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Senior Housing Forum article by Laura Mitchell

04/29/2015

New and innovative technologies have become important tools for senior living providers to enhance care delivery, whether it is for residents living within a community or independently at home.   In addition to meeting the functional and technical requirements of the business, these platforms must also be able to adapt to the user ecosystem, including marketing managers, care managers, IT and operational staff.

I recently sat down with Sheri Peifer, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer of Eskaton Senior Living, to discuss Eskaton’s care management program and her guidance when selecting enabling technologies to improve their operations and position the company for future growth.

“One of our struggles is the ease of the (patient) referral process into our Live Well At Home program. This is really important to us for an integrated staff experience and better client satisfaction,” said Peifer.  “Therefore, we selected the LivWell Health* platform to help our care coordination staff manage and automate the workflow as a result of referrals from physicians and discharge planners”.

* LiveWell Health is A Senior Housing Forum Partner.

Technology Implementation Obstacles

Sheri and I went on to discuss some common obstacles that senior living communities face in today’s digital caregiving world.   Here’s what I learned:

  1. It’s hard to force new technologies on staff members, especially if they do not see immediate success.
  2. Technology must make life easier, and not harder, for staff members otherwise adoption and efficiency suffers.
  3. The referring discharge process is a tense and urgent situation. Follow-up must be quick and painless, with little room for error.  This is where task-automation is critical.A referral process doesn’t end with the referral. The technology-enabled team must be prepared to be a resource to the client, every step of the way.
  4. We must be able to measure the patient’s quality of care throughout the process, and technology can play a key role in capturing metrics to measure health outcomes and service response rates.

Sheri explained the inefficiency and limitations associated with their prior care transitions process, and Eskaton’s initiative to transform their patient referral process, using the LivWell Health platform as a critical tool for their care management staff.

Here’s how it works:  

LivWell Health is built upon the SalesForce CRM platform, which means that when a physician goes on Eskaton’s website to make a referral, the referral is automatically tracked and recorded into the HIPAA-enabled LivWell platform.  Eskaton’s intake coordinator is immediately notified and prompted to provide immediate and necessary support to the referred client.

What I didn’t expect was the promise Eskaton has made to reach out within 3-5 minutes of the referral submission.  Now it was clear to me why the seamless and automated tracking process was so important to Eskaton’s workflow process.

Sheri explained the importance of this:

 “We know how much pressure is involved in a patient discharge experience.  Our promise of immediate response has been a huge relief for the healthcare providers and for the referred patients we work with.”

As we neared the end of our conversation, Sheri stressed the importance of full staff buy in. If everyone does not believe in the vision, it will be hard to implement successfully.  She recommended gaining staff approval through inclusion, education and full transparency.  This led me to the five million dollar question. How did she get staff members to actually adopt this new technology platform?

Her response was obvious, yet impressive:

“Technology needs to make sense from a practitioner’s point of view”

She explained that she and the LivWell Health team invited Eskaton’s veteran care managers to participate in the development process from day one. Care Managers were directly involved in usability testing, driving the assessment design, incorporating feedback and beta testing the product.  In short, staff buy-in was never an issue because they were bought-in from the beginning.

When I stop to think about my discussion with Sheri, it struck me that implementation of innovative technologies may be one of the largest obstacles in the healthcare/long term care setting.  It is wise and forward-thinking to engage staff and end-users deeply and early in the technology adoption process.

With true staff buy in, a new and improved corporate vision can be achieved.

LivWell Health offers a secure, cloud-based solution specifically designed for senior living and community-based organizations to enhance quality-of-life, improve community operations and enable new programs for future growth.

Laura

http://seniorhousingforum.net/blog/2015/4/29/are-you-engaging-your-staff-part-your-technology-innovation

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