Technology for Quality of Life

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Wireless connectivity promotes patient and resident-centric health care as well as improvements in regulation compliance, marketing, and fundraising.

With five retirement communities in the Columbia, South Carolina, area, Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina (PCSC) serves approximately 800 residents. Each resident has multiple visitors–chaplains, doctors, and family members. And Mark Cary, director of IT at PCSC, knew that wireless could enhance each one of those visits.

That was one impetus for PCSC’s wireless journey, but there were many more. “Right away, we knew we could improve basic things like Internet access for residents within the facility and the efficiency of bedside information gathering,” says Cary. “But with this solid foundation in place, we could comply with government mandates for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) more easily and contemplate new opportunities in diagnostics, patient monitoring, marketing, and fundraising as well.”

The Need to Grow
As a not-for-profit organization, PCSC runs a lean IT department. For Cary, any IT initiative follows the same formula—purchase smartly, turn it on, configure it, let it go, and move on to the next task. In terms of wireless, Cary was adamant about having a best-in-class solution to accommodate the evolution of patient- and resident-centric health care.

Cary evaluated several options and chose Cisco technology implemented by its partner Insight. The Insight team took the time to understand Cary’s IT philosophy and PCSC’s current and anticipated needs. The Cisco and Insight teams worked closely with him to develop and deploy a solution that could be turned on, configured, and run with simple monitoring.

“We chose two extremely talented and proven companies. We now have the capabilities to do things that we don’t even know we can do yet. Being a lean organization, we have to make smart choices every time, and we’ve done that with our Cisco/Insight wireless solution,” says Cary.

Benefits of Connecting
So far, efficiency has been the greatest gain. By opening up the guest network, doctors and therapists are collecting more information at bedside more efficiently. In addition, visiting family members can connect for both entertainment and information. Cary recounts the experience of a Medicare resident’s daughter. She was so grateful that she was able to sit with her mother, get on the network, and make necessary family travel plans for Christmas right in that instant.

From a marketing perspective, promoting robust wireless connectivity as a feature of community living is a huge advantage. And the Foundation and Church Relations Department also capitalize on PCSC’s wireless investment, positioning the organization to donors as ahead of the technology curve.

Looking Toward the Future
With the wireless foundation, Cary can make more intelligent decisions about network-based capabilities. Existing functionality including diagnostic utilities and the Alzheimer/dementia unit’s mobile brain stimulus programs are either under consideration or now connected. Future solutions include tag-based equipment monitoring and biometric patient monitoring.

“I often look at IT through the lens of three levels of knowledge,” says Cary. “I know that I have a reliable, scalable wireless foundation from two proven partners. I don’t yet know the potential of certain solutions like biometrics because we haven’t implemented them yet. But I’m most excited about the third level of knowledge—not knowing what I don’t know. We are in the midst of the journey. There are so many opportunities on the horizon in terms of leveraging this investment to improve how our residents receive care and live full lives in our communities.”

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