4 Tech Innovations to See You Through Covid-19, and Beyond

Four innovative technology companies shared the ways they are helping senior living and healthcare providers overcome pandemic-related challenges at the 3rd Annual Ziegler Link-Age Fund Symposium.

John Hopper, Chief Investment Officer of the Ziegler Link-Age Fund, facilitated the discussion. He introduced the panelists:

  • Lever Stuart, Chief Operating Officer at AccuShield
  • Mike Rosenbaum, CEO of Arena
  • Carrie Shaw, CEO of Embodied Labs
  • Chris Wong, CEO of LifeSite

He then set the context by sharing statistics and insights about the impact of Covid-19 on the senior living sector: “COVID-19 has increased the cost of employment, and turnover has been increasing.”

Lever Stuart, 1st Panelist

LEVER STUART: Accushield has been focused in the senior living industry for seven years. We provide an all-in-one solution for digital sign-in and visitor management. With the advent of the pandemic, we layered into the sign-in process customizable health screening questions for staff and visitors, and integrated taking of temperature.

How are you currently handling health screening of visitors and staff? Does this look familiar? What is the cost of having a full-time person up at the desk to manually ask questions, write down answers, take temperatures. What do you do with those paper records? How do you retrieve this information?

What Accushield provides is a solution to the paper problem. When you manually, on paper, collect the information of health screening, it’s not easily retrievable, not easy to report on. Sometimes it’s illegible, it creates clutter. You have that additional cost of people having to complete forms… We replace that with a digital system. User-friendly, self-use. A staff member is no longer required in order for visitors and staff to sign-in and be properly health-screen-verified before entrance into your facility.

An overview of the system — We are a cloud-based system with a sign-in terminal that transmits by internet connectivity — whether Wi Fi or Ethernet — to a cloud based PHI- and HIPAA-compliant database platform. This allows authorized users to go into the dashboard and manage all of the visitor and health screening data that you are collecting. 

To give you an example of the advantages of digital reporting. Here is a visitor dashboard where you can see the name of the individual, who they work for, in the case of the vendor, what individual or resident they were there to see. 

You could sort all of this by date.  You’ll see that all of these reports such as this visitor dashboard, you can easily export into an Excel or CSV file, if you want to import that into another system or if you want to print it to give to authorities.

So the purpose of the system is to get rid of the un-usability of paper logs and the struggle to sort them and retrieve data, and replace it with a totally privacy law compliant HIPAA compliant digital platform. Plus layering in that the printing of a badge is visible proof in the facility to everybody that you’ve been properly helped screen next week.

Michael Rosenbaum, 2nd Panelist

MIKE ROSENBAUM: Arena is a platform that’s used to help operators and providers organize their workforces — figure out who to bring in, where to put someone, who to promote, where to transfer someone. We are deployed almost entirely in healthcare broadly defined — that includes assisted living, skilled nursing, acute care.

The core of what we’re doing is we’re using machine learning.  The same technologies that Netflix uses to figure out what you’re likely to watch and Amazon figures out what you’re likely to buy, we’re applying to the problem of figuring out how to organize a workforce in your specific environment.

Folks typically use us initially to improve retention before moving to other predictions. Across our client base, our average impact 12 months after going live is a reduction in turnover by 21%, and 24 months after going live a reduction in turnover by 43%

As pandemic-related unemployment surged last spring, we pointed our technology outside of our clients’ applicant pools to deliver net new applicants.  We pointed it specifically into industries that were shrinking:  Retail, hotels, and restaurants, places where folks who are leaving those industries might actually be fabulous being a caregiver in an assisted living community two miles down the road, but never knew about that role or never knew about the industry of assisted living.  We route folks to a portal, collect data, and then route applicants to our clients into roles where that individual would be likely to thrive.

Over the same time period, we’ve taken our bias mitigation efforts to the next level. We’ve repurposed a technology that was originally developed by the intelligence community to determine deep fakes in order to reduce bias that occurs in hiring and promotion decisions. In this industry, we often don’t think about dramatic diversity challenges among caregivers and assisted living and skilled nursing. However, there’s a relatively significant inclusion challenge in the leadership of many organizations. A number of clients are using this to diversify leadership teams and ensure bias is reduced in promotions decisions.

