Elkhorn, NE: Adaptive Technology and Active Engagement Result in Reduction of Psychotropic Medications!

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Vetter Health Services is proud to have excellent Quality Partners, dedicated to improving products and services for older adults. It’s Never 2 Late (in2L), a Colorado based organization, and one of our Quality Partners is proud to announce preliminary results of a year-long study on effective alternatives to prescription drugs for older adults living with dementia.

Vetter Health Services believes in the power of adaptive technology. All of our communities have at least one It’s Never 2 Late System available for resident engagement. The in2L touch screen computer system has a variety of content that includes sensory, reminiscence, brain fitness, physical fitness, and music specifically designed to engage seniors with very little prior experience with technology.

Our team members have seen firsthand the power of technology in brightening someone’s mood, engaging someone with advancing dementia in meaningful activity, and connecting families separated by distance to each other through SKYPE. Story after story validates the importance of technology in connecting residents to friends, family, and the community.

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The following is the full press release on this important research study…

Adaptive Computer Program Lowers Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Seniors

Study by It’s Never 2 Late and Western Home Communities Provides Evidence for Effectiveness of Non-pharmaceutical Intervention.

Centennial, Colo. — It’s Never 2 Late® (iN2L), a pioneer of adaptive computer systems designed for residents in senior living communities, and Western Home Communities, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community based in Iowa, today announced the preliminary results of a year-long study on effective alternatives to prescription drugs for older adults living with dementia.

The research project was designed to determine whether the use of personalized technology for seniors living with dementia can reduce the need to administer as-needed (PRN) psychotropic drugs. The full case study and findings were released today by the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST). CAST is a network of technology companies, providers and researchers focused on technology solutions for an aging society.

Key findings
• 50% fewer residents require PRN antipsychotic medication when redirected toward person-centered engagement technology.
• 20-50% reduction in the total number of doses given to all residents with PRN psychotic medications.

“These preliminary results are impressive and important, particularly now that the reduction of psychotropic medications use is factored in CMS’ five star quality ratings” said Majd Alwan, Ph.D., senior vice president of technology at LeadingAge and executive director of LeadingAge CAST. “We need more providers to have a continuous quality improvement framework and would like to see more of them engage in such quantitative evaluations.”

The study was performed at Martin Health Center, a skilled nursing facility in Cedar Falls, Iowa where 11 of the 48 residents have a dementia diagnosis and receive PRN antipsychotics to treat behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). These symptoms include physical and verbal aggression, emotional turmoil, confusion and agitation.
Although psychotropic drugs are effective in calming dementia patients during times of increased stress, they can have profound side effects including gait and balance disturbance, falls, decreased levels of cognition, and diminished functioning. In addition, antipsychotic drugs are expensive; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that they cost more than $13 billion annually—nearly 5% of all U.S. drug expenditures.  To address these issues, Western Home Communities implemented iN2L computer systems for Martin Health Center residents as a non-pharmaceutical intervention for residents experiencing BPSD. When episodes occurred, residents were redirected toward a game, favorite TV show, calming sounds and music, or spiritual content, depending on each person’s unique needs, interests or skills.

While the project’s overarching goal was to improve care and quality of life for all residents, the primary objective was to determine whether technology-driven activities could reduce the need for medication among residents living with dementia. A successful reduction translates to fewer negative side effects as well as savings to Medicare and beneficiaries.

“Our mission is to help residents achieve the best quality of life using engaging, personalized technology,” said Jack York, CEO of iN2L. “Residents stay engaged with the world when they have access to communication applications such as email, Skype, interactive music, games, art and an assortment of entertainment content.” York shared the story of a gentleman who spent his days in bed leaving it only for meals. Knowing he was a former pilot, the household coordinators showed him how to use iN2L’s flight simulator. The last four months of his life were spent in the common areas and his family was thrilled to see him out of his bed. “It’s great to see how this tool engages the staff who are closest to the residents,” said Josh Hansen, technology director of Western Home Communities. “They create customized content based on what each resident likes. When someone is having a tough time, the caregiver can redirect the resident instead of relying on medication.”

The research project was funded through the Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME) 2013 Civil Money Penalty Quality Improvement Initiative Grant (CMPQII).

About the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies –
The LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) is focused on accelerating the development, evaluation and adoption of emerging technologies that will transform the aging experience. As an international coalition of more than 400 technology companies, aging-services organizations, businesses, research universities and government representatives, CAST works under the auspices of LeadingAge, an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging.

About iN2L –
Founded in 1999, iN2L is dedicated to making technology and the Internet accessible and enjoyable for older adults — regardless of physical or cognitive limitations. A proprietary combination of adaptive hardware, software and content delivers a person-centered experience that engages, empowers and inspires. The engagement tools developed for older adults are currently used in 1,500+ communities across all 50 states, Canada, Australia and Northern Ireland. The company is located in Centennial, CO. For more information, visit www.iN2L.com.