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SHN BUILD: Data Analytics in Business Operations and Resident Care

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This article is sponsored by Sentrics. This article is based on a discussion with Rick Taylor, EVP Strategic Development at Sentrics and Joe Jasmon, Managing Partner at American Healthcare Management Group. This discussion originally took place on November 15, 2023 during the SHN BUILD Conference. The article below has been edited for length and clarity.

Senior Housing News: Joe, could you start by giving a little bit of background about yourself?

Joe Jasmon: I’m the CEO of American Healthcare Management Group and co-founder of Elevate Senior Living. Elevate is a middle-market, ground-up design-build project that we put together to address the needs of the individual human being, but also to address the needs of the 16 million seniors that can’t afford to be in the high-end business.

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Could you talk a little bit about how your organization is utilizing technology to impact the resident experience and also to improve staff efficiency on the other side of the coin?

Jasmon: We have integrated technology into every aspect of the experience. We utilize technology to teach and train both staff and residents to track their movements, to help them coordinate their schedule and to track their safety. We know where our residents are at all times, we know where our staff is at all times. We utilize the Sentrics Engage, Ensure and Enrich360 programs to maximize the benefits. The key is making sure you don’t lose the personal touch, so we’re not so focused that everybody’s got their heads down on a screen. We utilize that to allow us more opportunity to spend one-on-one and face-to-face with our residents and families, a more inefficient system.

In terms of some of the data that you’re collecting and how you’re then using that from the technology platforms that you are utilizing, how can those data analytics be used to improve quality of care and what types of data are you finding most relevant in senior living?

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Jasmon: It allows us to monitor and track behavioral patterns, movement patterns, resident likes and dislikes, and more closely fine-tune the experience around what they want, specifically around mealtimes. We can track whether they want to eat in their neighborhood or at a restaurant and how often they want to eat there.

It also allows us the opportunity to track an active resident that, all of a sudden, becomes inactive. We notice that very quickly. That could be a sign of something wrong with the resident. They could have a UTI or a change in condition and alert us directly to them. We identify that quickly so we can address things more on the spot rather than after something bad happens, so more pre-empting us to identify differences and changes in patterns.

How can data analytics then be used to enhance operational efficiency, or what’s the experience of staff with the data analytics?

Taylor: Data has always been seen as rows and columns from a single source solution instead of being able to compile multiple solutions together to give you a true picture of what’s happening. Changing from rows and columns of data, asking people to, for lack of better term, read tea leaves on what’s going on, is to give you actionable insights to what’s happening.

Instead of asking people to spend a lot of time crunching data, a true analytics platform is serving it up to you to make you more efficient.

Jasmon: I think I would add, that only impacts us both in the peripheral data which is that the data I call that’s around the experience, so that enhances the experience, getting us to point A. Then the internal experience that is individualized to the person where we use a lot of technology tools that help us get the person moved in to guide through the marketing strategy that prompts and records things to make it more efficient.

We utilize that data peripherally, but on the inside, what Rick was referring to is we utilize that data to not only improve quality of life, but to create opportunities for us and to improve the product that we’re delivering based upon how we see, number one, we’re interacting with the residents and the families and then how our technology is enhancing or hindering that at some times. It also gives us the opportunity to make adjustments on the fly based on real data.

As a follow-up to that, Joe, are there any types of overarching metrics that you’ve been tracking to understand the effectiveness of data analytics at the community level? Are there any real-world examples you could share?

Jasmon: The key things like tracking whether or not the resident is participating in meals. How often, what the frequency is, are they skipping a certain meal on a regular basis? What’s their hydration or liquid intake from those perspectives? Are they in certain activities, whether they’re sedentary activities or active activities, to give us an idea of how they’re living physically both from what they put in their body and how they’re moving around within their body are incredibly important as far as sort of day-to-day life of the residents.

On the peripheral side of it, it’s understanding key things like how many tours does it take to get somebody to move in, and how many inquiries does it take to move the needle from a census perspective. Then what are the actual interactions that our sales staff are having with potential residents or potential resident families? We can actually listen to those and fine-tune what the message is from there.

A couple questions on implementing these types of analytics and data collection on the privacy and security side. What kinds of considerations are there for you?

Jasmon: It’s a very secure, what I would consider, internal system. We have the ability to allow family members to interact with the system, but we can restrict their access to only things related to their loved ones, and so the data is pretty secure, pretty pristine, as well as how we’re utilizing it. It’s not really broadcast externally for the most part. Obviously, there’s always some risk that someone could hack into something and find somebody’s data, but them being able to interpret it the way we interpret it and identify the exact person and all of those types of things is going to be pretty rare from that perspective.

The other thing is it is different from an electronic health record system that you would see in a big hospital system with all kinds of surgical and lab tests. A majority of the data that we’re collecting is more lifestyle-related. How they’re dealing with their activities of daily living. Yes, there’s some medication information but it doesn’t go into a lot of diagnosis other than in the care plan component.

Taylor: Obviously, everybody is concerned about those topics and every day it becomes a larger topic, but us as a supplier of those analytics to the industry, it has the highest importance to us. When we’re partnering with the folks, because we’re not creating the server farm that we’re using to house this data, we’re using companies, and so you’re looking at companies like Amazon, etc., to be able to help you solidify that security.

Then also, the way in which you encrypt data, on our end to ensure that it’s just not meaningful to anybody on a regular basis is just part of the process today. From a Sentrics perspective, we’re not sharing medical information. It’s a social determinant of health.

