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Software for senior living: It's time for proactive data-driven decision-making

The senior living industry is evolving, and with that evolution comes the growing importance of making informed decisions based on data. While many senior living operators and leaders collect vast amounts of information to understand both how their communities are succeeding and where improvements can be made, there’s often a gap between gathering that data and turning it into actionable insights.

Understanding the potential of data goes beyond just numbers. The data tells a story. But for the story to positively impact communities—including the residents, staff, and families—operators must collect data that enables proactive decision-making. By collecting data that can drive positive future outcomes, operators position themselves to better bridge the gap and move beyond information that exclusively tells a story that lives in the past.

As data collection and its use evolve in senior living, it’s important to recognize the difference in impact between lagging indicators (data that looks backward to tell you what has already happened) and leading indicators (data that looks forward to indicate what is happening and what can happen). By focusing on leading indicators, like resident engagement and staff efficiency, operators can shift from reactive to proactive decision-making. Through this shift, the data can have a stronger impact on both the business side of senior living as well as the human side. Communities can flourish because residents, staff, and families are connected and satisfied.

The value of data: beyond numbers 

Understanding data’s potential

iStock-635987156Data is a powerful tool that can drive better decision-making and optimize operations in senior living communities. Senior living communities are not alone in this challenge. According to a Salesforce study involving 10,000 business leaders, 73% believe in the transformative power of data. However, a significant gap exists between this belief and the actual usage of data, with only one-third or fewer leveraging it to inform their strategies. This disparity highlights the challenge many industries—including senior living—face in applying data in an impactful way.

The potential of data for senior living operators lies not only in its ability to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of operations, resident well-being, and staff efficiency. The potential lies in focusing on specific trends through a more acute, micro-level perspective. The analysis of smaller trends across operations, resident well-being, and staff efficiency can help pinpoint areas that require immediate attention. And it’s this ability to surface both macro- and micro-level insights that better position operators to make proactive decisions.

Types of data: lagging vs. leading indicators

The senior living industry generates data that can be categorized into lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators that are tracked and measured by operators include occupancy rates, length of stay, and staff retention. While these metrics provide a critical view into past performance, they are inherently reactive and do not provide operators with the insights necessary to look forward. In essence, you can’t fix or prepare for future outcomes through a reactive strategy that keeps you pinned in the past.

By contrast, leading indicators offer a proactive approach. Metrics like resident well-being, resident engagement, and staff efficiency provide meaningful insights that can inform future strategies and improvement. By focusing on these leading indicators, senior living leaders can anticipate potential issues and address them before they impact business outcomes. This approach not only fosters a supportive and engaging environment for staff, residents, and families, but it also produces stronger business outcomes that can drive future success.

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Challenges in data utilization

Barriers to effective data use

Despite the clear benefits of data-driven decision-making, senior living leaders face several barriers to leveraging data effectively. One of the primary challenges is the manual nature of data collection. Many communities still rely on manual processes, which are time-consuming and prone to errors. This lack of automation hampers the ability to collect accurate data and analyze it with efficiency.

Additionally, there is slow adoption of innovative solutions that can automate data collection and generate actionable insights. Without these solutions, communities struggle to move beyond basic data collection to more sophisticated analysis and optimization. This underscores the need for comprehensive senior living technology solutions that can streamline data processes and provide real-time insights—insights that provide a deeper understanding of resident engagement, staff efficiency, and overall resident well-being.

Proactive data-driven strategies

Shifting from reactive to proactive approaches

Insights HeaderV2_767x850To truly harness the power of data, senior living communities must shift from reactive to proactive strategies. This involves moving beyond lagging indicators and focusing on leading indicators that can drive proactive enhancements. For example, monitoring resident engagement and staff efficiency can help identify potential issues early before they impact overall resident satisfaction and staff retention.

Proactive data-driven strategies also involve continuous monitoring and analysis. By regularly reviewing data and trends, operators can make informed decisions that enhance resident well-being and operational efficiency. This approach not only addresses current challenges but also positions communities for future growth and success.

Holistic solutions for comprehensive insights

Advanced solutions and holistic platforms play a crucial role in enabling proactive data-driven strategies. These solutions not only automate data collection and analysis but also provide real-time, actionable insights. By synthesizing a variety of data points—across resident engagement, activity programming, staffing operations, and social connections—innovative platforms offer operators a comprehensive view of their community.

Through this comprehensive view operators can save time and improve data governance by accessing key metrics all in one place. They can know immediately when a resident is thriving or faltering and take proactive steps to engage with families. Operators can consistently stay in the know, benchmarking their community performance and easily determining opportunities for growth and intervention.

Real-world examples demonstrate the effectiveness of a comprehensive platform. Senior living operators that have adopted a holistic platform report significant improvements in operational efficiency and resident satisfaction within their communities. Because these platforms provide accurate and expansive data, operators can stay out in front of the challenges they face.

When operators can analyze and optimize their community performance with accurate data that provides proactive insights, their staff, residents, and families flourish.

To learn how senior living operators are addressing the growing importance of collecting and leveraging the right data to drive informed business decisions, download the newest installment of our annual report, 2024 Report: The state of senior living and technology.

 

Want to learn more about LifeLoop?

As the leading solutions provider for senior living engagement and operations, LifeLoop will help you boost efficiency with operational tools, deliver purposeful engagement with industry-leading wellness-focused content, provide families with a window into their loved ones' lives, and gain insight into community performance with actionable recommendations. Watch our video below to learn more.

 

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