A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post outlining 4 ways the senior care technology world is changing – where it’s struggling, where new demands are emerging from seniors themselves, pilots underway and how Big Data and mobile technology are taking center stage. This post continues the 2-part series and explores a few more of the big shifts underway.
5. Emerging tech presents opportunities to fight key senior care concerns like dementia and social isolation (once cost goes down).
Is the senior care industry ready for artificial intelligence and IoT (Internet of Things)? Many readers might be laughing, but others who regularly think about this space say ‘not so fast.’ The innovators in home health argue “the artificial intelligence revolution is coming” and believe that both senior care and assisted living will be improved by IoT. Although we may be far from a full-blown revolution, senior care is starting to experiment with companion robots to help seniors stay connected to family or to monitor and engage residents inside their room. And arguably the biggest reception this year for emerging technology in senior care has been for virtual reality – with big potential for Memory Care, social connection and even vertigo.
6. Thinking differently about new models, creative ways to solve problems and a spirit of continuous learning will drive the future. But so will remembering who you are.
- The model for caring for seniors has changed. Many have argued the existing senior living model must evolve in response to changing needs and expectations from today’s seniors. And the market is taking note – responding with a variety of living environments, care collaborations and partnerships across the continuum. For senior living communities this may mean beginning to also run a medical office, provide home health services or starting to offer unbundled and customizable continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Collaborations in post-acute care may take the shape of acquisitions or complementary community partnership agreements, senior living joining forces with home care organizations or vice versa. Regardless the approach, all are seeking to capture and offer greater value through flexibility and new ideas about where and how to live and receive care as we age, rising up to satisfy Boomer’s desire for social integration, intellectual engagement, intergenerational contact – and technology.
Home health and home care has notoriously struggled the most with technology, as an area of the industry that is handcuffed by challenging reimbursement models, wage and staffing setbacks and unique operations. But creative problem-solving abounds, and new technology subscription models are hitting the market, like the program recently launched by Holiday Retirement, called Milo, which provides all clients with a tablet loaded with apps to support and track progress, and also allows communication across clients, caregivers and family.
- Families need support through the process, and this requires organizations in the senior care services space to think differently. IBM recently commented on the need to build a common language around technology-supported aging, and the industry as a whole continues to work through nomenclature to decide how it wants to be defined. It all starts with dialogue – how do you engage with families? How do you engage with seniors? How about with your peers and the industry as a whole?
Overall, does the industry have a listening problem? Dana Wollschlager, practice leader at Plante Moran Living Forward, says yes and argues it’s hurting success. That it’s driving a ‘head in the sand’ mindset that ignores consumer price sensitivity, technology expectations and more. PointClickCare observes how important relationships with family members are, and recently offered tips for how to be better connected with families in order to win over residents. Families often are caregivers, and today’s children of Baby Boomers are confronted with all new challenges, including “How to have the tech talk” with their aging parents. Are you helping to facilitate this dialogue and make that process easier?
- People-first approach. At the end of the day, the most important piece in meaningful senior care and home health is, and always will be, people. A study done earlier this year by the University of California San Francisco found that to see positive impacts of technology, home care companies need to focus on supporting and training their registered nurses as well as realizing that technology should not replace all human contact. While tech offers amazing applications to save time, facilitate stronger communication, evaluate health and improve care, it will only reach this potential in the hands of capable and caring providers.
Wow, I threw a lot at you! But that’s just a small sample of what’s going on right now when it comes to senior care and technology. What fascinating new technology are you seeing come on the senior care scene? What technology do you believe will have the greatest impact in the next few years? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
Author: Stephanie Manola, Account Director, Outlook Marketing Services