How can senior living facilities involve residents and their families in the data analytics process and decision-making? Joe, maybe you could touch on that first if that’s something that you’ve done in your communities.

Jasmon: I think that making sure that you are fully engaging your families into what’s happening with their loved ones and utilizing those analytics could be both utilized as a positive, “Hey, this is what’s happening with your mom today,” or, “Look, she’s doing all of these different activities and she’s up and about being active.” Also a little bit of a defensive strategy, if someone comes in and says their mom or dad hasn’t eaten in four days and no one’s come and seen them in four hours. You can pull up the data analytics and show them the interactions that we’ve had with their loved ones. What food they’ve had, how often they’ve been assessed or addressed from a care staff standpoint, when their laundry is done, all of those types of things. The connection by inviting them into a portal, if you will, to see that data in real time is also beneficial.

Understand that it’s a double-edged sword because you have some people have a look at it every day and try to find that aha moment and try to catch you not doing something exactly the way that they would like it, but I’m more a fan of that transparency and being proactive in communicating the information around their loved one or the data around their loved one. It also then benefits us from them, perhaps, seeing something that is a change in their loved one’s behavior that they could bring up.

Taylor: I’ll just speak from my own experience. I’ve had both of my mom and dad in senior living. Having the experience that I have in being in this industry for 25-plus years, you know the good that we do. However, as my parents went through the different stages of their health and they moved from different levels, from independent living to assisted living to skilled and memory care, I didn’t get the information about what was going on.

I didn’t know what my parents were participating in each day, I didn’t know what they were eating. My mom, when she was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, she would tell me that, very similar to Joe, “Well, they don’t feed us here,” or, “They ran out of food.” Well, I know they didn’t run out of food, but I can only take what my mother says, right? She says, “Well, they haven’t let us down to the dining room in three days.”

If I didn’t know this industry, I would be asking lots of questions of that community. If I could just share the data showing that my mom only spends eight or nine hours a day in her room because that’s when she’s sleeping at night and taking a nap during the day, if she’s out and I see her in the dining room, that just changes the game. If I have access to the menu very easily, I can look it up when I’m talking to mom on the phone and be like, “Hey, mom, tonight for dinner they have your favorite.” Right? “They have lasagna on the menu,” and we can prepare mom’s thought process and brain to be excited for that meal instead of not eating.

When the family is involved, it makes a better experience for the resident, for the family member, and honestly, for the operators inside the community as well. That family being part of the caregiving team is important in understanding what’s going on and understanding the change Joe just talked about. Instead of pushing back on Joe, understanding that, and if you have the data and the information to be able to share that, it changes the dynamics.

Jasmon: We utilize volunteers and family members in our staffing mix as well as we’ve created a family booster club just like you would in your kids’ school where they get actively involved in the community and become part of it. We actually give them assignments and projects as well, so it changes the overall dynamic of the environment in the community, but also changes that outlook on senior living and turns it upside down by saying we’re not moving your resident, your loved ones, into our community and closing the doors. We’re actually moving them in and inviting the outside world in. That starts with the families and folks in the local community as well.

Where are we headed next from here in terms of all of this data access that we now have? What are some of the key trends or emerging technologies that you’re seeing? How might this shape the future?

Taylor: I would say that where we are headed is not necessarily about smart devices but about smart environments. To take one step back on what it means from the family perspective, I do believe that the industry as a whole will get comfortable in sharing some of this data to the outside world which they’ve, in my 25 years, haven’t been willing to share unless pressed, but I do think that we will start to see a larger consortium of operators start to share that information externally with the outside world to not only talk to them about what they’re doing with that family member directly to the families but also use it in a manner to help from a sales and marketing perspective.

As we see Medicare Advantage get more and more involved in our industry, I think they’ll use it to prove outcomes which will get them either revenue or higher census.

Joe where are we headed in some of these emerging technologies, or are there any you’d like to see?

Jasmon: Yes, I believe that we will start seeing a larger influx, in 5 or 10 years from now, of assisted devices that can be utilized to help residents get up and out of bed. Also, an assistance device that’s helped them move and to walk around. You’ve seen a lot of exoskeletons for those folks that can’t walk, having them put that on, then they can walk again, to help prevent falls. I also see a large portion of medication passes and meal preparation being done without people involved, just on the periphery. One reason is to prevent medical errors and the second reason is to be way more efficient and having those things directed from a pharmacy, from afar. We’ve already seen that in a couple of places right now where there are pharmacy machines just like you would see in a hospital setting in senior living environments where the information is delivered, put in the machine, and the machine dispenses the medications versus a nurse and the med tech, so I see things like that happening.

I’m actually looking forward to some of those because I think helping our residents with their mobility in a more effective way than the old-fashioned wheelchair walker concept, as well as making the medication pass safer, would be a huge positive for all of us.

Taylor: Technology isn’t really there to replace people in this industry. It can replace people in other places, but in this industry, it’s about the human touch and so that’s always going to be a huge part of this industry. Where we use technology is to take those people that are on that floor and allow them to be more productive and do more with less.

We know that it’s been hard to find caregivers over the last couple of years. Hopefully, that starts to change. aBut if not, we have to prepare to be able to do more with less employees inside these communities and how do we use technology to allow them to be able to do that. I think that’s the key from a technology perspective. Not necessarily to replace people.

The Sentrics suite of data-driven solutions helps families, senior living communities, and healthcare providers deliver the highest quality of care and a more personalized experience for seniors and patients. To learn more, visit: https://sentrics.net/.

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