery. But virtual reality and augmented reality may make those instances less common.

The ability to see the inside of the human body in VR is useful to patients and doctors alike. VR allows surgeons to educate patients about their surgical plan. This enhances the understanding of treatment, leading to more patient satisfaction.

Additionally, VR has the unique ability to transport patients to an entirely different place. So, doctors use it to create robust simulations of scenarios where psychological difficulties happen. This cuts out the need for therapists to accompany patients on a trip to a tall building or market place for real-life situations. Other AR/VR uses include:

Personalized mobile applications

Mobile apps are not only great for patient engagement but monitoring and treatment as well. There are vast patient scenarios that use mobile apps in 2020. For instance, one can schedule appointments, check-in, upload medical records, or even get test results through apps.

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Apps help hospitals reduce operational costs, thanks to their ability to relieve some pressure on caregivers, receptionist duties and waiting times. Other common uses of apps include communication and healthcare marketing – helping hospitals get in front of customers. And with the widespread use of mobile devices, app use is only set to increase in the coming years.

Precision medicine

Precision medicine is a new hospital technology that allows doctors to select therapies and medicines to treat patients based on their medical and genetic make-up. Personalization makes treatment more effective. It attacks problem areas (like tumors) based on the patient’s specific proteins and genes. This makes it easy for cancer to be destroyed by treatment.

Other than cancer treatment, precision medicine is also effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It uses the same mechanism to destroy RA's vulnerable genes, weakening the disease and reducing symptoms.

3D printing

3D printers are among the newest technologies on the market today. Experts use these printers to create implants and joints used in surgeries. 3D prosthetics are especially popular, thanks to their unprecedented levels of comfort and mobility. These solutions are usually highly personalized, thus match up the patient’s exact measurements. Other uses of 3D printing in healthcare include printing pills containing multiple drugs and even creating human cells and tissue.

 

Can You Tell When a Senior Care Facility is Understaffed?

When you have a loved one who is elderly, you want to do everything to ensure they are cared for and comfortable. But since senior care is often long-term, you may not be able to be there at all times. Luckily, there are ways to still care for your loved one, even when you are not around. You can hire at-home care services or opt to enroll them in an assisted living or board home. But when a senior care facility is understaffed, there are many problems you should look out for.

If you go the senior living homes route, you should know that many facilities are not the same. They vary based on a range of aspects, including the type of foodservice, housing style, number of residents, extra amenities and cost. Licensed facilities offer the basics of all meals, laundry, housekeeping, recreational activities, transportation to appointments and errands, and wellness and exercise programs. They also provide daily living and medical help.

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By and large, senior living homes offer older adults the compassionate and accurate medical care they need. But still, these facilities are not created equally. Some provide better care than others. That’s why many people worry about the level of care their loved one will get while at a facility.

Some common concerns that many residents and their loved ones cite about their senior care facility include:

These issues arise due to many reasons. However, understaffing seems to be at the center of it all. Senior care services can only run efficiently if they have adequate staff for all duties. Again, staff can only offer the best standard of care if they are supported by others and are working as a team.

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Understaffed senior care facilities typically have fatigued, over-worked employees. This might lead to some very real safety concerns and problems with overall care for their residents.

The problems with a senior care facility being understaffed

When a facility faces staff shortage, responsibilities are dropped, certain duties are neglected and inevitably, the standards of care go down. This is because caregivers are forced to prioritize some residents’ needs over others. Over time, this neglect can result in long-term failure to offer basic needs.

When a senior living home is understaffed, it creates a hostile and stressful environment for both residents and the employees. The team may even become bitter and disgruntled. Members may feel ill-equipped and unsupported to do their job.

Experts believe that majority of bad outcomes arise from insufficient staffing. A low resident to staff ratio may translate to missing serious problems. It may also mean a staff member taking out their frustration on residents.

Abuse and neglect tend to worsen as the resident to staff ratio increases. The abuse and neglect by the caregiver can cause physical illnesses, psychological problems and even death among the residents.

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Abuse and neglect are very serious problems at an understaffed senior care facility.

Seniors are dependent upon the caregivers for their eating, bathing, and medications. But understaffing makes it hard for the caregivers to feed and give all residents medicines on a routine schedule. This can result in nutrition deficiencies, malnutrition, and other complications. Again, when the caregivers have less time to attend to each patient, they might become irritable and end up using unnecessary force when dealing with their residents.

How to tell when an assisted living home is understaffed

According to research, 95% of nursing facilities in America are understaffed. But it’s important to note that what constitutes adequate staffing levels for these homes differ from state to state. So you must watch closely and ensure that your loved one is safe and well-cared for in a home. With that in mind, here are some tell-tale signs that a senior living facility is understaffed.