Carrie Shaw, 3rd Panelist

CARRIE SHAW: Embodied Labs leverages shared experiences through immersive technologies so that we can train our caregivers in our caregiving health care workforce. In virtual reality, you can provide simulation training.  We’ve done this for decades in military training, pilot simulations… Now we’re applying that knowledge and affordance to make more effective, efficient training for our healthcare workforce.

Here is a training that involves embodying the perspective of an older man living with macular degeneration and hearing loss. 

We combine a live action film with end users using their own hands and their voice and body and gaze, to be projected into this virtual world.  They are actually present and immersed and experiencing something, a lived experience that they otherwise couldn’t. 

All of our modules take about 5-7 minutes. You’re cued to put on the headset and go through a topic. Then you come out and are guided through a reflection and then a process to apply that into your care practice. 

End to end, that whole framework takes about 15 minutes. So it makes it really easy to create modular training for staff that can come on and off the floor and self-facilitate these experiences. 

And then the platform measures impact. We look at, ‘What do people learn?’ What behavior changes do they apply to their care? How does their emotional intelligence grow? What kind of cultural competencies are they learning as they embody different cultures, races, genders, ages different from their own? And then how does this impact employee satisfaction?

We heard from a recent white paper that Front Porch Communities put out that I’d encourage everyone to read, that staff are saying, not only quantitatively did they move the needle on many of these metrics, but they’re saying “I have new reserves of patience,” and “I have more understanding and excitement for the work that I’m doing and the value it’s providing for residents.”

Many of our senior living communities also extend Embodied Labs to family caregivers.  They’re able to offer it in-context of support groups, as workshops for community members. We’ve got academic institutions incorporating this into their health care training.  We’re serving Area Agencies on Aging, VA hospitals, and adult protective services agencies.  There’s really a broad application of how care and service for older adults all benefit from these kinds of immersive trainings.

Chris Wong, 4th Panelist

CHRIS WONG: Lifesite provides an ultra secure, cloud-based digital safe deposit box that’s designed for individuals to work with their families and their advisors to help organize, manage and share, and curate all life’s information and documents for different situations.

We’ve got a dashboard for you and your family. You can see all the different interactions around your life information and have encrypted conversations in multiple languages. The mobile application has the added functionality of scanning a document, or scanning a picture, and then knowing where to put it in the system.

When the pandemic hit, one of the top testing companies in the country (Avellino) came to us knowing what we had built a very secure platform.  Avellino was serving a number of entities such as municipalities, cities, walk-up COVID testing sites, as well as skilled nursing facilities and senior housing. They asked us to combine the LifeSite platform with their testing and results to help them remain open and operate safely.  That’s when we came up with Covimobile. 

Covimobile a turnkey solution. We take the testing that Avellino provides — a self administered saliva kit as well as the self administered nasal swab — and combine it with our ability to help companies seek reimbursement for these tests from insurance. Effectively, the cost to organizations that we work with is zero, because it’s sponsored by the Cares Act as well as private insurance.  We manage the data and the consent process so that an HR person or safety officer can have a full view of the organization: who’s tested, what are the results, what is the testing protocol, who do I contact for tracking and tracing.

Conclusions

MIKE ROSENBAUM: This idea of innovation in workforces across different industries is really massively accelerating.  In Senior Living we’ve seen a very particular permutation of that, because, frankly, we in this industry are at the front lines of this disease, and it’s been all hands on deck to manage the crisis. 

Juggling what’s happening today and also trying to stay focused on 6 to 12 months from now is key.  We as an industry have an opportunity to come out of this at the front edge of attracting talent.  We are seeing this industry innovating — incredibly, effectively. I think it’s exactly what Carrie’s talking about when she says we should think about these kinds of technologies and the bigger picture of workforce coming out of all this.

CARRIE SHAW: I’m really excited that there’s a way to accelerate empathy and soft skills and shared experiences through technology in an automated way.  It sounds like a statement that contradicts each other, but it’s truly what we’ve been seeing grow.  I think in the age of a time of burnout and the challenges that you all in the audience are facing it’s really exciting to see some tools that can help us get through that.  And then finally, I want to express gratitude for each of the members in the audience that are doing this really hard work to serve our aging population, so thank you.

CHRIS WONG: Contact us if we can help.  Nothing is more important right now than to keep ourselves, our staff, our families, our workers, our partners, all operating safely.