This article is sponsored by PointClickCare. In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with PointClickCare Vice President and General Manager of Senior Living Travis Palmquist to learn how senior living providers can use data to capture their “rightful seat at the table” in the care continuum, the top areas where providers need to focus their data efforts in 2020 and what the “new normal” means today.
Senior Housing News: You came to PointClickCare in 2014. What brought you to the company and how has your role evolved since then?
Travis Palmquist: I had the great opportunity to get to know the founders when they entered the market. I was working for a competitor and admired PointClickCare from afar. I’d worked with a couple of startups. Mike [Founder and CEO Mike Wessinger] and I had chatted, and I had come close before, but when they turned their focus toward senior living in earnest, that’s when my experience and skillset came together with what PointClickCare needed.
The ability to collect senior living data is a major offering of PointClickCare. It’s something that you’ve discussed and written about. When did you become so interested in this and why?
Palmquist: When you look at senior living, and the innovative thought leaders in trailblazing companies, there is an opportunity right now for senior living to step forward and secure a great role in the continuum of care, helping provide preventative care and wellness, keeping people healthier longer, keeping them stronger, safer and more independent. Clearly, when their resident population represents about half of the Medicare spend, there’s a seat at the table for people who can have a big impact on that spend.
But in order to secure that rightful seat at the table, we’re going to have to step up our ability to provide evidence of the impact we’re having on resident outcomes and quality. I think that we’ve got a great opportunity to better serve our customers to help enable them to prove those outcomes.
The void that exists in senior living, compared to something like skilled nursing, is that there really isn’t any standardized data. We see an opportunity to respond to our customers and give them what they’re asking for, which is to help them leverage the evidence and the data to tell the real story of what’s going on in senior living and all the good things happening there.
It’s not about PointClickCare saying, “Hey, you shouldn’t use a competitor. You should use us.” That’s the wrong message. We want to empower our customers to control their own destiny. We don’t want them to have to sit back and wait for some other outside force or regulatory body to tell them how to do it. We want to empower them to do it themselves. That is the spirit of senior living.
What are the top three data categories that you think operators need to focus on in 2020?
Palmquist: I think a lot of them are already focusing on the two biggest ones: workforce engagement and customer engagement.
For operators, everything starts with your workforce engagement. And that’s no secret, but as a technology company, we have to find ways for our customers to leverage technology as a differentiator in recruiting and keeping the very best staff.
That’s something that we are focused on doing, and look no further than our major investment in partnering with Apple in 2019 to bring Companion to market. We traveled around the country and talked to CEOs and other leaders, and they all were confident that technology could do more for them, but they all were concerned that their staff and their teams were not in a position where they were ready to embrace and deploy the technology in a way that will deliver the value.
So we said, we need to make this simple. We need to make it elegant. We need to make it easy to learn and easy to deploy to alleviate those concerns.
We’ve successfully done that. Eighty to 85% of the staff in senior living are direct caregivers. Yet prior to Companion, no one had focused on putting technology in the palm of the individual’s hand with a user-friendly workflow, something that they can deploy across an entire community in 10 minutes or less. Through our partnership with Apple, we’ve been able to successfully do that.
The person who drives your brand equity and is responsible for driving word on the street and sending families home happy and residents is the caregiver. If you are going to meaningfully move the needle in senior living by leveraging technology, you have to move the needle for that person.
The second one is around customer engagement and resident engagement and family engagement. Everybody knows that staff engagement drives customer engagement, which drives better outcomes and better business performance. But that leads to the third category: quality performance indicators. I think that that’s something that the industry is rallying around, trying to find commonalities around their biggest priorities. Falls. Medical move-outs. Anti-psychiatry. There is so much power around how we can drive better outcomes based on a lot of those diseases that are being treated in a senior living community.
Going along with that, what are the top senior living operating challenges today that PCC helps address?
Palmquist: The four things that we’re most focused on helping with are staff engagement, resident experience, safety and compliance and then financial performance. Staff engagement is first, and it’s more than just engagement. We want to help them leverage technology to retain the best staff.
The best communities have the best people. We are seeing millennials looking at this as a career path. They’ve grown up using these devices to make their day-to-day lives easier. It’s almost like they expect to be able to leverage that to help them better do their jobs. That’s where I think we’re having a big impact.
The next one is resident experience. There is a lot that goes into that, but helping provide the excellence in the identification, in the delivery, in the capture of services and being able to provide personalized health and wellness programs that are consistently delivered and executed — that matters. Most of our customers have these massive activities calendars, but they’re challenged to get residents to participate. We want to provide technology that helps them provide an exceptional experience for their customers.
The third is safety and compliance. That’s probably the most obvious one that people have always looked to technology companies to deliver often. And the fourth, obviously, is financial performance. You can’t serve your mission if you’re not operating successfully.
What would you like to see senior living industry leaders do this year in terms of gathering and measuring the data and setting the course for the next 10 years?
Palmquist: I just want to see them understand this massive opportunity for senior living to play a bigger role in meeting the needs of our country’s seniors. As an industry, we can come together and do a better job of securing the rightful place in the continuum without compromising hospitality.
You’ve noted the ways that separate areas of the business are actually tightly connected. What role do you see technology being able to play to deliver on all of these intertwining needs?
Palmquist: It’s everywhere. For instance, we know that we’re staring down a staffing crisis, and we know that technology needs to be a workforce multiplier to serve in the right spots, to help people do more, and to help us better take care of this massive population. At the same time, we know that you can’t replace the human touch with technology. But we can use technology to help us more efficiently do the right thing for people.
You’re seeing entire physician practices align with primary care and wellness checks to senior living communities and senior living organizations. There was one physician that I was chatting with about the difference between knocking on one door to visit one senior, or knocking on one senior living community door and visiting 100 seniors.
From a technology perspective, how do we enable the right, efficient engagement for these primary caregivers to be more involved and play an active role in wellness checks and preventative care? I think senior living should be the one doing it. That’s the only way we’re going to drive down costs and more efficiently meet the needs of these seniors.
Can you share any developments about new products or functions that PCC is working on, particularly related to obviously what we discussed here today?
Palmquist: We’re going to continue to evolve a lot of mobile technology. The days of sitting behind some stationary place and doing documentation are over. Obviously, our partnership with Apple’s a big example of that, and the idea of moving from system of record to system of intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the way some people refer to it. I don’t know if our industry is ready for that term yet, but that’s what it is.
You’ve talked a lot about the idea of “the new normal” in senior living and technology. What does “The new normal” mean to you?
Palmquist: We’ve had some other people in the industry try to move past this and say they don’t want to be part of a new normal. They want to be part of new. But we’ve got the software whether people like new normal or not. The new normal is value-driven, it’s person-centered, it’s outcome-oriented, it’s all these things we’ve been talking about. The new normal is empowering providers, regardless of where their DNA is, to be able to confidently deliver those types of things. Person-centered care is probably the best way to put it.
And if you’re going to thrive in the new normal, you have to be able to show results.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
PointClickCare is the leading electronic health record (EHR) technology partner to North America’s long-term post-acute care and senior care industry. To learn more about how PointClickCare can help your business, visit them at pointclickcare.com.
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected]