John Bassounas

In this post, I’d like to bring awareness to some of the safety issues facing senior living communities. Specifically, I’d like to focus in on the number one cause of accidental death in seniors: falls.

The statistics about falls in aging services are shocking. The costs of falls in senior care are expected to reach $65 billion annually. And falls aren’t only costly, but extremely impactful on the overall health of the aging population. Retirement communities and home care providers are constantly looking for ways to evaluate mitigation strategies and drive better outcomes by reducing falls and proactively preventing them all together. The power to solve this problem lies in the data.

One of the most proactive measures you can take against falls is gathering your first-party data and analyzing it. First-party data, or data that the community or organization owns, is often overlooked, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool. In many instances, it’s mandated by the government or other organizations, so why not use it and put it to work? The way the organization has behaved regarding falls or other issues provides valuable information for future behavior and insights.

WildFig, Varsity’s data analytics partner, has worked with communities to understand their first party fall data and take action using that information. The WildFig team has tackled problems such as falls across the entire analytics continuum through a custom lens. Most notably, the team has developed:

  • Custom dashboards to visualize data around falls
  • Intervention reporting and tracking
  • Root cause analysis around previous fall behaviors and outcomes
  • Predictive models around falls to support population health management
  • A consulting and data-driven framework for healthcare providers to apply to their ongoing workflows around causal impact, benchmarking and intervention strategies

Data is so important to fall prevention because it provides valuable insights into former behavior which can be utilized to inform future outcomes, potential mitigations and strategies focused on proactivity versus being reactive. Oftentimes fall prevention strategies are looking backward versus forward. Our work is aimed at giving communities tools to be ahead of the event versus behind it, whenever possible.

One senior living provider that has been in the early stages of using data for fall analysis and prevention is Meth-Wick Community in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Meth-Wick CEO Robin Mixdorf is a trailblazer, thought leader and big thinker who realized that Meth-Wick had been collecting valuable falls data for several years, but needed it organized into an easy-to-use, simple-to-visualize system. She wanted to find a way to use that data to its best advantage so that the community could plan interventions to help reduce the impact of falls. That’s when she turned to WildFig. The collaboration between the two organizations has achieved exciting outcomes and helped Meth-Wick Community utilize data to impact areas in which changes needed to be made, such as making sure there was the right level of staffing at certain times and places, ensuring that the right floor coverings were in place, and offering balance classes to residents who were at risk for falls.

But what if your organization hasn’t been using your data, or using it to its best ability? First, know that you’re not alone. A recent survey from Black Book Market Research shows that only 3 percent of long-term care communities have the ability for data assessment.

Lack of data-specific staff, lack of in-house resources, other priorities and a variety of other factors impact the use and implementation of data in all organizations, not just communities.  But getting started with using data is well worth the effort. At WildFig, we see data as having many benefits:

  • Makes the experience in a community more personalized
  • Reduces friction
  • Enhances the overall health and wellness of resident
  • Provides opportunities for workforce development as employees gain new skills and expertise
  • Improves communication with family members

If you haven’t been analyzing data up to this point, how should you get started? The best way to begin is with a question. Oftentimes, because of the broader meme of big data, decision makers think through a more complicated lens when it comes to analytics. In its purest form, analytics is about answering questions and providing insights. The questions themselves can range from simple to complex. Falls is only one example: any question a community has can be informed by data.

 

About WildFig

WildFig was founded to help organizations in senior living and other sectors meet increasing demands for efficiency in a complicated marketplace. Our team saw an unmet need for analytics across all industries and we love the challenge and value we can provide. We help our clients navigate the data-driven landscape through mathematical, statistical and computational tools ranging from data mining to forecast modeling.

To learn more about the work WildFig is doing to solve problems for our clients, visit us at wildfigdata.com. If you’d like to discuss how you can harness your data to overcome your organization’s biggest challenges, email us to arrange a consultation.