Part 1 of a two-part series regarding how Google, Amazon, Skype, or other techies would run our communities.

By Jacquelyn Kung

It’s a pretty cool thought experiment to imagine how a Google, Amazon, Skype, or other techie firms would run our communities.

In fact, it’s not so far-fetched. 

Hospitals, restaurants, and hotels are starting to use Silicon Valley operating models and technologies — we’ll soon see these in our communities. One CEO of a 20+ community brand recently deconstructed Time Magazine’s automation report looking for ways incorporate some practices in our setting. Several communities in our space have tested some of these models already.

Let’s start with the backend stuff — and then move into the resident-facing areas in Part 2 of this article.


EMR. The vast majority of our SNFs are now on PCC or MatrixCare electronic medical records (EMRs). A bunch of ALFs are getting on EMRs too. Pretty soon, laborious tasks like medication reconciliation, ordering, and incident spotting can be semi-automated.

Deliveries and Trash

TUG and STARSHIP. The Skype (and Kazaa file sharing) founders started Starship, to deliver food. UCSF is using the TUG system — some are cutely named Wall-E and Tuggie McFresh — to take out trash and make deliveries. They even talk a little: “Please don’t push TUG into the elevator.” Each one works 10+ hours per day and cuts down on the manual labor needed so providers can focus on patient care.


ZUME. The kitchen is a perfect spot to automate, especially as recruiting for chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers is so tough. In a previous post, we wrote about how ZUME is automating pizza making with Italian-sounding named machines putting tomato sauce on pizzas perfectly and putting them into the oven (avoiding worker burns and other injuries). Creator Hamburgers has an online waiting list to get a number to go get a hamburger. Specialties Cafe next door is probably jealous of their crowds.


KNIGHT. In a previous post, I talked about how shocked I was to see a Knight patrolling my local Shell gas station. In my CCRC, I had a crew of 4-5 security guards. Instead, could I use 1 guard to watch 2-3 Knights and 1 guard to respond in person to nightly emergencies?

Many say robotics is cold and far-fetched — but I think it’s awesome in freeing staff from boring laborious tasks. I did NOT want to walk the 2M square feet of my CCRC just to deliver a set of keys to someone at 11:30 pm!) so our talented team members could continue doing what they love (i.e., spending time delighting residents).

What do you think?