Three CAST Commissioners and Majd Alwan, Ph.D., senior vice president of technology for LeadingAge and CAST executive director, are featured in The 21st Century Senior Living Community, a new report from Senior Housing News and CDW-Healthcare.
The 21st Century Senior Living Community addresses the rate of innovation and constant introduction of new technology that has left many in the senior living industry scrambling. A solution is the 21st Century Community, a tech ecosystem. This complete re-imagination of what senior living entails is poised to change the industry as it stands today, from electronic health records to virtual reality, wearable devices, and more. 
This 41-page report outlines the elements that help a community succeed:

  • Laying the groundwork and infrastructure for technology.
  • Top technology types being used to drive efficiency and resident satisfaction.
  • Creative approaches to teaching about technology.
  • Hospitality technology design being applied in senior living. 

It features perspectives from senior living executives and industry experts, including these:

  • Alwan, in an exclusive Q&A;
  • CAST Commissioner John Couture, vice president of information technology at CAST Patron and LeadingAge Member Lifespace Communities; 
  • CAST Commissioner Joyce Miller, chief information officer at LeadingAge Member Ohio Living Corporate; and 
  • CAST Commissioner Kari Olson, chief innovation and technology officer for CAST Patron and LeadingAge Member Front Porch and president of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing.  

Highlights from their interviews are below.
Importance of Strategic Planning:
In his interview, Alwan emphasized that technology is a strategic investment and must be incorporated in planning and operations to meet a number of demands, including helping people to age well in place, relieving the pressure for providers to coordinate with others for reimbursement, and enabling providers to be person-centered, which may affect the patient's and family's opinion and payment. Technology also can improve the timeliness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of care documentation and help prevent health issues.
Technology supports the industry's labor shortage by helping the care professional have a better understanding of the context surrounding the patient and by attracting millennials to the profession.
Most important in senior living now is having the right pipes—the information and communication infrastructure. High-speed internet is key, as is mobility for engaging staff. Planning strategically for technology is crucial to thriving and competing in the future, because future residents, care delivery models and staff are going to demand good technology. Alwan’s advice: Act quickly before it’s too late.
Technology Roadmaps:
Couture discussed Lifespace Communities’ two-pronged technology roadmap, which looks at corporate solutions and reporting tools to determine whether they’ll help to successfully manage the business. That way, technology will make communities safer while opening a window into how employees spend their time. It also will help identify challenges to speed resolutions. “By building parallel roadmaps, for residents and team members, it’s more appealing and attractive to future team members,” Couture is quoted as saying.
Miller shared thoughts on the proliferation of interactive devices geared toward senior care that have made connectivity from staff to residents, family, caregivers, and more achievable. “For Ohio Living, it’s trying to meet seniors where they are today, but also bringing things in to provide for the next generation of seniors,” she said.
On-Demand Capabilities and Integration:
Olson addressed several issues, including the increasing expectation for senior living providers to deliver on-demand, customized experiences for the people they serve, plus the growing need to integrate technology.
“What I see going forward is the integration into one overall system of services and supports for people,” Olson said. “The end point is making sure the customers are connected to the right people at the right time, in a personalized way.”
“Other industries have leveraged far more than senior living to this point,” Olson said. “We’ll get more sophisticated with this as we go. It’s the only way we’ll be able to deliver on-demand, and do it cost effectively.”

Technology for Residents and Staff:

To introduce technology, there always has to be a need, Olson said. Providers should listen closely to the people they serve, determine solutions, and allocate budget, time, and resources. Front Porch views technology as a collaboration tool for employees and is pursuing mobile technology for them. It also is taking advantage of voice and video applications for residents and considering ways to apply virtual reality. 
Charging for Technology:
Moving forward, providers are going to have to consider what technology residents will simply expect, as opposed to paying for directly. Senior living providers must stay on their toes and be prepared to adapt, swiftly. “The people we serve have choices, and providers who don’t implement technology will not be relevant when people are making those choices,” Olson said.
The assortment of technology stories, wisdom, and solutions in The 21st Century Senior Living Community will help providers imagine how technology can begin to transform their own senior care communities.
Providers interested in bringing their organization to the 21st Century should check CAST’s Strategic Planning and Technology Selection Tools.