John Zaudtke headshot
John Zaudtke

More and more older Americans transition from single-family homes to congregate residential settings with senior living or skilled nursing capabilities, but professionals in the industry often are stretched thin and must do more with less. Redefining traditional workflows with automation and cloud technology can increase operational efficiency and safeguard finance teams from scrambling to hire for positions that currently are difficult to fill due to labor shortages.

In fact, a 2021 survey conducted by the National Center for Assisted Living found 28% of assisted living communities were limiting admissions because of the shortages. For nursing homes, the American Health Care Association found that 94% of providers reported a shortage of staff members, and 58% said they were limited admissions due to shortages.

Fortunately, we’re in the digital age, and tactical solutions exist to streamline operations for finance offices. Many routine processes — such as handling admissions, transferring electronic health records, offering virtual community tours and more — now can be automated. The effectiveness of those tools has resulted in senior living professionals being able to use both human and financial capital to focus more on resident care and services than on time-consuming, paper-pushing tasks.

By moving to an automated payment and invoice platform, staff members at senior living communities can save hundreds of hours a year that were spent tracking invoices as well as printing, stuffing and mailing checks. Finance automation creates opportunities to develop and execute strategic initiatives, such as increasing revenue, investing more time in employees and emphasizing employee benefits.

Another benefit of automation is gaining greater visibility into the organization’s finances. For example, payments fraud always is a concern. According to the Association for Financial Professionals’ 2022 Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 71% of organizations reported having been victims of payments fraud activity. Securing how vendors are paid can alleviate much of that worry. Sophisticated automation solutions protect payments and keep bank accounts safe from fraud.

There’s a significant cost to the inefficiencies that come from a manual invoice-to-pay lifecycle that present challenges for finance departments. Those inefficiencies can reduce profit/loss ratios or increases costs for the organization. Best-in-class invoice automation solutions use artificial intelligence to capture, read and route invoices while giving finance teams a fail-safe electronic paper trail.

Most importantly, senior living providers now can do more activities that will provide exceptional care and services and improve residents’ quality of life. For example, social activities provide tremendous benefits for older adults by helping them build relationships between residents and caregivers, improve confidence levels and build trust. And social activities are great for reducing stress and improving overall wellness, according to expert providers such as The Ashford Independent & Assisted Living. 

For senior living businesses to prevail in today’s climate, it is imperative that administrators embrace technology and automate as many processes as possible to improve business continuity. They also should implement sufficient procedures that are built to withstand turnover and support resiliency during times of economic uncertainty.

Modernizing and transforming accounts payable departments at senior living communities will make them more efficient and secure so that those communities can thrive in an industry that is rapidly evolving in its mission to serve an aging America.

John Zaudtke is vice president of sales at Paymerang, a Richmond, VA-based firm specializing in finance automation solutions.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living marketplace column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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