The so-called “silver wave,” when the senior living industry will see a dramatic rise of baby boomers entering communities, is on its way, according to industry experts.

Communities everywhere will see this wave beginning in mid-2020, according to Green Street Advisors’ Senior Analyst Lukas Hartwich. And although this is good news for a competitive industry that’s keen for more occupancy numbers after a relatively slow period, are communities prepared for this increase?

As units in senior living communities are filled, managers may need to prepare to deliver more quality service and care with the same amount of hands. When confronted with an abrupt demand for rooms, a period of transition may ensue for communities as they look to hire more caregivers and administrators to handle the increase. On top of these issues, more labor and residents usually equate to more overhead costs, which will eat into the anticipated revenue boost.

As the industry grows, many communities will need to change the way they do things from a business standpoint. Right now, going paperless in several departments, including accounting and human resources, is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a spike in occupancy.

Going paperless reduces overhead, and keeps it from getting out of control. With the right technology, you can get to a place where even if you’re increasing your operating budget via hiring more caregivers or increasing amenities for residents, your overhead spending plateaus.

In the traditional way of running a business, whenever you increase your workforce, expand your clientele or make improvements to your services, an influx of paperwork comes with it. More employees may mean that you will need more human resources help. The increase in payroll and billing may mean you will need more accounting help. But as you hire more labor or contract services to deal with it, you essentially are spending more to get the same amount of work done.

Document management offers you a unique opportunity to get the work done more efficiently and without the need for increased overhead spending. With intelligent organization mixed into the fold, you can automate the process of filing paperwork. All it takes is some setup to essentially teach the system what kind of documents you use and how they need to be filed. Whether paper or digital documents, the filing system ensures that every document entered is stored in the correct location.

The real power of automation is that it allows businesses to focus on growing and put their resources towards its product or services. For the senior living industry, this will be crucial if organizations wish to remain competitive and grow during the expected spike in business.

Filing, workflow, compliance, retention — it all can be automated when you take the paper out of paperwork.

For managers who wear multiple hats, including HR and accounting, getting your office to go paperless can free others so they can expend their efforts improving care and marketing to get units filled. You may not immediately be able to hire more labor when the wave unexpectedly arrives, so you need administrators who are able to handle the increase in occupancy until the revenue arrives.

More than anything, it’s a major time-saver. Rather than spending several minutes digging through filing cabinets for a document that obviously was misfiled, find it instantly with an advanced search feature and get on with your day. The time saved will add up.

In long-term care, electronic medical records and electronic health records have long been the go-to for companies wanting to move to a digital platform, but anyone in the industry who has used an EMR can tell you that they often are too unwieldy and not intuitive enough for employees to learn quickly.

When choosing to go paperless, don’t think of the decision as just a means to get rid of paper, but as a way to streamline all the processes involving that paper. You’ll save money by eliminating the need for paper, printers and filing cabinets, for sure, but you’ll also gain something far more valuable by moving away from traditional practices to ones that embrace automated processes. When everyday business processes, such as HR and accounting, are simplified, you’ll be able to put more focus on resources toward care.