Welcome to Raising Tech. I'm your host Amber Bardon, and today we have a guest I'm really excited to talk to and learn more about what is going on at his company. Ryan Galea, welcome to the show.Ryan Galea:
Awesome, thanks for having me.Amber Bardon:
So, you are the CEO of Icon and for those of you who have not heard of Icon , it is a merger of two companies you probably have heard of, which is VoiceFriend and Caremerge. So, Ryan, let's start there because I know I get asked by a lot of our clients. What is Icon ? What does the merger mean? Can you just dive into that a little bit?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, absolutely. So Icon is the combination of the Caremerge Engagement platform and VoiceFriend. The business is truly focused on engagement and communication in the senior living space. The Caremerge brand now has been spun out into a separate platform that's focused on the clinical market. So specifically the EMR and EHR side of things. I think that, you know, the separation with a dedicated best of breed engagement platform now that can go head to head with some of the other solutions on the market and kind of reduces some of the market confusion that I think Caremerge was having as a business before coming from also being in the clinical space.Amber Bardon:
So Ryan, tell me a little bit more about your involvement. How did you come to the industry? How did you come to Icon ? Were you working for Caremerge or VoiceFriend or what's your involvement and how did you move into your role?Ryan Galea:
Absolutely. So my background is on the investing side of things. I worked in healthcare and tech investing for a number of years and so when I wanted to go out and do something entrepreneurial, given my background, it made a lot more sense to start where I was strong, which was going out and actually acquiring companies and bringing them together versus starting something from scratch. So in 2021, I launched a fund with the goal of going out and consolidating some of the fragmented technology in the senior care space. First acquisition we did was a company called VoiceFriend, which is a communication platform in 2021, and then we followed that up last year, 2022 with the acquisition of the Caremerge Engagement platform. And then in September of last year we merged the business together and rebranded them under the Icon brand really with the mission of really innovating the senior experience within senior living, providing tools to engage, inform and unite all stakeholders within that ecosystem more or less.Amber Bardon:
And I'm just curious, what was your interest in getting into the senior living space? It's a pretty unique space and a little bit of a niche space.Ryan Galea:
Yeah, no, it's a great question. It was a combination of two things. So I was working on Wall Street, probably was going to be there my whole life. I was enjoying it. But then my grandmother gotten sick and she had been sick for a number of years. She was actually in in Canada. But you know, the Canadian senior living system or senior care system faces a lot of the same challenges we have here. And I just saw firsthand due to the labor challenges that she just didn't get the care I think she deserved during those last few years of her life. Didn't make things worse, didn't accelerate her condition in any way , but just made that experience not as pleasant as it I think it otherwise could have been. And you know, I remember one of my conversations with her during that time and you know she was telling me about her stage advice was to life's too short. You've got to take advantage of the time you have, you don't want to have any regrets. So that really resonated with me. And so the combination of those two things led me to make the decisions, to leave what I was doing to do something more entrepreneurial. I always wanted to have an impact and felt that I would be regretful if I didn't do that in my life. And then given her experience, I thought what better than to try to get involved in improving senior care and that experience for other seniors like my grandmother. So it was like a combination of those two things and left and quit my job and started from scratch in 2021 on this new pursuit.Amber Bardon:
I was curious if you had a personal tie because actually we have a lot of entrepreneurs who come on this podcast who have gotten into this space because of a similar personal story. So I was curious if you had a personal story behind that and you do. Yeah , so for those people out there who are familiar with Caremerge, which I think Caremerge to me is kind of the leading known resident engagement app . So when I'm talking to my clients and I mention a resident engagement app and they're not sure what that is and I say, "oh, like Caremerge?" They usually know what I'm talking about. So one of the questions I've had a lot of our clients ask is what does this mean for Caremerge? Are things changing? Do they have to worry about differences? Is this going to enhance the service offering? Can you talk about that a little bit? And then one other additional question along with that is will there be an integration with VoiceFriend or what does that look like?