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Technology investments in senior living and care are returning to “normal priorities” after a prior focus on COVID-19 pandemic and infection control systems, according to the results of a new survey.

Specialty investment bank Ziegler released the results of its December 2022 CFO Hotline Survey this week, showing that the top tech spending categories last year for senior living — which Ziegler defines as assisted living, independent living, memory care and skilled nursing.

The survey, conducted every two years with LeadingAge CAST, reflects responses from more than 150 long-term care chief financial officers and finance professionals, largely from not-for-profit communities with a heavy continuing care retirement community / life plan community orientation.

The top five technology investments revolved around information and communication technology, or ICT:

  • infrastructure (high-speed internet connectivity, wired/wireless), 74%, 
  • electronic medical/health record systems, 54%, 
  • electronic point-of-care/point-of-service documentation systems, 51%, 
  • workforce/staffing scheduling systems, 47%, and 
  • access control/wander management systems, 47%.

Spending in the past year increased for monitoring technologies, including automatic fall detectors (18% in 2022 compared with 8% in 2020), user-activated emergency response systems (41% in 2022 versus 28% in 2020), and physical exercise and rehabilitation technologies (23% in 2022 versus 18% in 2020). Technical support for residents also increased, according to 40% of survey participants, compared with 29% in 2020. 

Overall, respondents reported that they would devote 8.3% of their total capital budgets, on average, to technologies. This amount is up from 8% in 2020 but down from 12.2% in 2014.

In the past year, organizations reported they were least likely to invest in medication management technologies (15%), share care planning and care coordination tools (15%) and robotic process automation (3%). 

In 2020, the top five investments showed a clear connection to the pandemic, including video conferencing capabilities, ICT infrastructure, resident access to the internet and social networking sites, infection control systems and access control/wander management systems, Ziegler said.

Future spending in the coming year, the survey found, will center on:

  • ICT infrastructure, 37%, 
  • data analytic tools, 31%, 
  • electronic medical/health records, 31%, 
  • access control/wander management systems, 29%, and 
  • electronic point of care/point of service platforms, 29%.

Respondents indicated that spending in the coming year will be lower on infection control systems and staff/resident screening technologies and that their technology investments are shifting to meet the needs of the baby boomers who are entering the long-term care system. The oldest baby boomers are turning 77 this year, and the youngest are turning 59.