Good morning, ProviderNation. It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for the fine folks over at It’s Never 2 Late. Just last week, they announced that they had entered their 2,000th care center. But, perhaps even bigger, they’ve had some scientist types take a look at their work. They have been weighed in the balances, and not been found wanting.
Researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Virginia Wesleyan College found that 40 percent of residents in a Virginia Beach, Va., nursing care center who were outfitted with It’s Never 2 Late swag saw “a clinically significant reduction of antipsychotic drug doses,” while 86 percent of the test group saw at least a little reduction in their antipsychotic doses. The numbers get even better:
- Staff and family reported a 54 percent reduction in behavioral outbursts;
- Thirty percent of the test group stopped acting out altogether, and the intensity of other outbursts declined significantly, too;
- Evidence of depression fell by 41 percent; and
- Perhaps even most striking, staff’s stress indicators fell by nearly half, the study found.
‘Preach This Gospel’
Lead researcher Scott Sautter, an associate professor at Eastern Virginia, called the findings “very exciting and important.” He and his colleagues are preparing their report for a peer-reviewed journal near you.
But the good people at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay aren’t waiting another second to share the good news.
“I’m going to preach this gospel all around the country,” Westminster-Canterbury President and CEO J. Benjamin Unkle Jr. tells Your Humble Correspondent. “We’re not trying to sell a product; we’re trying to sell an intervention that works. The message is, engagement through computer technology is affordable and has dramatic impact.”
Now, it is notorious that technology isn’t a replacement for human care, but what Unkle and others find so encouraging about their findings is that technology, used as a supplement for the human at the center of care, can work miracles.
Westimster-Canterbury volunteered its Hoy Nursing Care Center on its campus as the site of the experiment because Unkle was convinced that what some knucklehead or the other calls the elder care #AppGap is leaving money—and more important, care—on the table.
“Once the staff finds out the power of technology to make their lives easier, you’re going to do it with existing staffing models,” Unkle says.
Like many, Unkle sees the day coming (quickly) where relatives or friends of residents won’t just ask about gyms, or pools, or televisions, but about its hard-core, individualized technologies.
‘Going to Explode’
“There’s going to be a huge market for this,” Unkle says. “It’s just going to explode. Figuring out an app that is hardware agnostic and that can be customized to that person’s functional level… Some entrepreneur is missing an opportunity to make this better.”
It’s Never founder Jack York (who, as you know, is Your Humble Correspondent’s Personal Tech God), reacted to the news from Virginia Beach with a hearty aw-shucks.
“It’s been fascinating to be along for the ride,” he says of the experiments. “But it’s not about iN2L, it’s about a forward-thinking organization refusing to be satisfied with the status quo when it comes to delivering care.”
As revolutionary as the InterWeb is, though, it can be hard for anyone to figure out how to use it properly. Services like It’s Never help folks “tame content,” Unkle says.
Seeing the results of the Eastern Virginia study, Unkle says he immediately ordered his staff to take an additional 18 computers “out of mothballs.” Since then, his care center hasn’t had a single request, for even a single moment, of extra staff time.
Unkle and his new friends aren’t done yet, either. The money donated to support the latest study—$228,000 from Westminster-Canterbury Foundation board member Sue Birdsong—will help support two other studies on the interaction between personalized technology and cognitive growth, Unkle says.
“The results were so compelling,” he says of the most recent effort, “that we felt that we needed to release the data that we had and start promoting this. It had too great an impact.”