In my first two posts about the recent Senior Housing News senior living summit, I discussed the industry’s take on ACOs and security as well as how operators are evaluating technology vendors and vetting technology.

In this third and final post, I’m focusing on the panel’s conversation about how technology is affecting business operations as well as staff recruitment and retention.

Operations: Where is technology making an impact?

Many of the senior living operators commented that for the most part, technology for the back office and within business operations is strong. It continues to evolve and because it’s not as industry-specific and doesn’t require modification for senior care. The area where the real challenges still exist is in clinical operations and what’s being used in the actual community. This is where technology needs to be retrofitted: engaging residents, monitoring systems, maximizing the utility spend and creating a more robust environment. All operators agreed that there are a lot of different types of technology available that can benefit a community and would enhance operations.

At the same time, providers are trying to leverage technology to address clinical operation needs. They must also satisfy residents’ and their families’ technology demands. As residents and their families become more tech-savvy, their expectations for a technology-outfitted senior care community grow. One operator commented on wearables for tracking personal health, and said he believes they will make their way into families’ expectations of how their parents’ health is tracked. Also mentioned were sensors or video cameras in parents’ units. Another commented that a real evolution will continue to happen with resident-facing technology, saying of residents, “Wireless is a given. They expect to have iPads. This means we need to stay ahead of what they will expect.”

The larger point made by the panel was that the biggest impact of technology adoption can be felt within the community. Panelists agreed that introducing effective technology through stronger interoperability is where the savings will happen. They also concurred that strengthening care coordination and keeping residents in the least restricted environment for as long as possible are where more positive patient outcomes will happen.

We’re right in the place between technology being a nicety and a requirement in the industry, but the expectation is changing to where technology will become a necessity because HR can’t be stretched far enough without it. The real question then becomes, when do you pull the trigger? At what point do you know you’re going to receive ROI from the technology you’re introducing? One way may be through new revenue opportunities like tiered charges for Wi-Fi access and higher bandwidth.

Staff: Does technology help with recruitment and retention?

This topic, more than anything, is an area of evolution. As communities try to keep up with things like EMRs, they find that technology both helps and hurts with hiring and retaining staff. As you move staff away from paper-based processes to iPads, some aren’t comfortable. But on the other hand, people coming out of school expect communities to be using EMRs. One operator added that where staff may have used paper in the past, it’s important to implement technology in the right way by taking into account staff members’ range in the learning curve and helping them to effectively adopt the technology into their workflow.

In terms of retention, technology has played a significant role. Operators mentioned using a platform to manage staff training as well as regular, additional training through webinars and video sessions to enhance their experience. Technology today can be used as a platform for training that will only continue to grow.

As senior living providers are faced with new challenges and changing demands, they are turning to technology more and more to power their communities. New technology has implications for every part of the community, including operationally and for staff. While challenging to implement, the benefits are numerous, both in keeping residents connected and happy and in improving care and staff workflow.

How has new technology impacted your staff and operations? Tell us on Twitter @CDW_Healthcare or on our LinkedIn Showcase Page. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

To learn more about technology solutions that can help your staff and improve your community operations, check out our Senior Care Capabilities Brochure.

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