two women looking at computer screen

(Photo courtesy of Erickson Senior Living)

During the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many long-term care providers adapted to new situations out of necessity. Erickson Senior Living, however, went further and created an integrated infectious disease management system.

For its effort, Erickson has won the Gold award in the Innovator of the Year category in the Senior Living track of the 2021 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. The annual awards were presented Wednesday as part of the first McKnight’s Tech Awards + Summit, which also featured four webinars.

Erickson’s system tracks information related to the virus spreading, helped with organizing activities for the various locations while many employees were in quarantine, and found information on testing and vaccines.

“Our IDMS is giving incredibly accurate visibility and detail into the cases that we’re tracking, the quarantines we have in place and what effect that might have on a business line,” Chief Information Officer Hans Keller said. “It’s really being able to provide actionable data into the hands of those who need it most.”

The toughest part of keeping the system going was the constant evolution of knowledge involved, Keller said. The platform that helped them get it running, Amazon Web Services, was changing and growing. So was the world’s understanding of COVID-19, pushing Erickson to continue developing its system.

“What we work on is always changing,” Keller said. “But how we work, and the relationships we create with the folks we’re working with, that’s where the importance really lies. That creates a better outcome.”

The constant changes affected how the company approached isolation and quarantine. Further development of the system helped Erickson keep up when new information came in.

The provider also was able to make families, residents and employees feel safer and more secure with the system in place. Company leaders said it helped everyone do their jobs better.

“When we put this in people’s hands, they were overjoyed,” Keller said. “It allows them to focus more on providing care, the operations they needed to do and the decisions they needed to make. …It was so enthusiastically received. Everybody just praised it.”

Other Innovator of the Year awards in the Senior Living track:

  • Silver: Louisville, KY-based Atria Senior Living, for its community infection management system, which operates as an infection-tracking tool.
  • Bronze: San Francisco-based Covia, for Agora, an accessible conferencing platform that schedules events, tracks participants and manages programs.

Read about the Innovator of the Year category winners in the Skilled Nursing track on the McKnight’s Long-Term Care News website and in the Home Care track on the McKnight’s Home Care website.

Articles about the Building BridgesQuality and Keep It Super Simple category winners were published previously (this sentence contains links to the Senior Track winners).

See a list of all 2021 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards Senior Living track finalists here.

Sponsors of the 2021 McKnight’s Technology Awards + Summit program are Consensus, iN2L, Medline and SimplyConnect. To view the awards presentation and recordings of the webinars, visit