No Vacancy: How Remote Monitoring Can Increase Occupancy Rates

As of the second quarter of 2015, the average senior living occupancy rate is 90 percent according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care. This is a respectable improvement over occupancy rates during the recession, which hovered around 86 percent. While a layman might point out that there’s hardly a difference between 86 percent and 90 percent, senior living executives and strategists know that a four percent increase in occupancy rate can be huge for a senior community. It can mean the difference between just breaking even (or worse) and strong profitability.

Small Changes in Occupancy Rate Can Have Make or Break Significance

For example, at a 225 unit assisted living community with average pricing of $5,000 per month, that 4 percent increase in occupancy rate would equate to a $540,000 increase in annual revenue.

A full census and a healthy waiting list is is every senior living executive’s goal. What if that same community boosted its occupancy rate from 90 percent to 100 percent? That would equate to an increase in annual revenue of $1.35 million.

Of course the contrary is true as well. A 10 percent decrease in occupancy rate for our hypothetical assisted living facility would mean $1.35 million in losses.There are two basic factors that contribute to overall occupancy rates, move-ins & move-outs. Many providers focus on marketing to drive move-ins in their efforts to increase occupancy rates, and that certainly has value, but leading communities have found that investing in remote monitoring technology has a sizeable impact on occupancy rates by helping to prevent some of the most common causes of move-outs, plus, gives them a key competitive advantage to add to their marketing to enhance move-ins. Here’s how:

Keeping Residents Safe and Healthy

Today’s top of the line Artificial Intelligence powered, sensor-based, passive remote monitoring technologies not only alert staff when an emergency has already occurred – they proactively alert staff when a resident’s health or safety is at risk in time for staff to intervene and prevent illness and other negative health events. Aspects of remote monitoring that prevent common-causes of move-outs include:

  • Fall prevention through continuous, automated fall risk assessment: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year.” What’s more “about 10 percent to 20 percent of nursing home falls cause serious injuries; 2 percent to 6 percent cause fractures.” It can be presumed the rate of falls at assisted living communities and other senior living care types besides nursing homes is somewhat lower because the residents are less frail, but falls are a major concern and common cause of move-outs at all classes of senior living. Remote monitoring with automated fall risk assessment is a godsend for senior living staff, as it affords staff the opportunity to implement a personalized fall prevention strategy for an at-risk resident before an incident occurs.
  • Pressure ulcer alerts: Pressure ulcers are another common but serious issue at senior care facilities such as nursing homes, memory care, and assisted living communities. According to CDC stats, approximately one in ten nursing home residents currently have a pressure ulcer, which can lead to hospitalization and even mortality. Passive remote monitoring technology is able to detect hotspots thatsuggest a pressure ulcer may be about to form, and alert staff to assess and re-position residents appropriately to avoid pressure ulcers developing.
  • Early illness detection: Among seniors especially, treatment of an illness is most effective (and sometime only effective) when it commences in the early stages of the illness. For example, bacterial infections can be treated early and eliminated before they become serious when antibiotics are prescribed at the earliest signs of illness. Advanced remote monitoring technologies facilitate early treatment through artificial intelligence detecting the early signs of illness by non-invasively monitoring vital signs and other functional health data from a combination of ambient sensors including motion, pressure, and depth sensors. Residents are then able to be treated for an illness potentially days before staff, or the resident themselves,, would have otherwise noticed the symptoms. Over time, this improves overall population health which increases average length of stay, thereby improving occupancy rates by decreasing move-outs.

Other Ways Remote Monitoring Can Improve Occupancy Rate

Remote monitoring influences occupancy rate positively through other mechanisms as well. For example, in communities where it has been implemented, caregiving staff do not need to spend as much time on welfare checks, which allows them to spend more time providing quality care and companionship with a personal touch. Residents highly value friendly, helpful caregivers which are critical to resident and family satisfaction. When resident and family satisfaction improve, they are more likely to stay for the long-term, further reducing move-outs..

While the focus of this post has been how remote monitoring prevents move-outs, it can also help the marketers on staff who are working to drive move-ins. For instance, if a senior and his or her family has narrowed their senior living search down to two comparable communities, and one has passive remote monitoring and the other does not, they are more likely than not going to choose the community with remote monitoring. That’s because this technology, when explained to seniors and their loved ones, is a strong selling point and a potentially game changing amenity. Potential residents and their family appreciate the added safety and its preventive rather than reactive nature. And the fact that traditional video cameras and microphones are not part of the passive monitoring regimen alleviates their concerns about privacy.

What are your key strategies to increase occupancy rate? Have you used remote monitoring to help fill your community? Share your comments and question below.

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