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, absolutely. The primary goal of the merger, the rebrand, and what I'm trying to build with, you know, the investment fund I raised is to really reimagine the platform and take it to the next level we want to be and continue to be as Caremerge. I think had done very successfully, you know, be a symbol of innovation in this industry. And so whereas Caremerge is an engagement platform, we think the next natural step is what we call experience management. So we don't want to only give you the tools to engage your audience, but also the ability to measure what impact that engagement's having and then give you the insights into what you can do to actually improve that experience even further. And so we're investing very heavily in the platform with a lot of exciting stuff. I'm sure we'll talk about coming out later in this year, but really what the goal of giving you everything you need to offer your seniors an amazing experience, or as my marketing department likes to say, making the aging experience iconic. I think if you look at a lot of other consumer brands and senior living is really, it's a consumer product in a sense. You know , a lot of brands focus a lot of brand loyalty, brand reputation, you know , think of Apple, Lululemon talking about your dog, two dogs, myself and Chewy is a great example of an amazing consumer brand. They send us a letter, a handwritten letter every year on our dog's birthday, which is just a great touch. And you haven't seen that that much in senior living yet, but I think it's a natural progression as you know, the market gets more competitive and kind of matures. And so we want to give you what you need to kind of build that brand experience, that brand loyalty and kind of make a fanatical experience where people love your brand and not only the family members, but also the staff.Amber Bardon:
Can I ask you, when you're talking about that experience, do you have in mind the actual residents or their providers or both?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, so the way we think about it is to offer an amazing experience to the resident. Like there are a North Star at the end of the day, but every stakeholder involved is gonna filter up that experience. So if you don't have a happy staff member, for example, happy caregiver, there's no way you can give a good experience to the senior. So we're focused on the experience of every stakeholder. So whether it's the resident, the staff, their family members, providers, whatever it is, all those groups and giving you what you need to make sure that they're satisfied so that that senior has a good experience. You know, going back to my grandmother, it was really because the staff was not great work environment. They didn't really care as much as they could have if the company invested in making them happy and giving them that experience. So we think about it really holistically.Amber Bardon:
That's interesting. I was trying to imagine how that customized piece of that experience branding would work from all those different stakeholders.Ryan Galea:
Yeah , there's a lot of nuance to it, but ultimately if there's two things you're trying to do, attract and retain, whether it's staff, whether it's residents, whatever it is, those are the two things you're trying to do and the tactics to do that tend to be very similarAmber Bardon:
For those who are not familiar with Caremerge (and there might be some listeners out there), can you give us a high level overview of what it does? Because I know there's the resident engagement piece, which is really well known , but there's also an EMR platform side of it. So can you talk a little bit about that?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, the EMR platform, which is now what Caremerge, going forward what Caremerge is, and Icon is integrated with that platform still, and so we still have a very tight integration between the two, but Caremerge as is today now is a traditional medication management, electronic health record platform that's used by caregiving staff to manage the care of the residents within the community. So very focused, very much on the clinical side. So we want people, Caremerge is clinical now and Icon is engagement, and so that's really the distinction between the two. So, in terms of the engagement pieces that came with Caremerge, they had kind of a life enrichment program calendar management piece to it. So, everything you need to really manage your wellness and life enrichment programming. So tracking attendance, you know , participation, whatever it is. Resident portal , as you mentioned, the hub if you will, for all resident needs that they can access via a smart device. There's a family facing version of that as well, which is typically very useful in a higher acuity setting where the resident isn't going to be as engaged on the app, and then we have all different channels of communicating and sharing information. So whether that's interim tv, public signage, Amazon Alexa devices, whatever it is, any touchpoint you need to communicate and engage with your resident.Amber Bardon:
One of the big trends that I see with our clients, and especially when we're working on new construction projects is wanting to have integration across multiple types of platforms with an ultimate focus on life safety and wellness for residents. So I think, and I've said on this podcast before that we're not too far off from a point in time in which a potential family member or resident will ask the community questions like, "what technology do you have in place to keep me safe? How will you know if I fall, how are you going to make sure I get up in the morning?," and so that ties in a lot of different types of systems from emergency call systems to engagement systems, you know, to things like what VoiceFriend is doing . So how do you envision Icon approaching that and being a solution oriented product for those types of situations?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, I think the big thing about it, and you kind of touched on it, is there is a lot of different approaches you need to have in the cookbook to be successful. I think just by nature of the type of resident you're working with, what's gonna be effective in safety, wellness, whatever it is, is gonna be a little bit different, and that's why we have really gone all in on being omnichannel and that was the big part of bringing on the VoiceFriend part of the suite. VoiceFriend's always been very strong in what I would call more legacy communication. So you know, voice calls and text messages and so VoiceFriend can be used for phone-based safety and wellness check-ins, whereas the camera suite can be used for Alexa-based wellness and safety check-ins. And I think the next natural step is actually now integrating that with the PERS nurse call systems, which hasn't been done really yet, but I think it's kind of the natural next step is to bring that really full circle and have the last piece of communication that we're not touching yet.Amber Bardon:
