After a successful pilot, then what?
Like many senior care providers, at the top of our agenda at Eskaton is the pursuit of business initiatives that enable efficiencies, cost control, and better care. For us, technology has been part of the answer. Many senior living providers see the promise of technology, but one barrier to wider deployment is unfamiliarity with how to do it. Industry wide, the result has been slow full-scale deployment and ROI left on the proverbial table, despite compelling evidence of success after an initial pilot program.
Taking a similar approach to most of our peers, we first deployed Intel-GE Care Innovations'™ smart sensor technology, QuietCare, in one building in 2009. After assessing its impact, we initiated a roll-out to eight buildings with approximately 1,000 residents to be completed by the first quarter of fiscal 2013. From our experience, we've identified strategies that we believe are contributing to our successful transition from a pilot to full-scale implementation. Those keys include:
· Get staff and residents involved: Prior to implementation, we communicated the purpose of the technology, the process for installing it, and its impact to each of our stakeholders. We recommend creating a formal feedback mechanism to help you and your staff work through issues and help everyone feel more comfortable about the implementation.
- Secure executive and staff buy-in: Support from the leaders of an organization are critical to getting the program off the ground. They can set the tone of a culture that actively promotes and encourages innovation.
- Engage and build a strong relationship with your technology vendor early on: Technology vendors can work with senior living management and staff to design workflows and facilitate staff training and technology installation. As industry experts, technology vendors can help apply best practices and lessons learned from other senior living providers so you can reach your goals faster and with less pain.
- Redesign workflow: Although a critical tool, technology alone is not sufficient. It's important to rethink current processes to streamline workflow. This is one of the biggest lessons we learned from our pilot of the technology and have been able to avoid many of the growing pains for full-scale deployment.
- Plan for ongoing support: Hold training activities at each implementation site, prepare for ongoing training, and meet with operators monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly (as needed) to share best practices and highlight successes. Further empower employees and optimize the technology by providing staff with informational materials to reference, such as a guidebook of best practices and talking points on how to effectively explain the technology to residents. This time investment upfront will quickly pay off.
- Don't let funding stand in the way: It's often assumed that only large organizations can afford to be innovative. Yet, technology vendors can create a tailored, flexible payment plan to meet any organizations' needs and ensure you get the ROI you need.
While every organization is different, our experience has shown that moving from a pilot program to full-implementation can be a smooth process. As a result, our administration, staff, residents, and resident families are excited to see the benefits of more efficient processes, better cost control, and higher quality care on a larger scale.Sheri Peifer is the senior vice president of Innovation & Strategic Development at Eskaton in California.