Lisa McCracken headshot
Lisa McCracken

Three-fourths of senior living and care providers invested in video conferencing capabilities for residents last year, quadrupling the percentage of providers who did so just two years earlier, according to a new Ziegler CFO Hotline survey conducted in partnership with the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies. Survey results also suggested that spending for telehealth and telemedicine technologies also doubled from investments made two years ago. 

The increased investments in technology make sense given the changing needs brought forth by the COVD-19 pandemic, Ziegler Director of Senior Living Research Lisa McCracken said. Resident access to the internet and social networking websites also saw a similar increase in investments last year. Interestingly, she noted, although these obvious technologies advanced significantly from two years ago, many of the other technology solutions, including electronic health record systems, held steady or declined in terms of the number of providers spending dollars in that particular category.

“This suggests a re-prioritization of where the technology dollars were being spent,” McCracken said.

The survey, which included responses from approximately 150 senior living and care chief financial officers and chief information officers, also found that, in general, providers are budgeting about 3% of their total operating budgets to technology investments, with multi-sites budgeting a higher percentage than single-site providers. That number is slightly down from the 2018 technology investment average but an increase over 2016 and 2014.

The report concludes that many operators have realized the ongoing importance of technology thanks to the pandemic.

“We have under-invested in information technology in the past but will be emphasizing higher levels of investment going forward,” one respondent wrote.

Separate results from a newly released survey of consumers by ProMatura on behalf of the American Seniors Housing Association, however, indicated that one aspect of video teleconferencing, telehealth, didn’t seem to be much of a draw for prospective residents or their adult children. Survey participants of all ages said that they would rather see a physician in person if given the choice.