Yeah, and there's such an interesting opportunity in independent living and a little bit more in the assisted living because a lot of this technology has been focused more in the skilled application, but as we know, skilled is becoming less and less important to a lot of communities with more of a focus on the IL side. And I think a lot of communities have not typically thought of providing these types of services to IL because by definition they're independent. But if you can do it in a really unobtrusive way and in a way that can make them have like a peace of mind without feeling that they're being monitored, it's interesting to think about what the possibilities. And along those lines, I wanna touch on one other type of technology, which is smart homes. So, I know a lot of the resident engagement apps out there don't touch smart homes, and I spoke to Nancy, a long time ago, when she was the CEO of Caremerge, and she had kind of mentioned that that wasn't the direction that the company was going, but I know that's been a couple years and I do see a big need for that sort of holistic app to control all these different components. So I'm just curious, do you have any plans or anything you can share around any smart home type functions or integrations?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, so I think it is on the ladder . So we want to be the hub and the way, and which is why I think Caremerge is really attractive. When I was looking at what to use as the foundation of the platform we're looking to build is that, you know, there were very data forward and it was really easy for them to integrate with pretty much anything you can think of. And so I think there's some phenomenal companies out there in the consumer sector that are building the best smart home technology already. I mean Amazon is doing a ton of stuff there and we're never going to be able to build the smart home tech that Amazon can build, but we can leverage it in this setting. And so by nature of our platform, having the easy ability to integrate, we'll be able to integrate with all off-these-shelf smarthome products that are getting to be pretty solid at this point. And so allow you to leverage consumer -grade products in this setting and be able to integrate that data with your whole holistic resident experience platform.Amber Bardon:
Oh , that sounds really exciting. Is there anything else you want our listeners to know about Icon or anything going on with the company or information you want to share?Ryan Galea:
Yeah, I think I'll share that at its core Icon, we're trying to be more than just the collection technologies . We're trying to be the testament to the power of what you can do by creating a seamless and remarkable ecosystem, if you will, in senior living. So we're not just trying to give you technology, we're not trying to solve problems, we're trying to really shape and experience and foster, inspire, connect everybody in that ecosystem, building that digital bridge to ultimately do that. I want everyone to note that the last year we spent really building that foundation, integrating VoiceFriend with the Icon product and setting us up for success, but we're not resting on our laurels, and we are innovating very aggressively now and I think we are gonna be making some pretty dramatic leaps over the next six to 12 months, and I think coming up in Q4, you're going to see for the first time some of these really interesting, exciting things and it'll give a great preview into the direction that we're heading. This market's ever changing, technology's ever changing and we want to be at the front of it.Amber Bardon:
Where can our listeners find more information about Icon ? Where can they stay up to date on all these exciting innovations coming out in the next few months?Ryan Galea:
Absolutely! GoIcon .com is a great place to check out . We post a lot of content that kind of foreshadows what's coming out if we haven't publicly talked about it yet. I try to do a monthly webinar that listeners can tune into where I'll share a bit about what we're building, preview some of the tech. We did a great one on AI last month where I previewed, we integrated ChatGPT into the VoiceFriend product, and so I gave you a little sneak peek into what that might look like. And then also feel free to follow me on LinkedIn, I try to write a blog post for two every couple weeks about what I'm seeing, what we're thinking about doing next.Amber Bardon:
Fantastic! Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I certainly learned a lot and had a lot of my questions about the merger answered .Ryan Galea:
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me!Amber Bardon:
And listeners, if you would like to provide feedback on this episode or if you have ideas for future episodes, you can find us online at www.ParasolAlliance.com, and then go to our Resources page and then click podcast. Thank you for listening!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Amber Bardon, has a captivating conversation with Ryan Galea, CEO of Icon, where he illustrates how Icon's all-in-one engagement platform is enhancing communication and boosting resident & family engagement
at Senior Living communities.
