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How to Manage New Technology in Your Senior Care Community

Managing technology in senior careHow do you feel about change? Bill Murray’s character in the movie “Groundhog Day,” stuck as he was in an endlessly repeating day, eventually comes to appreciate that “Anything different is good.” At the other end of the spectrum, as Robert Kennedy once observed, “Change has its enemies.” Change is always happening, everywhere, all the time. We may not like it, but it’s there, always percolating. That’s not a bad thing. After all, were it not for change we might still be living in caves and chasing dinner down with pointy sticks.

But while change is good, dealing with change on an organizational level can be challenging. The people in your senior care community get used to doing things a certain way, and have grown accustomed to a particular flow. When things happen to change that flow, people notice. When adopting new technology, this is more apparent than ever.

The introduction of new technology changes the way people work. New technology replaces the “old” ways of doing things. Technology replaces paper, manual processes and cumbersome touch points with a new streamlined and automated way of doing things. The change that comes along with technology is for the better – whether it’s for greater productivity or to drive revenue or to improve the way care is delivered to patients and residents in senior living communities. Nonetheless, it’s still change.

When adopting new technology, consider the following tips so employees on all levels can more effectively manage the change that comes along with it.

  1. Communicate – Effective communication requires a plan, something a bit more thought out than a memo tacked to a bulletin board in the staff lounge. But don’t worry, the components of that plan aren’t complicated. First, what’s your message? You need to distill the information about the technology and associated processes into a clear, concise, coherent message. Who will be affected? How will they be affected? Be straightforward, communicate in advance, and be sure to highlight why the technology is being introduced. No one likes surprises. The clearer you are upfront, the fewer headaches you will have as the changes unfold.
  2. Appoint a Champion – The most successful implementations I have seen are driven by an internal champion who has management support. The champion is accountable for the success of the initiative. The champion should have appropriate authority to oversee the program and, yes, make changes when needed. This person is the face of the initiative and coordinates among stakeholders and all levels within the organization. An effective champion has their finger on the pulse of the roll-out and how the transition to the technology is affecting users and employees, so the organization can stay on top of the impact of change and ensure success.
  3. Measure Success – Be sure to establish key measures from the outset of your initiative. Benchmark your current state prior to rolling out new technology so you can effectively track progress. Set goals at different stages of implementation so you can clearly see progress. In addition, be sure to account for anecdotal and qualitative measures, especially in the beginning. These are additional inputs that can help round out your measures of success.
  4. Cross-Train – With sky-high employee turnover rates in long-term care and senior living, you must be prepared for change. Cross-training multiple employees is a good idea in order to minimize the risk that can happen when a key employee leaves. Virtual and on-demand training can help get new users up to speed quickly. Be sure to take advantage of the services, training, and guidelines from your technology partners to minimize the impact when an employee leaves.

Change can be your friend. When adopting new technology, careful upfront planning and follow-through can make all the difference.

Senior living professionals are preparing for trends like high turnover, wage pressures and rising acuity and you can too with the best practices we've laid out in a recent whitepaper. Read Senior Living Executive's Perspectives today!

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