James M. Berklan

Healthcare providers are considered relatively slow technology adopters, and long-term care operators as a sub-group are believed to be among the slowest. Whether or not that’s true, at least you have a cool resource to gauge how you are spreading your tech dollars compared to your peers.

For example, if you haven’t invested in improving your ICT infrastructure (such as high-speed Internet and wireless systems) over the last 12 months, you don’t have much company. Some 86% of senior living organizations did so.

Similarly, nearly 74% invested in granting residents or clients access to the Internet and social media.

Meanwhile, more than two thirds of providers recently polled (67.2%) said they had invested in electronic medical/health records.

These numbers and many more come courtesy of Ziegler, the investment banking and senior living firm responsible for regular doses of good data. Posed as part of the “Ziegler CFO Hotline,” the Technology Spending report also compares providers’ tech investment levels this year against what they were two years ago.

For example, 90% of polled providers said they had invested more in high-speed Internet (or similar services) when polled in 2012 (4 percentage points more than this year’s survey showed). Most categories stayed about the same or increased in tech investment dollars in 2014.

The biggest riser in terms of involvement over the last two years was “Resident/Client access to Internet and social media,” which more than doubled. Also more than doubling, albeit to a smaller overall percentage, was “Brain Health/Cognitive Stimulation, etc.”

Electronic record systems, Electronic Point of Care/Point of Service also rose significantly — and they were also among the categories forecast for the most purchasing growth in the next 12 months.

So how much should you be budgeting for all this tech “stuff”? In general, if you set aside 2% to 3% of your annual budget, you’d be right in the mix.

More than 130 chief financial officers took part in the survey, with slightly more than half representing single-site organizations. LeadingAge CAST contributed valuable perspective and planning, according to Ziegler officials. Results of their February survey were noted in one of their newsletters this week.

To see the report and eye-opening findings, click here.

It’s worth the investment — of your time, and, ultimately, your dollars.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Editor.