You've got mail — and some work to do

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Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

"We don't do email.”

At first I wasn't sure if I heard the person on the other end of the phone correctly. Here was a long-term care provider in this, the year 2015, who didn't use email. At all.

To someone in my age cohort, the idea of anyone (especially someone who runs a business) not using email is like the idea of not driving a car. Yeah there are other ways to get from point A to point B, some older and slower, some newer and faster, but this is the most common right now. So why in the world wouldn't you use it?

After I had recovered from my initial shock, I was dealt a second blow: They wanted to fax me the information I was looking for. I like to think of myself as a pretty tech savvy person, but somehow I had gone this far in life without ever using a fax machine. In my previous jobs and education experiences, scanning something into a computer and emailing it just seemed to be the norm.

After a few minutes of scrambling for the office's fax number and asking some other McKnight's staffers for help (which they found quite entertaining), I got everything figured out. But the situation got me thinking.

We've been seeing a big push lately for long-term care providers to strengthen their IT capabilities and embrace newer technologies. So how did this facility miss the boat? If they've held off from email for this long, what other useful, and frankly necessary, technologies are they going without? How many other facilities are in the same situation?

Last month we reported on CliftonLarsonAllen's Skilled Nursing Facility Cost Comparison Report, which included a handy to-do list for healthcare organizations looking to improve their outcomes. High on that list was determining IT needs, which experts have been hammering home for some time now. But for those of you who haven't jumped on the IT sophistication train yet (or even the AOL You've Got Mail train, apparently), take a good look at the technology at play in your facility.

While filling in the gaps in your facility's tech abilities now may not be as easy as asking someone for help on using a fax machine, it can save you valuable time and pain in the future. Your current tech setup may work just fine for your needs.

But there's a good chance it could cause trouble in the future — for you, your residents, their families and, yes, even your friendly neighborhood long-term care journalist.

Emily Mongan is Staff Writer at McKnight's. Follow her @emmongan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.