Achieving Scalable & Cost-Effective Contact Tracing With Technology
By: John SanFilippo
With RSV, flu, and COVID-19 all spreading across the country, many are worried about the possibility of a “tripledemic” overwhelming hospital emergency departments. There is a similar concern in senior living. Senior communities and skilled nursing facilities can become hot spots very quickly, as we learned during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the nature of congregate care settings, senior living providers need a better way to identify at-risk residents and prevent the spread of illness. Next to testing, contact tracing could be the most effective way to stem the spread of illness.
Contact tracing traditionally has been a manual and cumbersome process. Depending on the size of the senior living community, completing an analysis and putting the necessary protocols in place could take a full day. The process requires capturing, for a two-week period, all of the places that a resident has been and for how long, including identifying the visitors, staff members and other residents with whom they have been in contact. Most of this information comes from the memories of residents and staff. And the process needs to be followed every time someone tests positive.
To replace the manual process, senior living operators need technology that is scalable, affordable, faster, more accurate and can be used across communities. To be effective, contact tracing solutions must perform three functions:
- Identify people at risk quickly and easily.
- Support case management protocols.
- Minimize the spread of infection.
Real-Time Location Systems Helping Identify Those at Risk
Real-time location systems, or RTLS, are not new technology, yet helping to contain these viruses provides the perfect scenario for their broad use. Before, RTLS helped communities identify the location of their residents. It now plays a critical role in helping communities identify the residents and employees most likely exposed to the infection in a profound and accurate way. RTLS captures where people are, with whom, and for how long. This is the exact information a community needs to know when someone has an infection.
The Next Step: Case Management
Once you have identified an infection, you need to act quickly. Response time is key to avert a crisis and minimize risk. Technology with an integrated case management application makes action seamless. Manually processing this information could take a full day. That’s a whole day away from the person’s normal job. Technology makes this process fast and simple and allows operators and caregivers to act quickly.
Preventing The Spread
Technology also can help a community prevent the spread of any infectious disease once it has penetrated the outside walls of the building. Geofencing, which is a component of RTLS, creates an invisible perimeter around a physical space, providing the ability to limit access in or out of that space. For a senior living community, the system can limit access to a resident apartment and send an alert if someone tries to exit or enter that space. For caregivers, it also could notify them to put on the appropriate protective gear before entering a space, a more dignified approach than placing a sign on the door. Communities could use this same technology to enforce social distancing by creating room occupancy limits. You can, in essence, put geofences around locations, set occupancy at a certain number, and send an alert to the nearest caregiver if that number is exceeded. Both the location and the restrictions are adjustable variables.
Ensure360SM From Sentrics Helping Your Community Become Contact Tracing Ready
There is no right answer when it comes to managing infectious diseases such as COVID, RSV or the flu. Every provider needs to make choices about what best solves its problem at a cost it can afford.
One great solution is Ensure360 from Sentrics. It is a next-generation life safety solution that puts care and efficiency at your fingertips. It is RTLS-based eCall that leverages sophisticated sensors, integrations with popular third-party platforms and a rules-based engine to keep residents safe, improve caregiver efficiency and reduce the risk and expense of adverse events. Not sure RTLS is for you yet? Use Ensure Lite and gain many of the same benefits while keeping the door open for an RTLS upgrade later.
Ensure360 is part of an integrated suite that gives communities a 360-view of a resident’s physical, medical, social and cognitive needs to improve outcomes, reduce risk and provide a better experience. To find out more, go to sentrics.net or call (888) 988-8210.