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Is drone technology right for your facility?

Posted by Earl Laing | Thursday, May 05, 2016

The past year has been revolutionary for the health care industry as it's starting to ramp up on modernizing technology in assisted living facilities.

A quick recap of 2015:

Senior livings operations technology was centered around in-home advancements that monitored residents and collected big data analytics. Remote patient monitoring included sensors that could monitor resident behaviors and movements as well as their activity - or inactivity for that matter - around the house. On the same front, GPS tracking technologies were also popular, especially when it came to locating wandering residents with memory loss. The industry even saw an increase in wearable technology as well as mobile applications that were used to better facilitate and monitor communications and automate reminders for medications or appointments. 

These devices help in collecting the big data analytics that make running an assisted living community more efficient. Big data is certainly still considered one of the newer trends in the industry as assisted living facilities are still learning how to harness the analytics to their full potential. Right now, building managers and staff of assisted living communities are using this data to identify inefficiencies in their daily processes for both the way they care for the residents and for building maintenance. 

While these trends will continue to grow and be perfected in the years to come, 2016 will aim to introduce a new player to the mix: the drone. 

What can drones be used for?

Drones are being used across multiple industries. They've been seen in everything from search and rescue operations, to film-making and even to delivery services. So how do they fit in with assisted living? Robots have been in the game for a long time now. When you think about all the technology that helps with chores around facilities like robotic vacuums and floor scrubbers you have to admit that drones have the ability to take maintenance to the next level. 

This might seem like a far out technology for the assisted living communities, however it has the potential to improve the findings for big data analytics, as well as improve daily activities of building managers. Right now, experts are seeing that facilities can use drone technology for things like surveillance, getting an eye on areas of their building that are hard to access and gather images to collect this information for better operations, reported 

That being said, drones will help make light of exterior inspection work, giving building managers the ability to check over gutters, paint or roofs without having to get on ladders. This can allow them to do thorough routine checks more frequently for better prevention of building damage. While this is important all year long, it will also be a major help in gathering assessments of damages after any serious storms, or during winter months when weather takes its hardest toll on buildings. 

The surveillance aspect of drones can be incredibly useful for safety purposes of residents. First of all, they can be used in general for monitoring the perimeter of the building for any odd breaches or intruders. But drones will revolutionize how staff are able to monitor residents as well. Imagine losing a senior. A drone combined with the wanderer's GPS locater will allow staff to get eyes on the resident before an actual person can reach them. It also maximizes the type of response that's dispatched. Does a staff member simply need to run out and find them, or will they need to bring medical assistance?