Decreased employee productivity 

When a senior home is understaffed, you will most certainly see disgruntled and tired workers. Irrespective of how hard the team works, it is hard for a skeleton crew to function at the same efficiency level as a full team. Understaffed facilities lack the manpower to meet the needs of every resident. This raises the residents’ stress levels and causes dissatisfaction.

Lower employee morale

In addition to reduced productivity, you’ll also notice that the caregivers and staff have lower morale. When the team is unhappy, they find it hard to do their jobs correctly and deliver the performance expected in the role. For instance, an unhappy nurse may not issue medications or feed all residents as they are supposed to. He or she may also not reposition a resident after a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, this may cause bedsores and other health issues, especially among those restrained on bed or in wheelchairs.

Too many complaints

Even the best senior homes will still have complaints. However, when the senior care facility is understaffed, you may notice that the complaints are overwhelming. Since the staff has exceptionally high workloads, they may not be in a position to respond quickly to residents’ demands. So residents will always feel as though their needs aren’t met. You may also notice that your loved one tries to do things by themselves – like lifting equipment – because it’s somehow what they are used to doing in your absence.

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At an understaffed facility, many residents are on their own for even some basic needs.

Sudden weight loss

Your loved one might lose weight because of underlying health conditions. But negligence on the part of a tired, overworked caregiver can also cause the resident’s weight loss. If your elderly patient loses a considerable amount of weight within a short time, it could be that they aren’t receiving adequate care in their assisted living facility. It could be that they are not eating well, or they are missing medication and so on. They may also be emotionally drained from everything that’s happening around them.

Evident discontent with a staff member

Sometimes, you may notice that your loved one dislikes, or even rants about a staff member. In some cases, the discontent might be fuelled by the staff’s attitude or action towards them. Caregivers who have too much pressure from their work demands might neglect their duties or even abuse residents physically or psychologically.

Your loved one tells you

This is perhaps the easiest way to tell that a facility is understaffed. Your loved one stays in the facility and they have a good idea of what goes on when you are away. They may not tell you directly that the facility doesn’t have adequate staff, but you might hear them complain, or say things like “no one helps me do this,” or “medicine is always late,” and so on. You can also ask them if you suspect understaffing or related problems at the nursing home facility.

How Virtual Reality is Changing Medicine

Virtual reality (VR) is an area with fascinating possibilities. It's not only making impact in the science-fiction world, but in other industries as well, including healthcare.

Virtual reality technology is playing an increasingly larger role in the healthcare industry. It is changing the way surgeons plan for complex operations. It’s also transforming how medical students learn and patients experience healthcare.

Imagine an elderly patient from a remote town consulting with a world-class medical provider without having to leave their home. A surgical resident practicing surgery in a virtual setting without being in a medical facility. A football player recovering from pain through mind-calming videos. Or a nurse using a vein finder to insert IV on the first try. All these are happening right in front of our eyes, thanks to virtual reality.

Virtual reality models allow patients, surgeons, and their families to see inside the anatomy of the patient. This gives the patient a better understanding of their condition and enables them to make an informed medical decision. It also helps healthcare providers to come up with detailed surgical plans and share those models so that other caregivers can learn these complex procedures.

Let's look at how virtual reality is changing medicine.

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Planning for complex operations

Surgeons and their teams are using VR to plan sophisticated procedures. Initially, they had to piece together a series of 2D images to understand the complex anatomy of the patient or communicate the preoperative plan. But thanks to VR, the medical professionals can now intuitively view, interpret and dissect 3D images of patient-specific anatomy. They can also interact with virtual tissues of a patient and form transections in any plane for better measurements and visualization using a pointing device.

Surgeons use images from ultrasound, CT and MRI scans to create a super-detailed virtual model of the patient's body, and then venture "inside" the tissues or organs to detect potential bottlenecks and plan how these would be avoided during the actual surgery. The 3D aspect of the imagery eases doctors' planning and enhances the accuracy of the operation, to deliver safer procedures. According to Gary Steinberg, professor and chair of neurosurgery at Stanford, VR technology gives much, much more detail than any other technology.

Virtual reality allowed doctors at the Stanford Neurosurgical Simulation Lab to execute a successful brain surgery on a patient with an aneurysm. Before the operation, surgeons were allowed to practice on images from the patient (instead of a generic brain) and lay out a plan upfront. "With the images, we can figure out how to approach the tumor and avoid critical parts like the sensory areas or motor cortex," stated Steinberg. Stanford Medicine doctors apply this technology for the spinal cord and brain surgeries because these organs are stable and lend themselves to imagery.

VR technology also played a crucial part in the successful surgery of conjoined twins at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. The doctors used VR to simulate operation to separate the three-months-old twins. They used software to convert CT and MRI images of the infants to create a 3D model. After putting on the VR glasses to explore the virtual model, the doctors realized a new connective tissue joining the twin's intertwined hearts. They also discovered all the potential risks that would arise by cutting the connection. The doctors used a "track system" in the 3D model of the hearts that allowed them to rotate the twin's heads without distorting the image. It's the ease of movement that helped them identify the solution.

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Medical education and training through VR

The volume and quality of clinical evidence in modern medicine are abundant. However, the delivery channels – including traditional print publications, low-quality user-generated videos, and antiquated websites – remain outdated. For the last decades, medical education has been embracing a new way of learning - virtual reality and streaming media. This not only makes learning interactive and fun but also accessible and scalable.

The 360-degree VR offers an immersive medical education experience. It creates an authentic operating room environment for medical students who are learning new technologies and techniques like robotics and advanced laparoscopy. With different camera angles, including 360-degree panoramic views of OR, surgeon POV and digital overlays that showcase the surgical procedure, learners can experience an authentic operation room environment irrespective of their location.

VR is taking the learning experience to a whole new level. Imagine medical students being able to practice open-heart surgery without the risk of hurting the patient. Again, they can do this while at the medical school, or in the comfort of their own house or office. The training opportunities are limited for students. In fact, first-time surgeons did an operation on a cadaver once before the real procedure, after which a patient's safety was entirely in their hands. But now, they can practice multiple times to perfect their skills. Although the technology won't replace hands-on training, it is a strong tool to complement existing learning.

Another good example of VR in medical training is the "Visible Human" by the Center for Human Simulation (CHS). The synthesis led to a 3D high-resolution database of human anatomy as derived from direct analysis of radiological imaging and anatomical specimens. CHS seeks to facilitate the collaboration of radiologists, anatomists, engineers, educators, physicians, and computer scientists to promote the application of this and other anatomical data to teaching, clinical practice, and research.

VR is a perfect tool for healthcare simulation situational awareness training as it engages different learning areas in the brain in synchrony. The ability to understand how actions, events, and information influence the current and future circumstances is essential in medical settings.

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Virtual Reality to enhance the patient experience 

A survey revealed that patients expect better physician-patient consultation. In the survey, 90% of participants wanted an elaborate sheet from the doctor, explaining their condition and ways to manage it. 70% think GPs can leverage mobile technology, digital tools, and the internet to enhance their experience. From this survey, it is clear that today's patients value technology and are more demanding when it comes to information delivery.

Virtual reality, along with augmented reality, is helping healthcare professionals to expand their expertise through 3D imaging. Traditional MRI and X-ray images, though revolutionary for their time, only offer 2D models. 3D imaging gives the surgeon a 360 view of a patient's organ, allowing them to make better decisions on treatment techniques and also better educate patients about their condition and treatment options.

Doctors are now using immersive experiences to enhance patient experiences. Immersive experience means involving a complete range of the auditory and visual senses. As the term implies, the patient is fully plunged into an alternate environment where they can turn around, look in all directions, and watch as though they were standing there, with a complete view of the world. VR can take the patient's mind away from the hospital room to a whole new present state. That's why it's widely used for fear anxiety and pain relief.

Research shows that VR, among other immersive technologies, can distract and calm patients, reducing the pain sensation. Virtual reality seems to be effective in pain relief, irrespective of the type of pain. A study performed by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, LA, revealed a 24% drop in pain scores after using VR goggles to watch calming content.

What Exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The world is all the rage about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its impact on almost every aspect of existence. But what is IoT, exactly? Why is it so important? And how are key industries applying IoT?

What is IoT?

IoT refers to the network of physical devices – things – that are embedded with software, sensors, and other technologies to collect and share data with other systems and devices over the internet. These “things” could be as a simple health-tracking wearable or as complex as self-driving cars whose sensors detect objects in their path.  

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The Internet of Things has the potential to revolutionize the way we communicate, work and live our lives. IoT technologies are already being implemented in daily life through industries across the globe.

Although it is still somewhat of a work in progress, IoT is set to change the way people do things, with experts suggesting that it will have the biggest technological impact since cloud computing. There are billions of IoT devices today. In fact, the number of IoT products has surpassed the human population on the planet.

Research by Statista revealed that the number of IoT connected devices is expected to reach 31 billion by the end of 2020, and grow to 75 billion globally by 2025. At this rate, IoT is set to impact all areas of life in the years to come, leading to a smart world that initially was only imaginable in science fiction.

How IoT works:

From sensors to user-interface, IoT devices collect, send, and act on data by communicating with each other in ways that allow users to obtain real-time insights. A complete IoT system features four components: sensors, connectivity, data processing, and user interface. Let’s look at these components and their roles in an IoT system.

