“We’re a nursing home company that doesn’t like nursing homes,” says Lou Grimmel, CEO of Lorien Health Systems. A pretty powerful statement for a CEO of one Maryland’s top healthcare systems comprised of nine nursing homes, five assisted living homes and a rehab facility. With a sterling reputation and nearly 40 years in business, Grimmel knows that in order to care for an aging population and maintain growth and vision for Lorien, he has to make the nursing home and assisted living experience different—more personal, more like home.
This feature appeared in the March 2017 issue of ON Magazine. To read more articles like this, click here.
To achieve this, he introduced several new initiatives in order to keep family members in the loop and improve care. One such improvement is TeleHealth, the newest service from Lorien that works using motion sensors. The sensors track pertinent information about the patient and take into account their daily activities to proactively alert a staff member when something may be awry. “The future of caring for the fast aging population really hinges on technology and using the right equipment to be able to support technology,” says Grimmel. But in order to achieve new levels of individualization and care like TeleHealth, he knew he had to upgrade their aging out IT infrastructure and software.
Identifying the Problem
Before the IT upgrade, staffers used to lament the fact that the infrastructure was plagued by slow or no access to digital records, dropped signals and poor equipment synching—all necessities to maintain a high standard of care and comply with government mandates like the move to electronic health records (EHR). What’s more, wireless reception was poor, nurses were bumped off systems and interference from third parties hindered progress and adequate care of the facilities most important assets—its residents. Grappling with a small IT team to support 11 sites, the team turned to one of their vendors for help.
Diagnosing the Issue
Aruba HPE, a trusted partner of Lorien Health Systems, became aware of the company’s poor vendor communication and shoddy on-hand support and quickly introduced the company’s executive team to Carousel last January.
“During a purchase with Aruba, that team sent Carousel out and that’s when our renaissance began. They looked at our system and told us the good, the bad and the very bad,” Grimmel
says, with a chuckle.
“We did our best to build what we thought was needed,” he explains, commenting on the previous IT environment. “But we didn’t know what we didn’t know.” And what they didn’t know was that their current environment wouldn’t allow them to take their business to the next level.
After evaluating Lorien Health Systems’ current IT environment using heat maps and extensive engineering investigations, the Carousel team uncovered detrimental data switches, improper wireless infrastructure and poor security. Grimmel and the IT team were introduced to key vendors, including Juniper, Aruba HPE and Comcast, to assist with upgrading technology. In total, Lorien Health Systems updated, upgraded and installed a vast variety of technology, including:
“Whatever industry you’re in, your partners are a key element to a company’s success,” says Grimmel. Commenting on the project, he adds: “We can’t be in our business and achieve our business goals without having the highway to get us there. We are fortunate to partner with Carousel, because that’s what they do for us.”
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Improving Positive Outcomes
With all systems live and a focus on innovative technology like TeleHealth, Lorien Health Systems quickly reaped the benefits to accelerate their growth. Among the advantages they enjoy are:
Happy with the outcome, Grimmel says, “Everyone in any of our locations is someone’s mom, dad, sister, brother. This technology has given us a new dimension in healthcare that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. It’s totally transparent and we have a better possibility of good, positive outcomes. After all, isn’t that the point of healthcare?”