Formerly CareMerge and VoiceFriends, Icon gives your Senior Living community the tools to communicate and engage with your entire community including residents, families, and staff efficiently and effectively on a HIPAA-compliant platform. Discover how Icon can help reduce overtime at Senior Living communities by up to 10% and learn more about the benefits of using Icon by listening to the entire episode.
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living. Today I am your host, Patrick Leonard. And we're gonna talk about critical topic of communication in senior living communities today. And I won't go too far into it because we have an awesome guest today, Katherine Wells from Serenity that I wanna welcome to the show. Katherine, welcome.Katherine Wells:
Thank you. I'm super excited to be here.Patrick Leonard:
We're super excited to have you. We've had over the last few months, but always have enjoyed our conversations and really passionate about what you all do and our provide specifically as it relates to the senior living space. So I'm excited to dive into this topic further with you today. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, would you mind just starting things off by giving our listeners a little bit of background about yourself and about Serenity?Katherine Wells:
Absolutely. So I spent my entire career in the IT world. I marketed and sold and product managed software for IT departments and software engineers. And about 2010 my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's-like dementia. And as she started to progress in that disease and we eventually moved her into memory care, I stepped into the role of primary family communication coordinator. So I was the person communicating with all the different people providing care. And then as my dad moved into assisted living not long after that number grew pretty extensively and it was very difficult to manage. In fact, I did it on spreadsheet and had 37 different providers I was communicating with about my parents' care and they weren't really talking to each other and they weren't really talking to me. And so I knew that was a problem for me, but I also knew I could solve the problem if the industry wanted to solve it. So I went out and did 300 interviews. I shadowed for three months. I lived in my mom's memory care for nine days. And I saw that the people in this industry are absolute heroes. They give up their life for the care that they're providing and they want to do a better job of communicating and coordinating care and being in lockstep with all the other people providing care. They just didn't have a way. So we created Serenity. Wow,Patrick Leonard:
What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing that with us. It's always so cool to hear from founders on their founding story about why they got into this crazy but amazing world of senior living and particularly on the senior living technology side. There's just so many nuances and so many creative and innovative things coming out all the time, especially over the last five years or so. So I'm always so curious how people got into it. And your story is, is certainly a powerful and meaningful one, one that's near and dear to your heart. So thank you for sharing that.Katherine Wells:
Yeah, it is. If you really look at it from the senior living perspective, the primary family coordinator or could be power of attorney or could just be the primary family member that you're communicating with, is really ultimately the economic buyer. And not everybody thinks about it that way, but the idea that they are an economic buyer, whether they're actually writing the check themselves out of their own checkbook or writing one out of their parents' checkbook, they might also just be sitting on their parents' shoulder and saying, I need you to move to this community because they'll communicate with me or because I vetted them already, I know all the behind the scenes and or they're closer to me because let's face it, location is super important in addition to the care.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, absolutely. There's so many factors that go into it. And with that, what you created sounds like there's multiple problems or opportunities you're looking to solve with what you've created with Serenity. So can you just dive a little bit deeper into that you saw this opportunity based on your own experience and can you talk a little bit more about how you're hoping to address those or are addressing that with Serenity? 'cause as you mentioned, there's a lot of different stakeholders involved here. So I think that looks a little different for each member of that kind of circle, if you will , involved in this process. So if you dive a little bit deeper into that and just kind of explain how it all works.Katherine Wells:
