Promoting Health Sharing

Electronic health records, or EHRs, have evolved into a necessity over the past few years in the senior living industry. In fact, a LeadingAge study in 2019 found that nearly 76% of the nation’s 200 largest nonprofit, multi-site senior living organizations use EHRs, as do the majority of single-campus senior living communities. EHRs enable care staff to chart and document residents’ medications and transitions between care settings in real time. Along with this efficiency, notes PharMerica, a pharmacy services provider for the senior living industry, senior community operators “are finding that EHR can help do things like boost occupancy and profitability. And vendors are finding easier to promote EHR benefits around greater resident engagement, streamlined workflow and reduced staff turnover.” Additional benefits of EHRs include facilitating Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and ensuring compliance. Interoperability is crucial There’s yet another dimension to EHRs. Senior Housing News reports that some providers adopting EHRs “are actually going a step further to connect those EHRs to larger networks in the interest of electronically sharing information with doctors, hospitals or other clinicians.” Making such exchanges securely across multiple systems requires connection to a service provider for health information exchanges, or HIEs. “It’s only a matter of time before mounting state and federal pressure to connect EHRs to HIEs becomes too difficult for senior living providers to ignore,” the news source reports. Some in the industry are still playing catch-up. Clinical information is still often shared via fax, phone or printouts, opening the door to mistakes and omissions. And patients often receive paper medical records when they are discharged, creating additional opportunities for documentation errors and impeded care coordination. “The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the importance of interoperability and the ease in which clinical information needs to be available to an entire healthcare community,” says Jon Elwell, CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz. interoperability provider Kno2. “We cannot rely on paper fax for this important task.” Creating seamless transitions Going forward, the need for interoperability among acute care, private practice, skilled nursing and other healthcare partners will spur the development additional for care transition and coordination. That means “seamless care transitions and sharing of critical patient information between the senior living community and the providers participating in their care, improving coordination and reducing administrative burden from a historically manual process,” Elwell says. Once implemented, this interoperability will spur “increased efficiency and quality outcomes, improved ability to avoid adverse events and timely access to information from your patients’ other providers,” according to the Minnesota Department of Health. “Creating shared care plans and following up on the execution of those plans to optimize outcomes, reduce length of stay, or eliminate unnecessary hospital admissions via HIE will be key,” adds Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology and executive director of the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies, an advocate for technologies that improve the aging experience. Yardi’s contribution to EHR interoperability includes a partnership with Kno2®, whose Interoperability as a Service™ drives connectivity for health data networks. Interoperability as a Service’s integration with Yardi EHR lets Yardi clients electronically send and receive health data, ensuring safer clinical care transitions. Look to The Balance Sheet for more updates on the continuing evolution of EHR capabilities, which PharMerica says have the potential to “revolutionize the way seniors are treated and cared for in the years to come.” For more on Yardi’s electronic health record solution for senior living, visit the Yardi EHR product...

Assisted Evolution

Assisted living facilities, which fill a need for seniors who don’t need nursing homes but can’t live independently, are a mainstay of senior care. The American Health Care Assn./National Center for Assisted Living counts nearly 1 million licensed beds in about 28,900 communities in the U.S. But even as assisted living holds stature as the fastest growing residential housing for older Americans, it may surprise some to learn that this model didn’t assume its present-day form until the 1980s. The roots of assisted living in America can be traced at least as far back as 1713 with the founding of an organization designed to care for seniors in Philadelphia. Foster homes and group homes became the norm later in the century when family members couldn’t care for a senior loved one. By the mid-1800s, religious and fraternal groups opened nonprofit homes for seniors, the genesis of the modern care system. Hundreds of nonprofit old-age homes were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with many adding hospitals, staff homes and other structures as their populations grew. Urbanization and tuberculosis epidemics helped spur state and local governments to develop institutions that provided chronic care. Nursing care in homes also became popular, with the number of visiting nurse agencies more than doubling from 1909 to 1924. By the middle of the 20th century, advances in medicines such as penicillin, the expansion of various assistance payments, and the exodus of men and women from the home during World War II were among the factors that prompted the further development of care facilities, including boarding homes for seniors. The private nursing home industry debuted in 1950, serving 270,000 people by 1954. That year, Congress provided funds to nonprofit organizations for the construction of skilled nursing facilities that met certain...

EHR Interfaces

Yardi has a long history of providing interface solutions that enable its clients to exchange information with third-party vendors of solutions for applicant screening, online billing payments, renters insurance, service requests and many other business requests. That interoperability extends to senior housing community operators who wish to connect with ancillary operations solution providers. Interfaces allow third-party partners and Yardi EHR users to exchange information seamlessly and securely. Operators can utilize standard interfaces to connect senior living integration partners. Also, operators can optimize care transitions and enable the secure flow of information to and from EHR. Among Yardi’s interface partners for senior living is eMenuCHOICE, a St. Paul, Minn.-based dining management and point of sale application for senior living communities. Other providers that Yardi has welcomed as senior living interface collaborators include abxtracker, which specializes in antibiotic and infection tracking control solutions; Healthconnex, a leading provider of software used for infection prevention and control; and Kno2, which creates centralized accounts that enable efficient and HIPAA-compliant exchanges of resident documents. The list of Yardi senior living interfaces continues to grow. Created in some cases as a result of client requests, the added partnerships will enhance interoperability in such operations as vital signs and weight monitoring, nurse calls and...

Senior Living Ebook

Online searches have become the favored route for seniors seeking a residential community. That’s why senior living community operators increasingly turn to search engine optimization (SEO) to help prospective residents find their properties. A powerful tool supporting that effort is RENTCafé Reach Senior Living, an advanced online marketing services solution that enables execution of SEO plus pay-per-click advertising, social media posting and reputation management from a single platform. Yardi is spreading the word about this platform and the online marketing experts who support it with a new ebook, titled “4 Ways to Get Found Online.” The publication illustrates how RENTCafé Reach Senior Living: Creates an exceptional online presence that fills vacancies. Increases traffic with optimized content that positions communities for maximum search visibility. Drives leads with impactful ad campaigns, managed by AdWords specialists. Keeps pace with Google’s algorithm changes. Formulates and executes a full marketing plan tailored to a community’s goals. Engages prospects with curated social media local content and boosted posts. Strengthens reputation control by monitoring and responding to online reviews. As the ebook says, “The right digital marketing strategy makes all the difference, but building out a plan – and sticking to it – takes dedicated resources, consistent research and lots of elbow grease.” Read it to discover how RENTCafé Reach Senior Living makes the process much easier and...

Tips for Thriving

The senior housing industry is taking steps to transitioning from the COVID-19 era with policies that emphasize safety and resident service. Nicole Moberg, COO of Atlanta-based Thrive Senior Living, offers insight into successfully marketing senior communities during and after the pandemic. Below are excerpts from her recent interview with Multi-Housing News. How has the outbreak impacted Thrive Senior Living communities? Moberg: From early on, we were one of the first senior living communities to prioritize testing—backing our belief that every resident and team member should be tested as often as possible for the safety of the residents as well as our community. We also developed the “Take Off to Thrive” marketing concept, with a 30-day new resident communication checklist. This served to minimize resident isolation and loneliness and even included an adapted red carpet “landing day/move-in” experience. We view our communities as the safest place to be [with our] proper training and education, personal protective equipment, disinfection procedures and aggressive COVID-19 testing programs. How have your marketing strategies changed? Moberg: We pivoted by creating COVID-19 sales strategies including altering our messaging to focus more on care and safety and how we can help people during challenging times. Digitally, we worked to bring on a chief storyteller who showed a behind-the-scenes look at Thrive culture, created a YouTube channel to share online content to increase awareness when families could not visit and increased online presence as we allocated more toward digital spend to drive more traffic to our website. We saw increased sales throughout the pandemic with safely executed event activity. What role does technology play in your marketing? Moberg: We sourced a new video app that allows us to send videos to prospects as a follow-up; a platform to enhance virtual tours; a “thank you”...

Expanding Entertainment...

Many senior living community operators are finding creative new ways to broaden their residents’ entertainment and activity options. In fact, Forbes reported in November 2020, entertainment has emerged as a marketing differentiator. “Many [seniors] are sharpening their focus on independent-living communities that not only provide creature comforts and an aesthetically pleasing brick-and-mortar living environment, but hospitality-inspired entertainment, trips and outings enabling highly-sought connections. Saying, in effect, ‘Let us entertain you,’ is good business for senior living communities.” That’s why “savvy senior communities are emphasizing the delivery of socially focused programming to bring mature adults together in fun, entertaining and educational ways once they’re safely able to drop the masks and rub shoulders again.” Even before the lockdown, “many retirement communities [were] stepping up to the challenge and redefining what fun looks like,” according to Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Communities. “If you were used to hosting get-togethers with friends and family, there’s no reason for that to change after moving to a senior living community,” said Brad Kraus, the company’s president and chief executive officer. “Those of us in charge of planning entertainment need to focus on designing activities that are elevated, purposeful and the entire family can experience.” Spectrum once sponsored a nationwide gingerbread house design competition with residents, team members and family members. One community in Texas came up with 3-foot-tall creation made of 600 sugar cookies, six buckets of frosting and 30 pounds of candy. Another in Colorado created  Pike’s Peak facsimile. Spectrum residents have also participated in volunteer activities involving pet shelters, waste reduction programs and homeless support, among others, “Why not make it possible for residents to continue giving back to the community with their family by their side?” Kraus says. “It’s our job to create that possibility. We want to...

Aspire Available

Yardi Aspire gives senior living community operators the tools to train their staffs in everything from software skills and compliance to company policies and career development. The system’s convenient on-demand course content and documents help teams work more productively and efficiently. What training topics can be covered through Aspire? Everything from clinical skills, safety, new employee orientation and health records compliance to leadership, time management, software applications and more. As an added benefit, users seeking to customize training can build their own content and add pre-built videos. Equally important, users can create, maintain and administer courses without adding IT resources. The system also accommodates courses from other learning management systems while offering convenient esignature and employee survey capabilities as well as collection functionality for other types of surveys. “Aspire projects energy, forward focus and confidence. When employees feel those emotions at work, they are positioned to gain career skills and make a difference in their organizations. That’s exactly what Aspire brings to our clients through its broad scope of features,” says Terri Dowen, senior vice president of sales for Yardi. Learn more about how Aspire can pave the way for better community management for residents, operators and family...

Online Marketing

Knowing what not to do is as important as understanding what should be done. That’s a key takeaway from a new Yardi ebook designed to help senior living communities market their offerings effectively. “8 Do’s & Don’ts for Senior Living Community Websites” offers tips for sprucing up digital curb appeal, maximizing the impact of a website’s most visited pages and more. The list of “dos” includes showing multiple views of a floor plan, helping prospects identify the unit that meets their needs and boosting traffic by sharing images on social media. The “don’ts” address rising above a bad user experience, avoiding inferior photography, not expecting photos to speak for themselves and resisting the impulse to mimic competitors. Looking for new ways to use your marketing website to make your senior living community both more visible and more appealing to prospective residents? Read the ebook for all the do’s and don’ts of getting those prospects to your page and into your...

Validus Senior Living...

Lindsey Hacker is the CFO of Tampa, Fla.-based Validus Senior Living, which manages facilities for independent living, assisted living and memory care in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Hacker joined Validus in 2017. Here she offers insight into the twin challenges of providing exceptional care while innovating. The following is excerpted from an interview published in Multi-Housing News. How have you been ensuring the safety of residents and staff since the onset of the health crisis? What changes do you expect to be temporary and what is here to stay? Hacker: Like most of the world, our entire operating model needed to shift very quickly to ensure the safety of our residents and teams. Mask usage, hand hygiene, social distancing and personal protective equipment are now second nature. We screen all associates and any vendors or visitors and take their temperatures prior to allowing entrance to the building. Our cleaning process and solutions changed to using nontoxic chemicals against COVID-19 and performing more frequent cleaning. We added ultraviolet light technology, which is not common in assisted living. These UV light cabinets give our teams the ability to sanitize and disinfect items in less than 5 minutes—perfect for high-touch items like keys, phones, eyewear and our iCare technology devices. I think the pandemic has made us have a stronger focus on all aspects of infection prevention, so although we are hopeful we will not have to remain 6 feet apart, many of the other precautions will remain. Now that vaccines have become available, how is Validus approaching the vaccination process? Hacker: We are approaching it with education, positive reinforcement and role modeling. For our residents, we are seeing very high participation rates, which is very encouraging and not completely surprising since this generation saw polio...