A ResCare client interacts with a caregiver. Screenshot from a ResCare video

On the 11th floor of an office building that overlooks a residential area in eastern Louisville, a high-tech apartment model features powerful cameras, a Bluetooth scale and sensors to measure temperature and carbon monoxide levels.

The setup showcases the future of homes for people with developmental disabilities and differentiates the Louisville-based company from any of its competitors.

“Nobody else is doing this,” said Chuck Fitch, the company’s chief information officer.

ResCare, a $2 billion privately held health and human services provider, is spending millions of dollars to equip thousands of such homes across the country with state-of-the-art monitoring technology, to gather data in a cloud-based portal and to analyze that data to improve the health outcomes and independence of its clients.

Large monitors in the homes enable clients to see the faces of and interact with caregivers or loved ones at any time. Cameras at the front door allow loved ones or caregivers — even if they’re hundreds of miles away — to check whether surprise visitors should be allowed into the home. The tech even allows for the remote locking of the front door.

Chuck Fitch, ResCare’s chief information officer, explains how the company’s data collection and analysis can help its clients. | Photo by Boris Ladwig

And offsite, caregivers also can activate a shaking mechanism in a client’s bed to alert them of any danger. That could help a client who cannot hear a fire alarm, for example.

The 11th-floor model apartment has an attached room with computers and monitors that display spreadsheets, graphs and the camera feeds from the apartment. That room exemplifies ResCare’s data collection and analysis operation, which takes place far away from the actual living quarters.

Data collection eventually will allow ResCare to pull up information on geographic regions and individual homes, ranging from quality assessments to inspection reports, how often clients meet their daily goals, whether they adhere to their drug regimen or even how many clients take a certain drug, Fitch said. The system even will flag situations in which different doctors prescribe drugs that should not be taken together.

Acquiring that kind of insight previously would have required flipping through dozens of paper charts — in different locations. Once the new system is fully implemented, the information can be accessed from anywhere with only a couple of mouse clicks.

“It’s a big departure from how we manage the business now,” Fitch said.

ResCare is making the investments in part to comply with pending government requirements, but also to cut costs, to attract and retain employees, to differentiate itself from competitors and to gain more business. Across the country, the company operates about 2,200 homes with small groups of people with developmental disabilities.

CEO Jon Rousseau told Insider recently that ResCare expects its new data collection and analysis efforts — made possible through a recently announced partnership with Rochester, N.Y.-based software company MediSked — to improve clients’ lives through better health and safety and greater independence.

Rachael Kurzer-Givens

Rachael Kurzer-Givens, ResCare’s chief clinical officer, told Insider that collecting data, both for individuals and for groups of people with similar challenges, will give caregivers a better idea of what kinds of approaches work best for which clients.

ResCare’s work is difficult, she said, in part because clients have vastly different preferences, challenges and goals that can range from the complex, such as wanting to learn how to apply for a job, to the every day, such as preparing a meal, to the simple, such as turning their head. Some clients function quite well by themselves, she said, while other adults need constant supervision.

Being able to electronically collect and analyze data for thousands of clients will enable ResCare to determine how individual clients and groups of clients with similar challenges can achieve their greatest level of independence, she said.

MediSked essentially functions as ResCare’s one-stop repository that documents the care that is being provided and whether the clients meet the goals that their caregivers have set.

Douglas Golub, president of MediSked, told Insider that MediSked’s platform will enable caregivers, family members and physicians to easily access critical information. For example, when a caregiver arrives at a residence, she generally does not know and cannot easily learn what has happened on the prior shift. With ResCare’s connected home, however, she can check quickly whether anything noteworthy has happened, from whether the client suffered a fall (there’s an electronic device that monitors and records falls), whether he has taken medication and whether he has met his activity goals.

As ResCare analyzes the information over certain periods, it can tell which clients are progressing and which ones are not, and why. The data will allow the company to adopt best practices for individual clients or even groups of people with similar disabilities so that they — and their loved ones — can be sure that the care plans achieve the desired results.

Making sure that clients get the proper care and support is critical, Golub said, especially because the bulk of the clients receive care that is paid by Medicaid. ResCare soon will have the data to make adjustments to its care plans to improve results — and to show the payor, the federal government, how its care plans are affecting the clients and reducing care and medical costs long-term.

ResCare’s connected home model also saves costs for the company, Fitch said, because, with the same resources, it can monitor five clients instead of one. And the connected home’s sensors detect problems that even a human caregiver would miss, such as high carbon monoxide levels.

ResCare will roll out its “connected home” strategy this summer and expects full implementation in all 26 states in which it serves people with developmental disabilities by the end of 2018.

Rousseau, the CEO, did not want to provide exact details on how much the effort is costing, but he told Insider that it is requiring a “multimillion-dollar investment.”

Fitch said that the investments in hardware and software will differentiate ResCare’s capabilities from competitors’ — and it also will make it difficult for new players to come onto the market without significant capital investments.