Being a leader of care technology in the senior housing industry means we get asked a lot of questions. How does one add technology to improve care? Is upgraded technology worth the expense? Today, it's possible for senior care providers to implement all types of technology if they have the time, money, and effort to invest.
To help decide if a technology will be worth the investment, ask yourself three questions. First, is it just another system that is going to be added on top of your daily operations? Secondly, what is the cost to benefit ratio? Finally, what part of the business is this helping - is it the operations side of the business or the lifestyle side?
Is It Just Another System?
If you answered the first question that it is 'just another system to add to the systems already in place.' What does it solve in your community? Whether it is an emergency call system, wander management, access control, cameras, or another solution - how many of these can you add until it becomes a blur? At a certain point, it becomes technology fatigue, and users do not know what system does what, where to get information, and how to reset this device versus that instrument. At Silversphere, our consultants will help you determine technology that is right for you and your community. Our goal is to provide senior care technology that improves the quality of care your offer and decreases your frustration with current technology.
The Adoption Process
Good technology is disruptive and should make you change the way you do things - the challenge is what are you, as a leader, going to require of your teams to ensure it is adopted? Ask yourself what your role in the adoption process is? How many other things are you asking them to adopt at the same time? Right now, we see a lot of people attempting to solve a single problem with a single platform. Depending on the issue, that may be an unrealistic perspective. We all know that technology does not solve the biggest issues that today's operators face but, of course can drastically help.
It is important that you develop an adoption plan with the vendor of choice. For this implementation to be successful, you have to believe in the system and the process. We do not recommend relying solely on the vendor training your staff with the attitude that adoption will miraculously happen and the technology be used just the way you and the salesperson discussed.
How To Be Successful
You must have KPIs in a place where you can measure the usefulness and adoption rate of the technology on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We also suggest that at least 50% of the KPIs are lead indicators, not lag. If you only measure lag indicators, once you realize you have an issue it may be too late to readjust and re-convince your team that this is a good thing.
I can't tell you how many times I have sat in a meeting with senior living executives and they ask me can your technology do 'X '? 'X ' is often based on the article they most recently read, a new start up their friend is invested in, or an opinion of some guy who knows a guy.
My first response is always 'How will this technology benefit your business?' which causes them to bounce around the topic with no real answer. In the end, it is because they think it's cool and that it would be a differentiator they could feature in marketing. Very rarely do they have numbers and ideas in their head about how this will be used to drive revenue or cut cost for the long term.
I follow up the conversation by asking them about the last piece of technology they purchased and successfully adopted - which usually steals a little bit of their bravado about new technology. Don’t get me wrong, as an industry; we are getting better. However, senior housing as a whole is years behind the technology curve.
Play Nice With Others
The reality of exploring a new technology solution is you need to ensure that you are implementing technology that has a real and tangible impact on your business. Second, use a technology provider that is not resting on a single technology, but can solve several problems at once - but with the caveat that the situation can become complicated by getting a technology provider that tries to be all things to all people.
For example, if a company is providing you an emergency call system, along with room sensors that monitor the resident in-suite - it's one system for monitoring resident health. This includes items like bed sensors, incontinence sensors, motion sensors, temperature, vitals, etc.
Additionally, work with a technology provider that is forward thinking and willing to share the information with other systems, like electronic health records. Each technology can record massive amounts of data, but by itself, it is not as powerful as it can be when combined with other systems.
For example, a resident is reassessed and is now considered a fall risk. If that information from electronic health records was communicated to your emergency call system, your staff could be prompted to deploy a sensor network that monitors the resident for falls. In the event those sensors were not deployed in a particular time allotment, staff or management would be notified. When the sensor network is deployed, the EHR will update that the proper steps were taken.
In conclusion, the most important things to consider when looking at technology are:
- Is the technology a single platform?
- Does this cause me issues long-term?
- How many single platforms can I handle?
- What is my adoption strategy?
- Who is on the adoption team?
- What are the KPI's we will be monitoring for success?
- What impact will this have on my business?
- Does it create revenue or decrease cost?
- Am I working with a company that is willing to share the data so I can have a clearer picture of how I can improve outcomes?