Standard IT infrastructure usually consists of hardware that includes servers, computers, data centers, switches, hubs, and routers. It also includes software, which encompasses an array of applications, and networks that provide the access to the Internet. IT infrastructure also requires people to provide the planning, design, maintenance, and support for IT.
Today’s senior living spaces require a well-planned infrastructure that includes network-optimizing appliances and advanced wireless design to effectively and securely connect networks while also integrating voice, video, and data needs. Front-end UI/UX software development, sensor integration, server, storage and networking technology, advanced routing, and switching capabilities are also key for organizations that want to stay ahead of their competition and offer the highest levels of care and service.
Infrastructure must also be able to support the business technology side of senior living, which is expanding, changing, and improving at the same pace as senior care technology. The Chartis Group notes that care provider organizations should consider themselves to also be information management companies, and states that “emerging offerings that integrate clinical, financial and operational data and include sophisticated analytic capabilities are unlocking new levels of clinical effectiveness and operational efficiency.” In order to keep up, senior living organizations will need the business-side technology (and infrastructure) to support not just residents, but key operational criteria as well.
Just as care applications are multiplying at a rapid rate, so are operational technologies and applications. These applications can help with medical billing coding for the changing, complex federal reimbursement landscape and can help to save time and prevent billing errors—and, in the end, save money. In addition, healthcare data analysis garnered from electronic health records and health monitoring technology can be used to predict trends that can save time and money and curtail adverse events in resident care—but to run any of these technologies, enterprise-class IT infrastructures must be in place and able to support them.
What Systems Require IT Infrastructure?
There are a host of applications, artificial intelligence-powered solutions, and technological advances that can keep seniors healthy and safe while making positive impacts on the business indicators important to senior living. The common thread among all these quality of care, quality of life, and quality of business improving technologies is that they require strong IT infrastructure in order to be used to their full capacity—or sometimes even used at all.
Though care technologies that senior housing operators install in communities require significant IT infrastructure and bandwidth, so too do the technologies that staff–and even future residents–will bring with them into senior housing.
For example, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets can place significant strain on otherwise generally adequate networks—and the magnitude of that strain is only going to increase in years to come. One needs only to look to the past to see the pace of change. Eight years ago, there were no smartphones. Over the last year or so, technology has become more dependent on wireless connections. These connections require more speed and bandwidth than in the recent past. Progress is evolving exponentially.
Not only do senior living organizations make use of these many technological advances, but residents do, as well. When those residents, especially baby boomers, choose to make the transition from living in their own homes to senior care, they will expect all of their many personal devices to work as well in the new setting.
To learn more about the questions to ask to determine your IT infrastructure needs, download the Checklist: Building the IT Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s Senior Living Communities.