Infrastructure that includes the right hardware, software, network, and people to run the IT will prove essential to gaining resident satisfaction. The right infrastructure will:
• Improve the quality of life
• Advance the quality of care
• Increase length-of-stay
• Prevent negative health events from illnesses or falls
IT infrastructure will also determine whether a community can provide the right bandwidth to address all the residents’ social media and online needs. The right information technology helps a senior community expand its service continuum by providing the technology that supports care, from independent living to hospice care. Infrastructure also allows a community to expand the number of residents it can support with its technology.
More importantly, the right infrastructure will allow residents to age in place at lower levels of care for longer— as opposed to being moved across the care continuum in response to, or anticipation of, a negative health event. Why? Because the right IT infrastructure is an essential prerequisite to employing remote monitoring or other health alert systems that can keep residents healthier and safer for longer.
The right hardware and software for a given type of senior living community or average resident acuity level is vital to quality of care. Residents who are independent, for example, will want personal wellness apps and plenty of Internet access. Those in assisted living and memory care will benefit from remote monitoring. But regardless of the level of care or amenity, being able to provide technological necessities means also having the IT infrastructure to support them.
Why Should Senior Living Communities Start Planning Now for the Future of Their Infrastructure?
Many senior living communities only build their systems around their current infrastructure. But because of the rapid development of bigger and better IT offerings for both elder care residents and the communities where they reside, this can lead to frustration down the line.
To keep abreast of the changes, building out an infrastructure that is more robust than what is currently needed is essential. To take it a step further, senior living operators should not build their infrastructure for what is wanted, but for what could be wanted: IT that has not yet been developed. A scalable infrastructure is an essential part of planning for the future—one that is able to support not only the business requirements needed today, but also the services that may be available and wanted tomorrow.
The Financial Benefits of Strong Infrastructure
A sound infrastructure is the foundation for the use of advanced care technology. More seniors are seeking care that provides the most technology has to offer, senior living homes that choose to stay abreast of these changes and demands will maximize their potential for resident retention, and thus have the greatest impact on their bottom line.
Though budget is always an element of IT planning that cannot be ignored, there are creative ways for planning an infrastructure with scalability to meet a budget – and budget concerns should not deter a senior living executive from exploring ways to expand infrastructure that will suit the future. Through careful analysis of resources, IT experts can help a senior living organization create a customized plan for its technology use. Spending money on a better infrastructure and proactively planning for changes to come is always more cost-effective than waiting for IT troubles to arise.
Facilitated ACO Participation and Value-Based Care
Likewise, money spent up front to invest in electronic health records will allow a senior living community to participate in “value-based care:” care that is delivered, in part, through accountable care organizations (ACOs). Participation in an ACO is fast becoming a necessity, not an option, for senior living homes that want to survive in today’s changing healthcare reimbursement landscape. Though being part of an ACO will cost money initially—through the purchase of electronic health records, applications, and infrastructure to improve care—in the end, it will make money for the senior living organization that gets on board.
Today’s burgeoning senior population is tech-savvy and determined to stay independent. These seniors want to make the most of technology to build a happy and healthy golden era of their lives. Senior living organizations that haven’t made the improvements necessary to provide these needs may soon find they face declining resident retention and occupancy rates. Proactively planning for these anticipated technological needs is much less expensive than grafting in makeshift solutions in the future—if such stopgap measures are even possible. Is your infrastructure “right”? What steps are you taking to improve it?