ORCA CON - Innovation & Technology panel
Technology is coming anyway and the amount of seniors who will walk into the communities with their own smartphones is just exploding. This will only grow, so communities are better prepared until it is too late to do that change and maybe lose even some customers at the end, which is the scenario we want to avoid.
The big yearly event for the Senior Living industry in Canada, ORCA CON, was happening from October 5th until the 7th. Hence, with the previous insight in mind, the topic ’Technology and Innovation’ was well chosen for the agenda. Cubigo’s CEO, Geert Houben, together with Andrea Prashad (Amica Senior Lifestyles), Michael Chrostowski (Age-Well), Raul Rupsingh, (BookJane) were invited to talk about his vision on this subject.
In the panel, the question was raised about the challenges Cubigo has been trying to solve in the sector, pre and post-pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, a lot of new applications and software solutions were adopted by the end-users but in the end, communities end up with a plethora of different user identifications, passwords, and data sources. These are not integrated, they are siloed interfaces. Geert mentioned that the solution for the industry is to step away from siloed apps and move to an integrated platform where everything is integrated and a consistent user interface for staff but also residents and family members is created. Only then, integrated data dashboards for the corporate level can be provided.
During the pandemic, Cubigo shifted its roadmap slightly due to a shift in needs. There was an enormous need for online content like having an in-room TV channel with a YouTube-live integration so residents could see virtual activities taking place in the basement.
Not only the wellness services but also the visitor management system was rethought by Cubigo due to the pandemic. The visitor management system with an integrated thermal scanner to replace the screeners at the door was developed, while it needed to be integrated into that larger digital ecosystem. Having this integrated platform (wellness services, visitor management, Point-of-Sales etc) leads to many advantages. The visitor for example appears in the POS by having used the visitor management at arrival in the community (a use case is when the visitor is having lunch with the resident in the community).
In addition, a digital way of tracking visitors is crucial for audit reasons. Communities can easily show visitor records and do contact tracing. With a digital platform, this is much simpler than just a paper slip.
Pre-covid, operators already had many reasons to not embrace technology. Covid was that reason to force them. I heard an operator say: ‘The pandemic was disruptive in a lot of ways so let’s use that disruption to also disrupt our workflows because it is disrupted anyway so maybe this is the good moment to do change management with embracing technology. (Geert Houben)
Further on, Geert talked about the technology trends across the sector.
He mentioned that the digital transformation already happened in other industries 10 years ago where they went from paper to digital. Hence, many best practices come from these other industries. But this is just the start. The next step is to go from digital workflows to an intelligent system, for example, machine learning and AI. This is not possible without taking the first step. It is crucial for operators to do this digital transformation as it will allow them to go for different business models generating new revenue streams or even going beyond their walls, offering services to people living at home for example.
Lastly, Andrea mentioned that the senior living industry hasn’t been tech-savvy and that operators don’t always have robust tech teams in-house. Geert thoughts: “What I think is crucial here is to have the user-centered design approach and really do the co-creation that we mentioned. That means sitting together with the operator around the table and co-develop it instead of pushing it to the communities. It is the paradigm of developing with the end-user instead of for the end-user.”