communities evaluating their technology of- ferings would be wise to start with their stra- tegic needs. “If you’re deploying technology just to deploy technology, then you’re going to have a problem,” he said. “You need to have a technology vision

that complements your overall strategic plan,” Palmquist said. “Take a look at your business and your service model and con- sider what the biggest things are that are keeping you awake at night. From there, you can prioritize how to leverage technology to help with those issues.” Involving the residents and staff in the

evaluation and decision-making process is critical. At Bishop Gadsden, for instance, the community fields a technology com- mittee that includes both residents and staff members. Residents detail their challenges, preferences, and desires related to technology through the committee, helping the Bishop Gadsden administration “see what they’re in- terested in and consider how we can address their needs,” Borts said. Bishop Gadsden recently completed a major upgrade of its Wi-Fi system based on the recommendations of residents on the committee. “I’d encourage communities like ours to

involve their current residents—as well as their future residents—in providing input around technology,” Borts said. “It’s been very helpful.” Borts said she believes it is essential to

make sure that staff attend leading-edge con- ferences that demonstrate the type of tech- nology offerings that are coming to market. The conferences help communities consider tech resources for the present and future. “We all sort of get into our bubble, and sometimes we need to be taken out of that bubble so we can really look beyond and see what opportunities might be out there that we just don’t know about yet,” Borts said. Manning said communities should use

resident and staff satisfaction surveys to re- search what technological tools and services would be a good fit for them. “Analyze those responses to choose

solutions that will be most effective, with due consideration for how these choices will be affected by rapid advancements in

technology,” Manning said. “A long-range technology planning process that includes the voices of residents, families, and staff members will help a senior living [com- munity] remain competitive and offer its residents the best in health care, wellness, and planned living.” When evaluating an organization’s technol-

ogy infrastructure, Blazek recommends creat- ing a technology roadmap built with the help of a gap analysis. The roadmap should em- phasize what she calls the three C’s—choice, control, and connection—for residents, fami- lies, and staff members, she said.

Once a community has evaluated its

needs, taking the right steps to meet those needs, including choosing the right vendors as partners, becomes paramount. Technolo- gy infrastructure represents a sizable invest- ment. Blazek said identifying an all-inclusive technology solution is challenging and that can result in gaps in service even after a new system is in place. Sometimes, solutions that appear great on the screen don’t translate well to the field, she said. “Most commonly, these gaps are not

apparent at first, but become noticeable when the workarounds begin,” Blazek

“Take a look at your business and your service model and consider what the biggest things are that are keeping you awake at night. From there, you can prioritize how to leverage technology to help with those issues,” said Palmquist.

“If you are starting from scratch, begin with the biggest pain point and work out from there,” Blazek said. “The technology gap analysis will enable you to see which systems are serving the three C’s and which are holding your organization back. This is especially important if you are running multiple, parallel technology products due to acquisitions. From there, your technolo- gy roadmap will emerge and you can begin directing your systems instead of running after them.”

Addressing the gaps Palmquist said senior living communities once resembled multifamily residences in the way they operated but have evolved into high-touch, service businesses. That height- ens the importance of the use of technology in operations, he said. “When you look at managing a long,

complex list of services and making sure they are delivered throughout the day to sometimes hundreds of different residents, you can see how the role of technology has become very important,” Palmquist said.

said. “Frequent gaps revolve around care delivery, event coordination, resident state- ments, and customer experience. By being prepared with a complete wish list at the point of purchase, senior living providers are better informed about potential gaps as they complete their technology plan.” When selecting solutions, Manning

recommends that solutions for staff should relieve them from nonessential jobs and tasks and improve job satisfaction and mo- rale, while technology for residents should be designed and calibrated for older adults to use. “Simpler user interfaces with fewer taps

to reach the desired outcome work best,” Manning said. “Issues related to declining motor coordination as well as changes in vi- sion and hearing also need to be considered when designing and offering technology to older adults.”

Spending strategy Senior living communities can represent un- tapped buying power with technology, said Jason Scutt, president of Worth Telecom


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