Remote Monitoring: VOA Pilot Improves Quality and Efficiency at Reduced Costs

by Published On: Mar 26, 2012
Volunteers of America

This is the fourth in a series of case studies from the Preparing for the Future Report.

Volunteers of America's remote monitoring pilot improved quality of life, increased staff efficiencies and decreased care costs. Click here to view the full case study, or continue reading the summary below. 

The Organization: The 115-year-old Volunteers of America (VOA) is a major provider of professional longterm nursing care for seniors and others coping with illness or injury. 

The organization’s 25 facilities offer a continuum of services for older people and people with disabilities that includes skilled nursing, assisted living, home health, rehabilitation and memory care. VOA manages seven senior housing communities in three states and sponsors an Aging with Options initiative that helps older people maintain independence and self-sufficiency while living at home.

Technology: Volunteers of America began exploring technology-enabled services in 2004 when researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) approached the organization seeking feedback on the design of a remote monitoring system that they were developing. 

Using funds from an outside investor, the UVA researchers implemented two pilot studies to test their monitoring system at facilities managed by VOA in Minnesota and the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society in South Dakota. 

Pleased with the results of those pilots, both VOA and the Good Samaritan Society decided to invest in what has become known as WellAWARE. Each organization now owns 25 percent of the company.

Outcomes: Within the first week of a 90-day pilot for WellAWARE, nurses at the VOA test site reported that they were successfully using the remote monitoring system to identify urinary tract infections before they caused serious illness or triggered a medical crisis. 

Follow-up studies showed a significant reduction in health care use by residents monitored by WellAWARE. VOA also has anecdotal evidence that remote monitoring has helped care staff reduce by 40 percent the number of telephone calls they make to doctors’ offices.

Business Case: Remote monitoring with WellAWARE is becoming the new standard of care at Volunteers of America. The organization is implementing the technology throughout its Senior Care Division. 

In 2011, VOA began deploying WellAWARE in skilled care settings and expects that the technology will be fully deployed in all of its 14 nursing homes by the end of 2012.

Volunteers of America raised the rent for assisted living apartments by $70 per month to cover the cost of the WellAWARE units. The rent increase did not yield a profit for the organization. 

Instead, VOA ties its return on investment to the fact that monitored residents have been able to remain in assisted living for longer because early intervention kept them from developing more serious health conditions that might have prompted a move for them and a vacancy for the organization.

You can view the full case study for Volunteers of America, which will be featured in the CAST Symposium at our PEAK Conference on April 22, 2012.

You can also view all 18 case studies from the Preparing for the Future report.


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