by Andrew Smith
30 November 2017

Woman Adjusting Thermostat

Whether you are looking for employment or an assisted living apartment, there are many things to consider when touring senior living communities. Most folks are concerned with location, services, dining, activities and staff-quality. However, I think most people overlook and undervalue the critical role technology plays in the success of a community. Whether it is for safety or socialization, technology like high speed internet, remote monitoring sensors, cameras and smart doors (just to name a few) all drive a meaningful enhancement for the resident, family and employee experience.  

Customer Expectations

Residents and their families continue to expect high quality staff and a safe and secure environment. Despite all the hand-wringing over the changing expectations of Boomers, consumer values haven’t fundamentally changed. However, due to the way people transact business in other parts of their lives, the expectations of how those values are delivered, have changed dramatically. We expect transparency, ease of use, and instant access to information. Technology is critical in delivering on these expectations.

Employee Expectations

The competitive labor market is another reason senior living providers should pay attention to technology. My first job was as a dishwasher in a single-location barbecue restaurant. They now have an online application and mobile-enabled scheduling system for call-offs and shift management. This is not a millennial-driven phenomenon. People expect employers to give them the tools to do their job and easy access to the information they need to do it well. New graduates from nursing school expect electronic records and have likely never seen a paper medication administration record (MAR). Technology is what employees expect.

Partner Expectations

Lastly, consider the expectations of partners, especially clinical referral sources. Use your numbers to your advantage when generating business at local physician practices. Today, practices want to see de-identified reports of your clinical outcomes. Without strong digital documentation and reporting, partners are likely to take their business elsewhere.

Putting it all together

All the critical stakeholders in senior living expect a level of technological maturity the industry currently fails to meet. At Brookdale, we pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve. We regularly pilot and scale technology that fits the ever-changing needs of the senior population. We invite innovators to participate in our Entrepreneur in Residence program so they have the opportunity to trial their products with their target demographic. We partner with national technology leaders, like Lyft and Hasbro, to get their products in the hands of our residents. iPad’s classes are offered in our communities so residents can watch old movies on YouTube, visit their childhood home on Google Earth, and talk with their grandchildren on FaceTime. But we still have strides to make.

I am interested in your thoughts on the topic. Do you have technology in your senior living community? What’s worked for you and what do you want to see in the future. Leave me a note in the comments.


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