Yeah, and it's a great question because there are a lot of people involved and that is where those care transitions, the communication between providers, it's where things drop and and it's what we wanna remove the friction from. So we wanna make it very simple and easy for communication to take place. So think of Serenity as a platform of communication as well as a network. So on this platform of communication, our goal is to remove the friction from the entire senior care journey for everyone. So I had 37 different people I was communicating with. Some people might only have five, some people might have one. It kind of depends. There could be a lot of people, there could be a few people, there could be home health involved, there could be home care involved, there could be hospice involved, there could be a doctor, they call them house call doctors. So on this platform we allow everyone to communicate with each other and that can include the family as well as all the various people. That also includes the care recipient, who is the person receiving the care. So we initially started with just a messaging platform that's HIPAA compliant, that allowed a senior living community to communicate with family. A lot of people are trying to solve that problem. So we knew, okay, this is great 'cause a lot of people are trying to solve this problem. We're not the only ones. So how do we differentiate and what additional value do we bring to the table? I was not in the senior living space until 20 17, 20 18. So I certainly don't wanna come in and say, I know everything. I can fix all your problems. I spent a lot of time in the field learning what they're doing, watching what they're doing, watching where help was needed. And then Covid of course showed us that loneliness and isolation kills people that when we have a staffing shortage, we're in big trouble and we've come out of Covid with a huge massive staffing shortage. So how can we help optimize the time for the caregivers? So I look at Serenity as the people behind the scenes who are helping with processes and procedures and optimizing time for staff so that we can automate what a machine can do, leaving humans availability to do what humans are uniquely designed to do. And that's provide the care. So we also have the messaging component. We also have workflows and e-forms and e-signature. We have Alexa for senior living, which allows us to have an in-room concierge for older adults in senior living. And that allows them to be more independent. They have the ability to make video calls with their families, they can call each other. We have this adorable couple in one community who one lives in assisted living, one, one lives in memory care and they'll have a care partner in the memory care help that one get on the Alexa and video chat with her husband. And it's just the most amazing, sweetest thing because even though they're in the same community, they're pretty far apart and he has to go outside to visit her. So just closing that gap for people so that everybody knows what's happening and it's fully transparent. And I think that's one of the things when you have a staffing shortage, you have a lot of people providing care for an older adult, sharing the care of that older adult, keeping all of those people in lockstep with each other is really hard. And that's the the problem that we've tackled.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Well that's awesome. And so that makes a lot of sense and I love you sharing this story about the residents and their loved one kind of connecting and how your platforms empower that. That's the stories that you always love to hear with solutions like this. So I think you're right when you said earlier there are a handful of people out there who are trying to kind of solve the messaging and communication side of it between the residents and the staff family members. I think something that was unique when I think when we started talking in addition to all that was how the providers are involved in this as well. For me personally, I'm more curious about this because I'm not as familiar with how that process is all tied in. So I'd be curious to learn more about that and what that looks like and how the providers are tied into this. How reliance are you on their participation in the platform and you know, what does that felt like and seem like for the the family members, the staff and the rest ?Katherine Wells:
That is one of our unique features is that ability to connect providers in . So what most people do not know is that senior living was never designed to be a medical model. It was designed to be a social model to provide the very basic levels of care, especially assisted living, the assistance with the activities of daily living and maybe some medication management. So what has happened, because the acuity of residents has increased since assisted living first became a thing, the community itself has a medical person on staff and that's a director of nursing. And that director of nursing is not really there to provide this medical care. They're there to oversee the medication dispensing and management and coordinate with all of the people that they curate around them to provide that medical care. And that includes home health and hospice and physical therapy, occupational therapy, rounding, doctors, long-term care pharmacy. So they have all this communication with three. So they're supposed to have options for families to select from. So imagine they're working with two or three different hospice providers and two or three different