Just as the coronavirus continued to mutate and challenge the public in new ways in 2021, so rose providers to the occasion, innovating and employing clever uses of technology to cope with the beast that has infected and killed so many.

Not all 2021 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards winners were recognized for programs and applications directly related to COVID-19, but it was hard to escape the impact of the pandemic and the effects it had, both good and bad, on the provider community.

As a national judging panel discovered, senior living, skilled nursing and home care operators magnified efforts regarding communication among staff members and families, information-gathering and services and care. They often did so in ways that might not have arrived as quickly without COVID-19. As usual, the annual awards competition shined a bright light on the resilience and resourcefulness of the long-term care industry.

“Congratulations to this year’s Tech Awards winners. These are the operators who are setting the pace,” McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor said. “We received some of the best entries ever.”

Submissions came from dozens of states as well as Canada. Each entrant was judged by at least three preliminary reviewers. Subsequent judging rounds narrowed the field. Often, fractions of a point separated winners from other finalists. Each, however, made useful application of some tool(s) or system to improve overall outcomes of their resident populations.

“This year’s entries reflect the growing role of technology in our sector,” O’Connor reflected. “Operators are harnessing tech tools as never before to improve care, unearth new efficiencies and improve operations.”

The 2021 McKnight’s Tech Awards winners were announced during an Oct. 20 online ceremony that highlighted all finalists and included acceptance speeches by each of the 12 Gold award winners. Winners, finalists and program sponsors Medline, iN2L, SimplyConnect and Consensus Cloud Solutions also were recognized in observances at the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living Convention & Expo in National Harbor, MD, and at a reception coinciding with the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & Expo in Atlanta.

Among award winners across all tracks — Senior Living, Skilled Nursing and Home Care — Atria Senior Living won Best in Show for its Resident & Family app it created.

A breakdown of the 2021 winners in the Senior Living track is posted here. Visit mcknights.com to read about Skilled Nursing track winners and mcknightshomecare.com to read about Home Care track winners.

To watch the online awards presentation and recordings of the Summit webinars, visit mcknights.com/techawards2021; free registration is required.