In Caremerge’s first Trailblazers in Senior Living installment, Asif Khan, Caremerge Founder/CEO and Andrew Smith, Brookdale’s Director of Strategy & Innovation discuss Technology’s Impact on Generational Relationships.

Today’s featured question is: How do you keep track/prioritize of all this technology?

 You can also watch the interview in its entirety.

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You can also read the transcript below.

Asif Khan:  Now we talked a little bit about connecting generations, isolation and all those types of things, and I’m pretty sure you come across a tremendous amount of technology, which we talked about like, “Hey, check this out or check that out,” and whether it’s isolations focused or whether it’s some other technology that’s solving some other problem, sticking to bridging generational gaps through technology. There are tremendous amount of innovation going on in the industry and senior living, and in healthcare in general. We always hear about besides community, besides the senior living. We talk about patient engagement and physician engagement, and those types of things.

 How do you keep track of this all [this technology]? You probably have hundreds of these companies coming and you’re like scratching your head. “How do I even begin? How do we prioritize this stuff?” Because that’s a big, I think, challenge in our industry where people want to innovate. People listening here they want to innovate. They want to bring in new experiences. They want to bring new technology to improve the experience of the residents and families and staff, and be better with data and all that fancy stuff. We all hear about, but I think the biggest problem that everybody is facing is, “How do I go about it? How do I prioritize?” I’d love to hear some thoughts from you. How do you prioritize this stuff?

Andrew Smith: Yeah. We have a joke saying on our team that says, “If opportunity were a food, we’re not at risk of starving to death. We’re at risk of choking to death.” So prioritization is very important. The thing we always have to go back to is, “What’s the real need of our residents or our associates or our family members and how do we keep laser focused on what their need is?” Because it’s really easy to get excited about the new, sexy technology, but if we stay grounded in what are those residents’ needs, then we can make sure that we’re prioritizing first what’s going to serve their need and then how does it help our associates and family members as well? I think one of those needs back to the social isolation question is there’s a lot of variability in our residents and I think in seniors in general in their technology acumen, how smart they are with technology.

We found that to be a real challenge any time that we’re introducing a new technology or trying to talk to residents about technology. You get some folks who are completely shut out of this wonderful world of access to content and experiences, and connection.

We call them digital shut ins and it’s been a real issue so what we’ve tried to do is educate all residents about technology. Put in the basic infrastructure because that’s another important thing. Even if you do prioritize what residents need and want, in order to deliver on it, you have to have a basic foundational infrastructure in the first place.

Asif Khan: That infrastructure also includes not only technology or the wi-fi but, also, procedures and policies, and mechanism, and processes, and people.

Andrew Smith: I mean, there’s a policy in most senior living communities, I would suspect, that caregivers and other community associates should not have their cell phone on them during the day.

I think that policy comes from a well-meaning place of wanting to make sure that they’re focused on the resident and they’re not focused on texting somebody that they friends with or their loved one, but it also means that we’re not giving them access to a world of tools right at their fingertips.

I think when we struggle with this, and I think the whole industry struggles with this is getting updating those policies to align with, “What’s the infrastructure we need to really address those resident needs?”

Asif Khan: Right and I think that’s a very good point because I’m going to tie this point to something you made early, which is having Facetime or access to content or Google Earth. Let’s say I’m a caregiver and I’m sitting down and talking to a resident and they talk about, “You know, this World War II when I was a fighter pilot.” “Oh, what planes did you fly?” “Oh, I flew that plane,” or some kind of plane. “Oh, let me see if I can find that.” What a wonderful way to make that person’s day just by showing them. “Is this the plane you were in?” You have a whole … I mean, you can talk about that plane for an hour or more than an hour. The whole day could go by. The point, I guess, is those simple touchpoints or, to your point, if I have a phone or a smart tablet or wi-fi connect, that just helps me understand that person better, and connect because the next time because, obviously, they’re like our family and they’re living there.

 We are providing care. We’re engaging with them. We’re working together and it’s so important to have that connection and you cannot have personal connection without something that ties you with some historical event because that’s how we are.

Asif Khan: Why are we so connected to our families? Well because we were born in that family. We were raised in a certain religion and we were grown up in a certain way, but the people who come later in our lives they connect us because we went to the same fraternity. We went to the same college. We have something in common and that peace that brings the warm feeling. Right?

Andrew Smith: Yeah. You need shared experiences in order to have connection and technology allows you to open up that world of shared experiences.

Asif Khan: Right. Yeah. Again, I think the most exciting part about this, our first Trailblazer Discussion, really personally is that we are really identifying very simple things that anybody can do. You just have to put a little bit of effort into it. It’s not rocket science. You don’t have to buy anything new. Just tiny, little things you can change and it can really bring a totally different perspective in your community and bring a different type of energy all of a sudden.

Andrew Smith: Yeah, totally agree.


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