LeadingAge20: Thermal Cameras Bring Added Protection to Senior Care

The technology isn't foolproof, but it is helping communities identify--and keep out--some visitors who may be infected with COVID-19.
Published in HealthTech Magazine; written by Kevin Joy on
For senior care communities, the main conduit for COVID-19 is deceptively simple: a building’s front door.

“We know the primary way the virus gets into a nursing home or an assisted living community is from staff — and it’s often those who work in more than one community or those who are going home to their families and unwittingly becoming infected,” Katie Smith Sloan, president of LeadingAge, recently told HealthTech.

This is why more providers have deployed thermal camera technology in the past few months. The subject was highlighted in several sessions this week at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting Virtual Experience, which will continue online Nov. 17-19.

By quickly screening an incoming employee or visitor for elevated body temperature — a common but not definitive symptom of COVID-19 — staff can deny that person entry to help prevent unintentional spread of the disease.

Infrared technology often calibrates against a “black body” accessory to indicate the difference between a subject’s temperature and the black body’s predetermined temperature. Some setups use multiple pieces of equipment; others are all-in-one touchless kiosks that print a wearable sticker after a reading is taken to confirm an individual is approved to enter.

Although the pandemic has prompted more providers to discover and deploy these tools, they can serve a broader long-term purpose during periods such as flu season.

“This is not a COVID-19 strategy; this is an infection control strategy,” Jim Dellapa, CIO of the Piscataway, N.J.-based aging services organization Parker Life, told LeadingAge audiences Wednesday.