By Steve Moran

It is clear senior living is on the verge of something …

  • Better
  • New
  • Different
  • Transformative
  • Generational

I didn’t know quite what to expect from the NIC Data & Analytics Conference. Day one, as you might expect, was full of lots of ideas. As I tried to craft day one into a cohesive narrative, it was a huge fail. Here are the highlights. This list of bullet points is a mix of what was presented from the stage and my reflections on the content.

  • It didn’t quite hit me during the entire event, but when I sat to write this, it struck me that we are looking at a new, refreshing cohort of passionate, bright leaders. I was decidedly one of the old folks. I am not sure, but I think — with one or two exceptions — every presenter was under age 60. This is not to say that we older people are quite done making a contribution, but as I eek out the last few month of my 60s, I am more and more cognizant there is a changing of the guard, and that is both a good thing and as it should be.
  • We are in a period of significant growth and transformation.
  • Data is becoming increasingly prominent in the operational decision-making processes that take place every day in our industry. We need to be careful that data is not our master but rather continues to be a tool that makes us better at what we do. It will help us in pricing, customer satisfaction, and team quality of life. It will also allow us to be more efficient while avoiding the real risk of being so efficient that we degrade quality of life for residents, family members, and team members.
  • Figuring out how to use data in a way that is consumable and actionable remains a big challenge.
  • There is a general sense that we are in the early stages of unprecedented growth and demand for what we do. I am not as convinced — a topic I address more fully in other content.
  • There is an enduring sense that senior living lacks sophistication. I am not so convinced that this is true, as was pointed out by at least one presenter. Because we are in it, we don’t appreciate how complex and multifaceted senior living is. There are so many things that have to be considered — so many levers that need to be manipulated every single day. This also means lots of places to get better.
  • We do continue to suffer from a lack of transparency and quality data metrics across the sector. Some examples:
    • What is adequate staffing?
    • What is a reasonable stabilized occupancy?
    • What is a reasonable staff turnover rate?
    • What does quality really mean?
  • There is an expectation that AI will play an increasingly important role. Perhaps it has the potential to revolutionize the industry. It can help with operational improvements, decision-making, and reducing or eliminating routine tasks.

The bottom line is that we are living in an incredibly transformational and fluid time in the senior living and aging services. There continues to be much that we simply don’t know.

Foresight is a media partner with the NIC Data & Analytics Conference.