When you hear the words, “Senior Care”, what comes to mind?
How about technological innovation? Going paperless? Or a strong focus on customer service?
In this blog post, we’ll explore how these concepts are blossoming and improving healthcare within Senior Care organizations across the country.
To begin, we’ll imagine the hypothetical situation of a patient named Barbara.
Barbara was transferred to a skilled nursing facility after a hip replacement.
When she arrived, all entry forms, assessments, and financial information were submitted through safe and secure digital methods by her family member with power-of-attorney.
For Barbara and her family, there was no sitting in someone’s office filling out paperwork, no making family members travel to a facility to complete and fill out important forms, and no frustration over how time-consuming it can be to read and fill out mountains of forms.
And when family members wanted to communicate with facility administration, they used a central communication platform where they could send their questions or requests and receive updates on Barbara’s status through text.
Her primary care team also used this communication platform to remain aware of Barbara’s progress, and recommend any medication or treatment changes as needed.
Utilizing these digital tools, the skilled nursing facility was able to quickly and efficiently meet Barbara’s complete care needs, and she was discharged healthier and happier than when she arrived.
This imagined scenario offers a powerful glimpse into how digital healthcare and consumer engagement solutions can improve a patient’s experience with Senior Care.
Senior Care is the setting where the most vulnerable, chronically ill, disadvantaged patients receive care. But it’s not just the work of healing and sustaining life that Senior Care organizations and leaders engage in. On top of everything else, they face complicated end-of-life issues, complex family dynamics and requests, razor-thin margins, and so much more.
While technological solutions exist for many of these challenges, senior care organizations have traditionally been slower to adopt them.
However, some senior care organizations are making moves to focus more on being a customer service business, and making the whole care experience less complicated and more enjoyable for patients and their family members.
This approach can be particularly impactful because long-term care is often viewed as the safety net of healthcare. These vulnerable patients may even typically be skipped over for a more technologically enabled, seamless healthcare experience, all because they can’t afford to pay more.
One obstacle facing technological adoption in senior care is that many of the disparate solutions don’t work well together, creating even more noise and disruption in an already complicated care environment.
While a universal digital platform for healthcare likely won’t be achieved, there are strategies that can be followed to improve the adoption and utilization of digital health tools in senior care. (1)
Two of these strategies involve:
- Understanding the consumer
- Engaging the consumer
In this case, understanding the consumer would involve understanding not only the patients, and their family members who participate in their care. Perficient, a healthcare services company, recommends the following tactics for developing that strong understanding. Their list includes performing surveys, holding focus groups, interviewing patients and their family members, connecting with patient/advocacy groups, and building out personas. (2) The charts below, published by Deloitte, showcase how patients can be better understood by separating them into 6 different customer segments (3).
Deloitte’s study then breaks down these results by age bracket, as shown below:
Understanding the patients empowers organizations to engage them in more meaningful ways. Experts recommend investing in online patient engagement platforms, like Redde, to create two-way communication pathways linking patients and their family members to the organization, utilize automated notifications, updates, and reminders, and allow them to do all this and more from their phones. (4)
Other methods to engage patients include personalizing communication, keeping information simple and transparent, and performing proactive check-ins to ensure they’re doing well. (4)
With all the current and potential technological innovations that can and will support this important mission, it is important to remember that the most -needed ingredient to successful patient care is the heart and compassion of those working in senior or long-term care facilities. It is not possible to create a digital solution that can replace their passionate efforts to sustain and improve life.
It’s an understatement to say their vital work is not always pretty or glamorous. It’s often a thankless, unrecognized, looked-down upon work performed in quiet settings, in front of an audience of one. In light of the many obstacles and challenges these caregivers and organizations face, it is truly heroic that senior care centers are transforming patient care around the country by following some of the best practices above.
No one deserves substandard care, and these caregivers and organizations are ensuring that their patients are understood, engaged, and receive the care they need in the best ways.
To their continued success and yours,
From the team at Wixcorp
A special thank you to our friends Scott Ng and Scott Johnson for sharing their thoughtful insight and experience of the Senior Care world.
Notes and references: