By Susan Saldibar

Just when you’re starting to get your arms around staffing shortages and keeping your occupancy up, there are more challenges looming up ahead. Here’s a nightmare scenario waiting to play out on the horizon for unprepared senior living operators. It has to do with a collision coming between a new blended care environment and silos of data and workflows that have no idea you just transitioned your care model.

Maybe you’re not sure how that would all pan out. So maybe you’re taking a wait-and-see approach. It’s understandable. But Lynn Madderra, VP of Operations for Continuum CRM (a Senior Living Foresight partner), tells me that she is seeing an increase in operators who are struggling to stitch together diverse platforms that don’t talk to each other, don’t share information, and are wasting the time and talents of everyone from sales to marketing to customer care. And, she tells me the urgency to integrate the complex workflows from different care environments is increasing dramatically over the last couple years.

Back End Workflow Integration May Help Others Get in Line Ahead of You. Unless You Have It Too.

I spoke with Lynn recently about the blurring of the lines between care models and how operators are scrambling to satisfy the demands being made by a new generation of adult children for a true continuum of care for their aging loved ones. That means, if you’re a pure-play assisted living provider, you could find yourself getting sidelined by providers who “get in line” ahead of you by offering at-home care. To remain competitive, you may need to broaden and widen your offering. But there’s an information technology side to all this, which is just as important. Some may argue even more so.

So what are the biggest issues?

  • Static classifications. Now that we’re seeing new concepts like “active adult”, “micro CCRCs”, “granny pods” and other new classifications of senior care, how can your CRM keep up? Can you change classifications dynamically?
  • Lack of fluid data fields. What happens when changes occur and new services are added? Do you have to re-shuffle your data fields? Or do they dynamically adjust? 
  • Silos of data. This has been a problem for at least a couple decades, if not more. Data that cannot be shared impairs the flow of information for your staff, residents, and their families. It breeds inaccuracies in operations and billing. And it stifles your sales and marketing efforts.
  • Inability to seamlessly push data to EHRs, care tracking platforms, etc. This can create a real bottleneck if your staff has to manually input data already residing in your CRM into other programs.
  • Lack of integration ability with external partners. The integration of information systems is becoming more critical as operators seek partnerships with acute and post-acute care providers. Information must flow across these environments. Can your CRM rise to this challenge? 

Few would argue that the care lines are blurring. And the shift to patient-centered care is fueling an even faster transition to a blended care environment. All this is driving a push by operators to develop or partner with providers who can deliver what they cannot. 

“Your Software Must Work for You. Not the Other Way Around.”

That paradigm shift, in and of itself, presents a monumental challenge for senior care providers. But it may be a lagging, limping disconnected infrastructure that brings operators to their knees in the long run. Therefore, Lynn urges leadership to make sure you’re not putting all your attention and effort on the front end, only to end up limping along on the back end with a tangled bunch of disparate systems that keep you shackled to yesterday’s model of care.

“Providers are working overtime to get creative with the services and solutions they are offering,” Lynn explains. “They look to extend beyond ‘the community’ and provide in-home care, memberships, and opportunities for individuals to age in place. These models are shifting and changing constantly. In order to keep up with these transitions, our platforms must be dynamic and support the changes within senior living organizations. Your software must work for you, not the other way around.” 

How are you adjusting to new, blended models of care? Because “wait-and-see” may leave you sidelined.

For more information about Continuum CRM, please visit their website