Senior Living Q&A

By on Apr 28, 2020 in People

How can technology help senior living providers overcome their biggest challenges?

Ray Elliott

To get the answer, Senior Housing News (SHN) recently interviewed our own Ray Elliott, vice president of senior living at Yardi, as part of their Voices series. The content program, which we’re a sponsor of, asks executive leaders for their insights on trends, topics and issues that are shaping the industry.

With almost two decades at Yardi, Ray has extensive experience working on software solutions for property management, initially supporting Yardi’s public housing product before taking charge of senior living. He’s seen how technology has grown in both sectors, transforming business as usual in powerful ways.

Read on for an excerpt from Ray’s interview with SHN:

What do you see as the most impactful way a property management platform such as Yardi can move the needle for senior living providers?

Yardi goes beyond just being a property management platform. If you look at our history, that was where the company started, but today we do much more than that. We provide an end-to-end solution that our clients can use from the first engagement with a prospect all the way up through the care of residents.

With the Yardi Senior Living Suite, everything is automated. If you’re using our CRM (customer relationship management), and you enter prospect data, details about that individual will make it through the sales cycle. When they end up in your community, you’re able to see everything in our EHR (electronic health record) product, down to their hobbies and interests.

All that information flows automatically. Nobody has to transcribe it. Nobody has to enter it again. There isn’t a risk of that information being lost. It’s that sort of value-add that helps move the needle for providers. It helps them see the whole picture and provide better service.

What is something senior living can learn from one of these other property types that you’ve worked in?

Good question. One lesson I’ve learned is you shouldn’t underestimate the adoption of technology by the consumer or by the residents. In our public housing product, we have portals for people to go online to gather information or submit documents. Oftentimes, there was skepticism as to whether they would take those steps.

We found that to not be true at all. They were using it and adopting it — and even expecting it. That’s been true in senior living as well. There’s some hesitation: “Would residents adopt technology?” They have and they do.

From a management perspective, what do you see as the biggest challenge for senior living providers in 2020? And what is the best way for providers to combat that challenge?

This one is clear. It’s COVID-19. In a matter of a month, it has turned into a challenge that everyone is focused on. In terms of being able to combat it, we should take it seriously and be diligent about following the advice of experts.

There’s a lot of information out there, but the experts are speaking, and they’re consistent. We’re well advised to follow what they’re saying.

I know for Yardi, this has been an opportunity to reevaluate our own processes, to be innovative in terms of searching for solutions, such as our user conferences that happen twice a year. Unfortunately, we have canceled the in-person event that was taking place in Washington D.C. We’re going to do it instead as a digital conference and use it as a way for us all to gather together and share information.

As for other challenges — and this probably sounds like a broken record — but staffing and retention continue to be major challenges that providers are thinking about.

Some simple things they can do are to understand how their peers in senior living and those in other industries are dealing with this and adopt behaviors that have been successful. For instance, the hospitality industry faces these challenges, so it’s good to look at what they’re doing and how they’re addressing it.

Other providers that don’t have such a problem with staffing have good retention. What are the habits that they’re forming? And while it’s always good to look at what others are doing, don’t be afraid to be creative. Try new things and see what might be successful. Even if some don’t work out, some might. See if you can figure out some of those solutions.

Read the entire interview on SHN.