Interoperability in senior living: Making it a reality

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Doug Fullaway
Doug Fullaway

Your marketing tells you the census is at 90% and finance tells you it's 88%. We've all seen this discrepancy. It happens over and over across the world of senior living due to of the multiple systems that don't communicate in real time. Now, imagine what life would be like if your systems really did interoperate; it would save you time and allow you to focus on delivering quality care to residents or explore new and better ways to optimize your business. Well, this dream isn't too far off. 

The subject of interoperability is complex. While there is a lot of interest on how to make systems work together, most of us don't have the time to spend on such technical stuff. Alas, there are two things you can do now to make a difference and start you down the path to truly interoperable systems. 

Step 1: Identify your business objectives

Before you start asking for all your systems to work together, be sure your business objective is clear.  Some goals you might consider for your organization:

  • Increase care revenues
  • Increase your ancillary revenues
  • Increase staff productivity
  • Align marketing, finance and operations in a timely manner
  • Track KPIs to improve ROI

Identifying what your goals are will not only save you time and money, but it is the necessary first step toward achieving true integration.

Step 2: Hire a company to help with integration

In the past, it was difficult to find a company that provided all of your interoperability needs. Marketing, clinical and software billing used to be separate systems that didn't work together. Today, there are several companies that offer these integrated systems and can connect separate solutions to your choice of systems.

But don't expect one company to complete all of your needs. Before you select your favorite clinical system, talk with suppliers about what accounting systems are already integrated and how these systems can reduce cost and risk. Questions you should ask the suppliers include:

  • Will your care system pull data from my sales and marketing systems? 
  • Will your care system provide the hours needed for staffing and that it flows into your scheduling software?
  • Will you allow me to choose my favorite eMAR and then provide the integration to your care system?
  • If I want to keep my current accounting system, will your care system pass the care charges into this accounting system?

The next time you find yourself wasting 30 minutes of your time to “reconcile the numbers,” step back and think about what systems you have in place today and what those might look like in the future. Then, pick up the phone and find a supplier that can help make your interoperability dreams a reality.

Doug Fullaway is the vice president of business development at RealPage Senior Living.

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