Are you an Assisted Living facility owner / operator / administrator looking to grow your business? If yes, then Technology is the most important lever that you must use to grow fast, remain relevant in the industry and get some dollars from the health care revolution that is sweeping the nation.
Healthcare consumers and the government are looking for avenues to disrupt the health care industry, contain the ever growing healthcare costs and getter better health care, especially with increased lifespan – living longer and sicker – in the US. Affordable Care Act and Accountable Care Organizations are two pieces driving the pace and direction.
As 80% of massive Medicare spending is consumed by a small population, politicians, administrators and consumers are looking for ways to contain the spending growth – if not the spending amount.
Assisted Living and In-Home Care are two areas that could benefit from these healthcare trends. And technology is the key vehicle that drives every sector of the industry and economy – retail, manufacturing, distribution, food & restaurant, entertainment, media, etc. to name a few. But, the state of technology adoption in the assisted living / senior living industry is so abysmal so far, that a tiny piece of the industry is leveraging technology to its advantage.
There could be many reasons why the senior living industry has not adopted the technology in a big way in the past. Chief among these are (1) high cost of hardware, (2) high cost of software, (3) practical issues, (4) staff training, and, (5) lack of awareness among the managers / executives / owners. None of these reasons are applicable today.
Thanks to the pervasive nature of the internet, invention and massive adoption of smart phones and tablets, fast decline of personal computers, adoption of technology by the younger generation, availability of cloud based technologies, and user experience centric design of software applications, none of the above factors are true reasons for not embracing the technology – cheaply, quickly and in every aspect of business.
Even the top dogs in the assisted living industry such as Brookdale Senior Living – which is about to merge with Emeritus, another large organization providing senior living services – are adopting technology very slowly – in bits and pieces.
For example, Senior Housing News in its report Assisted Living Unprepared for Huge Healthcare Role states that Brookdale is planning Automation of Medication Administration in its assisted living communities this year. And we were talking about electronic prescriptions, exchange of data via HL7, etc. for years – if not decades!
So it is time for the the senior living industry – meaning assisted living facilities, memory care communities, skilled, residential care homes, group homes, board and care homes, adult care homes – whatever name they go by – to take a deep breath and plunge into the technology.
Being small in size is not an excuse. In fact, smaller the facility or care home, it is easy to adopt and use the technology (websites, social media, CRM, cloud applications, mobile apps, mHealth, health monitoring, etc.) and spring ahead of the larger communities.
Unless the assisted living industry pulls up its act together and acts fast, it may be left behind. Fruits of ACA , ACO and other acronyms may be grabbed by other healthcare players.