For two days in August, leaders from Silicon Valley and senior living came together at the SafelyYou Senior Living Summit to connect, collaborate, and create change. This unique, one of a kind, premier event brought together VCs, capital partners and senior living executives to help establish a blueprint for new phases of growth, gains, excellence and evolution.
The event, centered around technology and innovation, featured both panel sessions and collaborative discussions, resulting in key takeaways that can help in planning for the needs of seniors and their caregivers.
Operators have many competing priorities, so it can be challenging to take time out of daily needs in order to evolve to new and better solutions.
In the 2022 State of Fall Research Report, 80% of operators who were surveyed said technology was highly effective in reducing falls, but many expressed dissatisfaction and were overwhelmed when it came to implementing new systems, due to not only the time commitment involved, but also staff shortages, barriers to training and the cost of the technology itself.
With all of the obstacles that the COVID-19 pandemic created, the unique situation did give operators the chance to focus on technological solutions, particularly when it came to mitigating isolation. Yet greater needs were also uncovered. John Cochrane, president and CEO of HumanGood, said, “COVID amplified our need and absolutely accelerated our adoption of technology [within senior living communities]. And as we look to create a culture of innovation, something that I couldn’t get people to buy into five years ago, they are now saying, ‘I get it.’ But if new tools don’t make operators’ lives easier on day one, they’re out of here.”
With the appropriate internal resources and partners, new innovations can help operators solve the big problems of today, and look to the future to improve the living situation of seniors under their care.
Strategic Partnerships: Find trusted technology partners to drive innovation
Typically, senior living operators are not found in the same room as venture capitalists. They are in different lanes and play different roles within our society. It is a mistake to assume that this means collaborations between the two are unnecessary or unprofitable. Creating forums to exchange ideas enables both groups to learn from each other and provide compelling insights that can drive the business of senior living forward.
Operators need to commit to their technology partners in order to create the path for more technology investment in senior living. Those partnerships are critical, as they enable innovation through the lens of users’ — residents and/or clinical staff — in order to create solutions that are effective, drive value and address real pain points. Once that value is proven, additional technology investment in senior living will follow.
Measurement: Identify, communicate and measure goals
Clear goals and timely feedback are the cornerstones of any strong business plan, and technology in the senior living space is no different. Innovation does not exist to implement and walk away. Ongoing measurement and strategic conversations on insights derived are critical to inform optimizations that drive results.
There is an opportunity for senior living operators, capital and technology partners to improve communication. Operators should relay their needs and what types of solutions might be helpful. Tech providers should seek feedback and continually update system features, and capital partners should communicate their investment goals and what success looks like from a business standpoint.
For example, any solution meant to improve the resident experience should have an agreed-upon outcome before it is implemented. How will the outcome be measured? What needs to be accomplished to declare victory and move on to next steps? These questions should be considered and answered by each party so that everyone is on the same page and achievements are transparent..
Currently, pilots lack the structure and accountability to drive decisions quickly. Innovators are agile and can pivot quickly when operators are judicious in their evaluations. If the goals and commitments are agreed upon upfront, it’s easier for all parties to validate success. Dragging out decisions or pilots will stall (or stop altogether) innovation.
As senior living communities look to the future, technology undoubtedly has a place in the conversation. With the proper resources, open communication and a continuous feedback loop, innovation can propel the industry forward in a way that is meaningful for seniors, providers and stakeholders.