5 Signs Your Community Needs a Tech Upgrade
Digital disruption has arrived in senior living: from community engagement to clinical operations, technology can improve just about every facet of life in a senior living community.
But how do you know whether your technology initiatives are worth the investment?
Nearly every technology provider in the senior living space has adapted its tools to address challenges introduced by the pandemic. While that means there is an abundance of agile senior living technology on the market, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every community has different needs, which means you should always thoroughly vet new solutions before you invest.
Here are five ways to tell when your community may benefit from a new technology platform and how to select the right one.
1: Your Residents Aren’t Using Your Technology
Resident technology usage rates are generally a good barometer of how much residents are getting out of a technology platform.
But first, find out why they’re low. Low usage rates aren’t necessarily an indicator that it’s the wrong tech platform for your community – they might just mean you need to change your approach to adoption and education.
Consider Amazon Alexa voice technology. Some residents may be reluctant to use the device if they’ve never used one before. But that could change with a hands-on demo with staff members.
If you have conducted thorough resident education and many still aren’t responding well to it, it may be time to look for new tech.
Solution: Bring residents into your technology selection and adoption process.
Your residents’ opinions are highly valuable: they’ll give honest feedback about the platform and how it can be improved. Many communities have found success creating a resident technology panel to help vet solutions and teach other residents how to use new tools.
2: Your Staff Constantly Run into Snags in Your Tech Workflow
If you’re evaluating technology primarily used by your clinical or administrative staff, ask: how can we give our staff more time back each day to focus on better serving our residents?
A lot of senior living technology is designed to streamline workflows for senior living providers. On the clinical side, tech can handle manual tasks like data entry and file retrieval so that nursing staff can stay on top of daily caregiving tasks. Likewise, digital engagement platforms can help administrative staff plan and communicate with residents at scale.
If your CNAs constantly have to troubleshoot on your care app, or if your activities director keeps having to manually send out emails about new events, you may want to consider a change.
Solution: Ask technology vendors about how they can solve your community’s pain points upfront.
Vendors in the senior living space have likely seen a pain point like yours before, but not always. Make sure your vendor’s platform is built to handle an operational challenge like yours.
3: Family Members Want to Hear from Your Community More
Another important stakeholder to consider in your technology selection is your residents’ family members.
To evaluate how effective your tech is for family communication, ask: how often do you message families? Is it only in the event of an emergency, or every week, regardless of what’s happening? What are your family members’ communication preferences, and are you able to respect them?
Strong relationships with family members bolster occupancy rates. A family member who’s unsatisfied with a community’s communications and feels left in the dark may be inclined to move their loved one back home.
But it can be difficult to build those relationships in a community of hundreds of residents. Digital family engagement platforms can help staff manage frequent communications at scale.
Solution: Send out family feedback surveys to see how you can improve communication channels and cadence. Look for technology solutions designed specifically for family engagement in senior living, which must be HIPAA-compliant.
4: You’ve Had Issues with Compliance
Speaking of compliance, because senior living communities often manage confidential health information on behalf of residents, your technology must have high compliance standards.
Some technology solutions are built for cross-market use, which isn’t always a problem, but it can be for compliance protocols and HIPAA regulations in your community.
Perhaps you already have a family engagement system in place, but it doesn’t allow you to securely send updates about the status of a resident’s health or mood. Or it does, but doing so got one of your staff members in trouble.
Solution: Ensure your technology solution has compliance guidelines baked into the platform. There are too many for staff to keep track of on their own.
5: Your Vendor Isn’t Receptive to Feedback
Sometimes, you may come across a technology use case in your community that isn’t supported by the current platform. Or maybe you’re having problems deploying an app to all the devices in the community.
A strong technology partner should be able to offer live support and respond to your feedback.
Some vendors can also develop custom features or adjustments. Say some of your hard-of-hearing residents were having trouble understanding the video content from your community engagement platform. Your vendor may be able to set up automatic closed captions.
Solution: Look for a technology vendor with a strong client success program to help your community address roadblocks and build tailored solutions.
Before Investing in New Technology, Identify Your Desired Outcomes
You may know that you need a new tech platform to solve problems ASAP, but don’t rush into it. Signing a contract for the first platform you come across without adequate evaluation may do more harm than good.
Take the time to define what you want to achieve with a new technology platform before you begin your search, and bring your users – residents, staff, and family members – into the discussion. That way, you’ll be able to articulate your needs to a vendor that can work with you to improve outcomes for everyone in your community.