Looking back on the past two years, change and adaptability are the two words that come to mind first when thinking about the senior care industry. The advancements in processes, technology and communication methods during the pandemic would have normally taken years, if not decades, to be vetted, piloted and implemented across the industry. The lightning speed with which these changes have been made suggests that the senior care sector will continue to be a trendsetter in embracing change.
So as the year gets started, here are the three trends we are watching for 2022.
Interoperability: Using technology to better use information
A lot of technology adopted during the pandemic was implemented in order to keep organizations compliant with new mandates and regulations. This project-focused mindset will gradually shift as the benefits of a technologically enabled ecosystem become apparent to staff, residents, families and larger care teams.
As budgets become tighter and resources become more scarce, the digitization of manual processes not only reduces the administrative burden on staff but also meets transparency compliance standards while increasing the participation and inclusion of wider care teams by simplifying information exchange.
This purpose-driven approach to collaboration puts patients and residents at the center of healthcare by reducing barriers to information. Each member of a care team is now used to timely, personalized and proactive interactions, and this expectation is now the norm.
Transitioning from housing information in disparate locations and systems to an interconnected technology ecosystem can solve, or at least improve, a variety of issues in the senior care industry while improving care.
The expansion of care teams
As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the need for a sufficient workforce to properly care for them is becoming more critical. Not only are senior care facilities chronically short-staffed, but the information exchange between healthcare providers is also lacking. The solution? Not simply increasing staffing rates.
When you consider the many people who are involved in caring for a senior: clinical staff, specialists, home health aides, senior care residential staff, friends and family members – the list is extensive yet the communication and collaboration amongst each person is disjointed, creating a siloed system.
“Digital tools that are easy to implement and use enable care team members to accomplish tasks easier and more effectively. That’s the way technology improves person-centred care.”-Anthony Mar, CEO, Cliniconex
The adoption of digital tools to increase communication and collaboration amongst these team members is imperative; especially as care is increasingly delivered in-home and community-based settings. As both patients and unpaid caregivers continue to be critical members of the care team, real-time access to patient information and increased collaboration disperses the burden of care while improving outcomes.
Reimagining the workforce
Burnout. The Great Resignation. These terms have become all too familiar lately, and retaining staff is of high concern to senior care administrators. With tighter regulatory compliance issues squeezing an already depleted workforce, how should senior care employers approach the future? Building collaborative, team-focused environments are one path forward, and technology can be the driving force behind such a workforce.
As more digital natives enter the senior care industry, using technology to foster collaboration with those used to using a phone, app or device to communicate with their peers can impact hiring levels while also easing the onboarding process. Detailed, digitized onboarding tools and checklists ensure training, mentoring and important team building activities are not overlooked – especially during times of high turnover.
Enabling a workforce to use the skills they already have to better communicate, collaborate and care can help create an engaged and empowered workforce.
What 2022 holds
While the pandemic has been a catalyst for the increased investment in technology, going forward, each piece of technology implemented needs to be many things to many people. Tools need to be multi-organizational and multi-disciplinary and should aid in breaking down barriers between organizations, staff, caregivers and those in their care.