Among a crowded field of senior care technology startups, K4Connect has commanded a lot of attention. Partly that’s because its founder, Scott Moody, previously helped create TouchID, the technology for unlocking an iPhone with a fingerprint. Partly it’s because the company has succeeded where many other startups fail, in scaling up pilot projects.
Now, K4Connect has announced its largest multi-community deployment to date, with Carlsbad, California-based Kisco Senior Living. Kisco operates 22 locations across seven states, offering services across the whole care continuum, from independent living to skilled nursing.
The provider will be introducing K4Connect in 16 communities, the companies announced Monday. Going from the pilot phase to this large rollout has been an unusually smooth and quick process, Kisco COO Terri Novak told Senior Housing News.
“This is not typical,” she said. “This has been better than any tech implementation we’ve ever had.”
The relationship between K4Connect and Kisco dates back to around 2015, when leaders from the two organizations came together and hit it off. Kisco’s Magnolia Glen community in Raleigh, North Carolina, became an early test site for K4Connect.
“It was very early on in the company as we were first developing the product,” Moody told SHN. “Magnolia Glen was a ‘learning pilot’ for us. We charge for pilots—that one and a couple of others were free.”
K4 now offers solutions both for operators and residents. Through a mobile application for iOS and Android devices, users can access a range of capabilities and information; operators can see data such as trends in residents’ activities of daily living and thermostat use, while residents can connect with friends and family and access menus or schedules of events. There also is a smart home feature, through which the technology can automatically adjust thermostats and lights.
The Magnolia Glen pilot went so well, Kisco also implemented K4Connect when it opened The Cardinal at North Hills, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) also in Raleigh. There, the company has seen 79% of residents engage with the product, accessing community content more than 27,000 times, according to a press release.
Now, Kisco also has introduced K4Connect at additional communities in North Carolina, as well as in Florida and California. It plans to have the full 16-community implementation completed by spring 2018.
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The process has not always been straightforward. In some instances, buildings needed to have infrastructure upgrades to boost their WiFi capability, Novak said. But those investments will be well worth it, she believes.
Return on investment is being measured based on several metrics. One is time saved by staff; now, if residents have questions or issues with in-unit technology such as television remotes or thermostats, those questions are addressed by K4Connect, Novak noted. Another metric is money saved by using fewer “consumables”—things like paper to print out calendars or schedules that now are on the app. And the “smart home” thermostat adjustments and similar features promise to reduce utility costs.
There are more intangible benefits as well, such as increased resident and family engagement. Kisco did not anticipate the extent of this benefit, Novak said, but when residents give loved ones access to the app, it creates opportunity for interaction.
“[Family members] can call up and say, ‘I see there’s Tai Chi, are you going to that?’” she said.
Although she declined to share exact figures, costs are nominal, according to Novak. They reasonably could be covered by offering K4Connect as an add-on charge or by baking it in to rental rates, she said, noting that it’s less than most people pay for WiFi or cable in their homes.
Going forward, Kisco especially likes that K4Connect offers an adaptable platform for including a variety of capabilities. Kisco is looking at how it can utilize the app more for back-office processes in particular, Novak said. And she emphasizes that K4Connect is highly engaged in building out the platform with resident and staff input in mind, and is hands-on in providing training and support.
“K4Connect has great planning and staffing, and they’re on-site providing ongoing education,” Novak said. “They’re great listeners.”
Realistically, Novak anticipates that there might be some communities where K4Connect doesn’t work as well right out of the gate, but she believes that Kisco and K4Connect are aligned and that the expansion ultimately will be successful.
“I’m so jazzed,” she said.
Written by Tim Mullaney