SHIFT: Technology Driving Improvements in Senior Living

April 4, 2024

Technology can drive incredible transformation for senior living communities, but it’s rare to get a peek behind the curtain to see what other industry leaders are actually using to create change. That’s why Lindsey Daugherty, head of community at Sage, sat down with three experienced senior living leaders for a panel titled “Technology Driving Improvements in Senior Living.” The panelists spoke about how they leverage data in their operations, how to select the right tech partner, how data can facilitate open and fact-based conversations with family members and caregiving staff, how to get staff buy-in when implementing new tech, and what’s on the horizon for tech in senior living. The panelists included Joelle Poe, CEO and president of Centered Care, Blair Quasnitschka, vice president of operations at Senior Living Communities, and Erin Thompson, director of client services at Senior Virtual Health and executive director at Aspire for More with Erin.

This webinar was hosted as a part of SHIFT, a series from Sage about how senior living operators can shift into a tech-forward mindset. Click below to watch the full panel, which includes discussion of how AI will transform operations and how data can better inform KPIs.

How are you seeing data put into action in senior living?

“There's what the residents say they want, and then there's what the residents' behavior actually shows us that they want. So we're using data to start to create really personalized care plans and also help empower our caregivers to know who needs what, when, and the most efficient way in which we can administer that care.”
— Joelle Poe

Blair uses data as a proof point for his operational and caregiving teams, showing them the numbers behind why they’re changing tactics.

“The other piece is money. With everything we do right now, the dollar of operating our business has become so amplified. So data [tells] us where to go to be more intentional and effective with our time and our resources. Without data, you're kind of guessing, but the numbers are tough to argue with.”
— Blair Quasnitschka
“Pattern recognition can give you an idea of what problems to look at, and to try to proactively solve those problems. It can also help connect with a family who's struggling with [their loved one] needing a higher level of care. If we have data, we can say to them, ‘This is where we're struggling, this is when we may need additional help, this is why they may need a different level of care,’ and it can help connect the facts and the emotions behind really tough conversations.”
— Erin Thompson

What gaps would you like tech to fill in the next five years?

Joelle hopes to see technology that can assist with shift changes.

“All the devices, sensors, and ambient data collection can’t replace a caregiver and a nurse that just knows that person. I'm really curious and very open to how we start to kind of supplement that human element with additional information.”
Joelle Poe

Blair noted opportunities for transparency, particularly with residents’ family members.

“If we're trying to operate the most efficiently that we can, then what data can they have in a portal sense, or at their fingertips, where they don't have to call and say, ‘Hey, what did Mom eat the last couple of nights? Or how has she slept?’ [...] I think that gets us all on the same team, and it starts to break down any sort of barrier.”
Blair Quasnitschka

How can senior living leaders find the right tech partners?

“It's the tech partner that listens first and talks later. They don't just come at you with the solution, because their version of the solution might not be your version of the solution.”
Blair Quasnitschka

Blair recommended looking for products which are adaptable and have a wide range of capabilities to cater to your community’s evolving needs.

“There are core data principles that I think all of us need to start to hold our vendor partners accountable for. And I can speak to my experience with Sage; you are great partners. On the data side, data should be findable, it should be accessible, it should be interoperable, and it should be reusable.” She added that tech partners should know the space well enough to anticipate needs. “They're thinking about things that I haven't even considered yet, because that's the role. I'm hiring them not only for their solution, but for their expertise.”
— Joelle Poe

Erin noted that not all communities fit into a cookie-cutter mold and tech partners need to deeply understand the senior living profession—including caregivers.

“You've got past the first hurdle, which may be the C-suite, but now you're really in the trenches with the people inside the community. So how are you going to inspire them? How are you going to inform them? How are you going to keep them involved and keep them interested? That is a big part of any type of transformation inside of a community.”
Erin Thompson

What are some tips for tech adoption?

“Change is hard. It's uncomfortable. But everything's uncomfortable until it's comfortable.”
Erin Thompson

She suggests that leaders change their mindset, approaching change as a fun opportunity and modeling that excitement for others.

“You should have a strategic plan first, and the strategic plan outlines what you're good at and where your pain points are. If you're considering bringing on anything technology related and it doesn't solve for one of those pain points, I think you really have to question: Is it worth it?”
Blair Quasnitschka
“There's the financial evaluation, there's the operational evaluation, and then there's the experience evaluation—and, obviously, we do a technical evaluation as well. What we're really looking for is: Are we trying to achieve the right things by picking this solution or by making this change? And do we understand what ‘good’ is going to look like and how we're going to measure that?”
— Joelle Poe