The senior living industry is trending toward pre-pandemic norms — or at least, its priorities in technology are.
That’s according to a new report from Chicago-based investment bank Ziegler. The report, released Monday, includes responses from representatives of more than 150 organizations.
The new report identifies top areas of investment and lends evidence to the fact that while the rate of technology spending hasn’t dramatically changed, areas of investment have, according to Ziegler Senior Living Research Director Lisa McCracken.
“While there have been some organizations upping their overall commitment to technology investment, in general, we just see shifting of how the dollars are spent. The pandemic years of 2020 through 2022 are evidence of that,” McCracken said.
Almost three-quarters of respondents (74%) reported investing in high-speed connectivity. More than half (54%) said they are investing in EHR or EMR systems, while 51% reported investing in electronic point-of-care service documentation. A little under half of the respondents reported making IT investments around workforce or staffing scheduling systems, and the same percentage said the same about wander management systems.
Those investment areas looked much different than the pandemic’s early days in 2020, when 75% of executives reported investments in video conferencing capabilities; 71% reported bolstered internet infrastructure; 57% invested in social networking, 45% invested in infection control.
“Investment in tech has been shifting buckets — with more resources targeting service subscriptions and less capital need for hardware and devices,” wrote one anonymous survey respondent.
One growing investment area in senior living is in so-called “tech concierges.” That is partly reflected within the survey, which saw 40% of executive respondents saying they’ve invested in technical support for residents compared to 29% in 2020.
Prior to 2020, executives reported investing in video conferencing at a far slower rate, ranging from 21% in 2018 to 29% for both 2012 and 2014. Resident access to internet and social networks returned to pre-pandemic levels with 41% of respondent executives reporting resident-focused social media support, compared to 57% in 2020 and 48% in 2016.
In 2022, resident health was also top of mind for operators as 19% of those surveyed invested in brain health and cognitive simulation technologies, along with 16% of executives reported investment in medication management technologies.
Staffing issues have long-plagued operators, but they evolved in 2020 with the pandemic. That resulted in an increase in care coordination and staffing tech investment, with 23% of executives reporting investments in health IT solutions and 16% investing in shared care planning and care coordination tools.
Since 2020, investment in automation and artificial intelligence is also on the rise, with 33% of executives reporting investment in AI-driven data tools and 20% in robotics.