May 04 2017

Argentum 2017: 3 Tech Deployment Hurdles Senior Living Communities Face

The difficulties of education and resistance to change are just a few of the challenges leaders must consider.

For senior living facilities, technology deployment often occurs with a focus on streamlining workflow for staff.

But such rollouts can have the opposite effect if challenges aren’t embraced early, executives and IT leaders said during a discussion this week at the Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

Several universal hurdles were identified by panel members who each have worked with CDW Healthcare.

Three of those challenges include:

Considering the Future of Care

The demographic is changing, said Greg Swope, vice president of IT and CIO at Five Star Senior Living. “What our residents want today may not be what they want in five to 10 years. How do we evolve the company to be able to, through innovation, meet the needs of future residents?

Charles Turner, president of LifeWell Senior Living, said that organizations today must balance meeting today’s infrastructure needs with building for tomorrow’s innovation. “A lot of people think of wireless infrastructure for their communities as, ‘I want my 85-year-old resident to be able to use their iPad.' But you have to think of an infrastructure that’s going to be used for way more things than you could ever imagine.”

Benchmark Senior Living Vice President of IT Moulay Elalamy echoed that sentiment, saying that organizations make a generational leap in order to avoid falling behind on technology and then scurrying to catch up.

If I’m going to put something up, it better be good for the next 10 years, not the next 18 months,” he said.

Monitoring Resistance to Change

While many residents are happy to try new things and fit technology into their lives, others like to keep their routines as simple and consistent as possible, Swope said. He shared a related story: After Five Star changed its dining program to offer its residents more choices and flexibility through a point-of-sale system, many spoke up about wanting things to remain the same.

We didn’t really realize how the residents’ resistance to change would impact that program,” he said. The same concept can be applied to technology deployment, Swope added.

Educating End Users is Becoming Key

No matter how easy use of a new technology may seem, training residents must not be taken for granted, Turner said.

“There’s a lot of really cool technology out there for seniors,” he said. “The problem is sometimes we conflate the term ‘simple’ with ‘familiar.’ … There are a lot of points of failure” for even simple tools.

The same challenges apply to staff, Elalamy said. Not everybody has a phone or knows how to use a solution that may appear to be plug-and-play, he said, meaning robust education is needed.

“We’ve noticed that over time, the most successful deployments are the ones with a grassroots mentality to them,” Elalamy said. “We very much involve all stakeholders in our processes. Also, users need to know why” they’re deploying a certain tool. “When you start with the 'why' instead, it can be much more powerful.”

Read articles from HealthTech’s coverage of Argentum 2017 here.


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