At a time when Medicare and Medicaid funding has becoming increasingly uncertain, it is important for providers to find cost-effective strategies for managing expenses while simultaneously increasing well-being and quality of life for their residents and staff.
We have reached a critical crossroad in senior care. On the one hand, there is an investment in person-centered life enrichment by prioritizing supportive technology positions senior living communities to achieve positive outcomes at a lower cost through individualized engagement. However, if providers choose to retain the status quo, foregoing investments in technology then health outcomes and quality of life for residents and staff will certainly suffer especially as funding continues to be threatened and competition among communities escalates.
What steps can be taken toward a future of technology-enabled life enrichment?
Investing in technology that helps address the needs and desires of residents through digital assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation results in improved clinical and business outcomes for your community.
By improving life enrichment through individualized engagement supported with technology, providers can avoid costs associated with readmissions and drug therapy. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the total costs of penalties to hospitals for readmissions increased to $528 million in 2017. Furthermore, the National Community Pharmacists Association has found that dispensing costs for Long-Term Care pharmacies is 25% more than retail pharmacies.
When providers use technology to help measure, manage and adjust engagement activities, the return on investment includes:
- Increased occupancy
- Improved compliance
- Reduction in readmissions
- Increased quality of life for residents and staff
- Decrease in use of unnecessary drugs
Training and User-Friendly Interface
Prioritizing technology as a supportive tool for individualized life enrichment is certainly a step in the right direction for providers looking to save time and improve outcomes in a cost efficient way. However, investment in a digital platform that is complicated or failing to provide training for staff, can hinder your efforts. Staff have varying levels of expertise with using technology, and residents can have even less experience and comfort. Leadership needs to invest the time in finding a technology platform that it is intuitive and then commit to providing technical assistance and training to staff so that the benefits of the platform can be fully realized by all members of the community. The technology product should also come with a robust customer service system to support the onboarding of the senior community.
Engage Mobile Technology
The increased availability of HIPAA compliant WI-FI access for senior living communities greatly expands the possibility of going mobile to engage residents with life enrichment activities while simultaneously tracking and analyzing individualized user data.
A laptop, tablet or cell phone can become an easy to use care tool for Activity Professionals to engage with residents in a more serendipitous way. There’s no need to book a room for activities or wheel a kiosk with a full monitor and mouse around the facility. Professionals need to look no further than their pocket or handbag to provide on-demand life enrichment. The Winter 2016 Health Tech Report found that a HyTrust survey indicated that 75% of healthcare organizations plan to move their IT systems to a public cloud within the year. If providers want to differentiate themselves from the competition and avoid low occupancy rates, they must stay up-to-date on important healthcare advancements such as the data storage in the cloud and mobile technology.
Technology is of course not the sole solution to any issue we experience in life. Rather data driven technology should be used to complement already successful life enrichment strategies to promote and sustain value-based quality care.