Sensors: IoT sensors gather data – like location, images, motion, air quality, light, temperature – from their surroundings. A sensor could be used alone, or as part of multiple sensors in a device (think about GPS, a camera, or a cellular phone accelerometer). Either way, the idea is for data to be recorded from the environment by some type of device.

Connectivity: IoT devices share the sensor data by linking to an IoT gateway or other edge computing device where information is either analyzed locally or sent to the cloud. But cloud computing is an appealing option for many companies, considering the amount of data IoT applications generate.

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IoT technology connects devices across the globe, with real-time data, analysis and reporting.

Data process: Once the data reaches the cloud, the software does some form of processing on it. This could be as simple as confirming that the temperature reading is within the specified range or as complex as identifying objects using computer vision in videos and so on. In case something is not right, the user gets a notification.

User interface: Lastly, the system sends a notification to the user through text, email, etc. For instance, the user gets an email notification when the temperature is too high in the cold storage. On the other hand, the user can have an interface that enables them to monitor the system proactively. Like if they want to look at the video feeds in their house through a web browser or phone. And depending on the IoT application, one can even signal the system to do something – like raise the temperature when it falls below the optimum degree.

The Internet of Things also uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to make the data collection process easier and more dynamic.

Why is IoT so important?

When something is connected to the internet, it means that it can send and receive data. The ability to send and receive data makes things smart – and smart is good.

IoT offers individuals and companies the opportunity to be more efficient in the way they do things. All while saving time, money, and emissions in the process. It will allow governments, public authorities, and organizations to rethink how they produce goods and deliver services. The scope and quality of data across the IoT provides an opportunity for much more responsive and contextualized interactions with devices, which creates the room for change.

This is perhaps why most modern enterprises are already using IoT to simplify and automate most of their daily tasks. The world IoT market will increase from $157 in 2016 to $457 billion in 2020, achieving an AGR of 28.5%, according to Forbes. In industrial settings, IoT technology is applied not just for automation reasons but also to boost productivity, enhance business processes, generate an additional revenue stream, expand to new markets, improve customer experience, and lower operational costs. Industrial IoT is all about getting real-time data that allows leaders to make better and timely decisions.

In a nutshell, IoT allows business leaders and managers to:

How are key industries applying IoT?

IoT in healthcare

When applied in the healthcare industry, IoT could improve the efficiency and quality of treatment as well as the health of patients. IoT in hospitals allows interoperability, machine-machine communication, and data exchange, which makes service delivery effective. Again, real-time monitoring through connected devices can save lives in the event of an emergency. This can be further developed with AI (artificial intelligence) technology that can help process data instantly, assisting doctors with the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Other uses of IoT in the healthcare field include remote medical assistance, research, tracking & alerts, and data assortment & analytics. Forbes estimates 646 million IoT devices will be used in medical offices, clinics, and hospitals by 2020. As such, healthcare facilities will prioritize finding appropriate storage and implementing IoT security measures.

IoT in senior care

Senior care, such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes can greatly benefit from the application of IoT technology in their operations. Real-time monitoring will help you offer your residents the best-in-class care. IoT technologies, like Senior Sense can also help reduce your legal liability through real-time monitoring, data detection, staff quality control and management.

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IoT devices can make healthcare management systems more streamlined. With encryption, data privacy is no longer a worry.

IoT in transport

IoT has the potential to change the transport sector by profoundly influencing how systems collect data by bringing together all major technical and business trends of automation, mobility, and data analytics. The information collected from sensors, actuators, and other devices can then be assessed by relevant bodies to: improve the traveler experience, increase safety, improve operational performance, and reduce congestion and energy use.

IoT in supply chain management 

 IoT allows logistics managers to connect their devices, equipment, and vehicles to get real-time status updates on tasks. This provides a full picture throughout the supply chain, from the warehouse to stakeholders and clients. Use cases of IoT in supply chain management include location tracking, environment sensing, and fleet management.

IoT in agriculture

IoT improves the entire agriculture system by tracking the field in real-time. Thanks to sensors and interconnectivity, IoT in agriculture saves farmers’ time and also reduces the misuse of precious resources like electricity and water. Internet of Things technology keeps aspects like temperature, humidity, and soil under check, giving farmers a precise real-time observation. Other applications of IoT in agriculture are livestock tracking and geofencing, remote control of self-driving tractors, agricultural drones, smart greenhouses, and predictive analytics for smart farming.

IoT in homes

A Smart Home is perhaps one of the most prominent examples of IoT. IoT lets one control everything, including lighting, temperature, sound, and any other object that connects to the internet, virtually. Projections show that the smart home global market will reach up to $53 billion by 2022. IoT platform not only allows homeowners to monitor and control a full range of functionality on the web or mobile apps, but also optimize spending, improve comfort, and enhance security.