Seniors housing trends lean on technology

Electronic health records, data, employee engagement and wider array of services move the bottom line for operators.

By Travis Palmquist

Vice President & General Manager, Senior Living, PointClickCare

In early April, I had the pleasure of participating in an industry event alongside several prominent senior living thought leaders from across the country. The event focused on the trends and challenges impacting the industry today.

There was a lot of great discussion about ways operators can address the changes affecting the senior living market in order to improve and maintain business operations. It was clear that there are a few key trends that are more prominent than others.

Data is king

Data is becoming increasingly important for operators to be able to make smarter business decisions. The use of an electronic health record (EHR) platform, for example, allows organizations to collect and track data. This includes everything from resident assessments to preferred services to medication management.

Operators can consolidate and analyze data to identify resident care trends, and share among other care providers, staff, residents and even family members. Using data as a proof point to showcase the quality of care a community provides not only attracts new care partners, but helps differentiate a community from competitors.

Operational efficiency is another important aspect of managing a senior living community. Capturing data on the daily routines and practices of staff members can identify any inefficiencies or inconsistencies.

For organizations that have multiple building locations, tracking the operational outputs can provide an insightful snapshot of each location without ever setting foot in the building. In addition, capturing and bringing more visibility to quality outcomes, staff engagement, and resident and family satisfaction will enable the senior living operators to positively impact the direction of regulatory oversight.

More choices for the resident

Participants at the event discussed forward-looking trends, such as moving from a hospitality model to more of a medical model. However, it was unanimous across the panel that one model is not more effective than the other. Rather, it is important to have a strong mix of both.

There is a convergence taking place where those who are traditionally focused on the real estate side of the business are maturing the way they deliver services and care. Meanwhile, those that come from more of a healthcare background are looking for ways to leverage hospitality best practices to differentiate themselves from competitors. More specifically, extra service offerings, or ancillary services, are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to attracting and retaining residents.

More senior living operators are offering services like massage therapy, salons, dentistry or extra housekeeping to help entice prospective residents.

The reality is, residents today are looking to receive all of their services from the comfort of home. So, by offering these type of ancillary services, operators can keep their residents happy, healthy and living in their communities longer. This helps with occupancy and benefits the bottom line.

Investment in technology

Technology can help to support a number of benefits: better and more efficient care, improved staff engagement, and enhanced resident and family experiences.

More and more we are seeing operators invest in technology to not only better manage the health of their business, but also the health of their residents.

Senior living communities are quickly outgrowing the use of manual and paper-based workflows as the complexity of caring for residents and managing their expectations continue to increase. Whether it’s a family portal to connect residents with their loved ones, or an EHR to help staff teams better track and document services or medication, technology goes a long way for senior living operators.

Improved employee engagement

Traditionally, senior living operators have focused on the satisfaction of their residents, rather than employees. However, as staff turnover becomes more of a challenge for senior living organizations, we’re beginning to see operators focus more on how to keep their staff happy.

Employee engagement and staff satisfaction are key to ensuring residents remain happy and want to stay in a community longer. If operators take care of their staff — their “internal customers,” if you will — that staff will take care of their residents.

As the senior living industry continues to evolve, operators need to think about the trends and challenges impacting their business. The right technology solutions enable operators to future-proof their community by obtaining the right insights at the right time. This helps to drive better business decisions, manage staff and improve resident satisfaction and outcomes.

Senior living operators that plan for current and future needs are well positioned to be the provider of choice for seniors.

 

Travis Palmquist is the vice president and general manager for the Senior Living division at PointClickCare, a cloud-based operational software serving the seniors housing and healthcare industries.

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