Boomers to get hooked up with IoT and predictive aged care

Thomas Holt is looking to change the way aged care services are delivered through the use of IoT and predictive analytics.

As aged care service providers come to terms with legislative changes that provide consumers with greater choice, Thomas Holt is forging ahead with its digital transformation initiative to improve the quality of life for residents, drive efficiencies for care workers, and differentiate itself in the market.

Earlier this year, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise announced it was providing Thomas Holt Aged Care with a network and communications infrastructure upgrade that will form the backbone of an IT strategy that will see Thomas Holt's new 120-bed aged care facility, 'Seymour Shaw Court' in Sydney's Sutherland Shire, become one of the most modern facilities in Australia.

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George Lymbers, CIO at Thomas Holt

Image: Supplied

George Lymbers, CIO, Thomas Holt Aged Care, told ZDNet that there's a new cohort -- the baby boomers -- around the corner and they're going to demand the technology they've become accustomed to.

"We're facing competition from the likes of Airtasker, Menulog, and even Netflix, all technologies that enable the elderly to procure odd-jobs, have food delivered, and be entertained without leaving their home," Lymbers said.

"As such, Thomas Holt is entering a new realm of hyper-connectivity that enables residents to have the exact same technology experience that would have at home, coupled with professional medical and aged care.

"It's about working with our residents from an overall quality of experience perspective, not a task-based perspective."

Lymbers said what Thomas Holt is doing demonstrates a "real digital transformation" that goes beyond an upgrade from paper to digital files.

"We decided that the old or existing paradigms don't actually fit the business model or the care models that we want to deliver moving forward," Lymbers said.

"The technologies we picked are cutting-edge technologies that gather information and data about the resident in the [room] and revert that data immediately into an active real-time response."

The sensors fitted throughout the new facility, combined with the smartwatches that residents will have the choice to wear, will allow Thomas Holt's Livecare 360° platform to know, at any given time, the location and well-being of its residents.

Lymbers said the information captured by the sensors will be converted into real-time data and sent off to relevant parties such as the resident's nominated healthcare provider or nurses and aged care workers internally so they can respond to queries and requests.

"If [the resident] wears a particular device we give them, everybody who's entitled to know -- whether it's a carer, allied health practitioner, doctor, even loved ones -- will know at any given time how their loved one is doing," Lymbers said.

"As part of the CRM, we're providing interested parties or loved ones or staff in the facilities the ability to go into a portal to see what their loved one is doing, as long as they have permission of course. They know that mum's in her room so I should call her, or she just had a chicken dinner, or she's in hydrotherapy, so I'll talk to her later."

Nurses and other aged care workers will be able to respond to residents not just in person, but also via voice or video.

"If they're carrying a handheld device, it'll bring up all the necessary information about the resident onto a screen as they call the resident ... the reason we're getting that is because staff change all the time, they don't always know the person's specific needs," Lymbers said.

"[The nurses] will always know who the resident is, doesn't matter if they're new. If you're taking somebody else's shift, you'll still know what the resident wants or needs."

Thomas Holt is also implementing an internet-connected circadian lighting system in the new facility that's aligned with the natural dawn to dusk cycle of the solar day.

"Each light talks to the next light fitting wirelessly. Depending on the resident, it actually manages the particular lighting scenario for that person," Lymbers said.

The use of predictive analytics -- combining both internal and external datasets -- to identify when residents are most likely to need urgent care is also being explored by the company.

Lymbers said because of all the biometric information the sensors in the rooms, toilets, and wearable devices are capturing, the system will know ahead of time that there's a possibility of an event.

A message will be sent from the system to Livecare 360° and it will go to the nearest carer who can respond to the resident's requirements. The system will also know when the nearby nurse has walked into the resident's room as all the aged care workers in the facility will be carrying mobile devices.

"We gather information about [the resident's] well-being at the time, and as we measure that over time, based on other statistical and medical information available out there, we can action that. For example, through urine samples we can work out whether a patient has a UTI [urinary tract infection], which could potentially lead to a fall event," Lymbers said.

"There are a lot of organisations out there like universities that are working with large technology companies to come up with medical data to help predict potential falls and heart attacks depending on your current biometric or genetic condition."

What's more, Lymbers said the machine learning-powered system will be able to preempt simple things like that at 4 o'clock every afternoon, one of the residents will want a cup of tea.

"Instead of them pushing a nurse call button, [the system] will know a request will come through and will ask the resident if they want a cup of tea. They can press 'yes I do' on the tablet or even speak 'yes I want a cup of tea' and it will go through the Menulog system or catering system or auto-direct to staff," Lymbers said.

All these technologies are currently being tested by Thomas Holt, with the new facility slated to open in October this year.

"Our CEO says if we can do something different that the other aged care providers can learn from, it's worthwhile doing. But it's also about trying to get all the other suppliers to go and do it," Lymbers said.

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