Innovation and disruption are always happening. We’ve seen waves of it over the years, but the challenges senior living faces, which can also be viewed as opportunities, and the technology that is already coming online, is going to change the industry and aging like nothing before. Consumers will continue to become more demanding, healthcare outcomes and cost control will be paramount and we all know of the workforce challenges that lie ahead. Innovation will provide many of the solutions to these issues and every organization should be focused on identifying innovative products and services that can help them reach their goals.
So, what should be on our radars? It’s impossible to predict exactly, but here are three key areas we should all keep our eyes on:
- The Internet of Things
Senior living is poised for the widespread adoption of interconnected devices, systems, and monitoring tools that collect data and share data to heighten resident experience, improve health outcomes and focus caregivers time most effectively. These tools will range from wearables that track activity 24/7 days a week, to various sensors placed throughout the home and community to existing data platforms that need to be integrated. These interconnected devices will feed their data into analytical tools that will help both seniors and their caregivers make better lifestyle decisions.
- Robotics and Automation
Due to the rapidly aging U.S. population and the increasing shortage of caregivers, the senior living industry must adopt creative solutions to meet resident demand. Social robots such as Jibo and ElliQ interact and develop relationships with seniors and they also prompt with reminders and facilitate engagement with family members and others. Automation will impact the industry in many ways, as certain tasks across multiple departments (sales, accounting, dining, caregiving, etc.) are automated. Self-driving vehicles are also going to dramatically change mobility for seniors and will impact senior living as transportation becomes less of an issue for seniors. Rather than having drivers, these vehicles may carry someone trained to care for and assist seniors.
- Artificial Intelligence
All this innovation will open the door to the collection of massive amounts of data. With impressive advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), this data can be increasingly be used to improve senior services on a major scale. Currently, AI is performing impressive tasks such as analyzing x-rays on par with or better than human doctors. The more data available, the better AI gets, even without explicit programming. This is known as machine learning. The possibilities with this technology are endless, from helping diagnose disease to potentially predicting who is at risk and directing intervention and care where it’s needed most. Again, this will both improve health outcomes and provide relief to coming workforce challenges.
Technological advancements tend to have a ripple effect, and it’s no surprise that these three phenomena are intertwined. The senior living industry needs to stay engaged and consistently explore ways to leverage these innovations for the betterment of residents and other operators. Organizations like Aging2.0, which aims to accelerate aging-focused innovation by providing a networking and collaboration hub, are certainly helpful in doing so. And I’m proud to have recently launched the Aging2.0 Kansas City chapter. The choice is simple — we must actively seek out and adopt these types of innovations to address the challenges the industry faces, and provide the high-level care and engaged, purposeful lives seniors are demanding.
Learn more about advancements and emerging technology in senior living from our December webinar here.