home health providers and one long-term care pharmacy, probably one, maybe two house call doctors who are coming in and servicing. That gets to be unwieldy pretty quickly to stay on top of all of that communication. So what we do is we create a shared communication channel that allows that director of nursing to communicate directly with the folks at each one of those different organizations. So they'll basically have a list, a list of communication channels, one for each of those providers and they have one place to go and they can communicate with all of them. So communication between the providers is anything that today they would call each other for, in some cases they'll text each other, not HIPAA compliant, not secure. So they have to be aware. It's also not transparent. So it's communication between them. If it happened to be a group text thread, let's say one of those people leaves the organization, they're still on that thread. You can't get rid of it. Serenity just takes all of that away and puts it into a nice, easy, organized way to communicate. And it allows you to put people into that channel and pull people out as you need to without giving personal phone numbers either. So that it's very simple to keep everybody in touch, but without giving out personal data, the communication that takes place there can be anywhere from, Hey, we're running late today. We'll be there in 45 minutes to, I am gonna see Miss Martha in room 25 0 1 today. I heard that she had a fall last night. Do you have any additional information for me or how is she doing today? So that might be something that the rounding doctor would message to the director of nursing. The long-term care pharmacy, we actually have a long-term care pharmacy that uses Serenity as it is main form of communication with the Director of Nursing. And it has eliminated the fax machine, completely eliminated it so they can just share scripts and doctor's orders and to even take a photo of a medicine or a cream and post it and say, we need a refill of this for this patient. All of that goes through Serenity and it makes it all transparent and right there in the platform so that everybody knows what's happening. You know, one common scenario is an older adult falls and has to be taken to the er, the rounding doctor or maybe occupational therapist is coming to see that person the next day at the community. So the director of nursing can just post Ms . Martha was sent to the ER last night. That allows the provider who was gonna see them to say, okay, I can take her off my schedule, I'll follow up with her after she gets back from the hospital and maybe she doesn't even have to go to the community that day.Patrick Leonard:
So thanks for painting the picture of what those types of communications look like. So correct me if I'm wrong and I'm oversimplifying this, I apologize, but for all that makes sense in my mind, I'm envisioning almost the unification of something like a Slack for my internal communication with my team here at work with my healthcare provider's portal where I had messaged back and forth with the nurses and medical records. I'm imagining all these things kind of being unified and brought together in a central location where all the necessary party with one login , I can communicate with all these necessary parties. Am I articulating that and digesting that correctly or is there something I missed? ThereKatherine Wells:
You are . You are everyone in one place communicating and collaborating and educating and following workflows. And that's really important because that's what saves the staff time. And they don't have to think about it because it's in an automated workflow. So they can manage the process of medication management very simply. They can onboard a new resident, they can send out a referral to a hospice provider, for example. So everyone in one place. And the interesting thing here is I used Slack long before I moved into the senior care space, but people in the senior care space don't know what Slack is a lot of times. So it's like explaining Slack in even a more robust way. It's really robust Slack, but specifically designed for this space for senior care. So we're fully HIPAA compliant. Could you use Slack? You probably could, but you'd have to use the HIPAA compliant version, which is ultra expensive because they charge by user and you have to have a minimum of a thousand users on there and you couldn't just quickly add families and other people into the platform. So we're designed to be used on the go. We're very, very simple to use so that anyone at any level of technical expertise is able to use the platform.Patrick Leonard:
That's amazing. So what does the engagement look like from your experience across the different stakeholders that you mentioned? I imagine it looks a little different from residents versus staff versus the providers involved, the family members. How are they all responding? Are there any specific kind of use cases you can point to that helps paint a picture around how they're kind of engaging with this and and really digesting it and utilizing it to make all their lives easier?Katherine Wells:
Yeah, I can tell you for families, we have clients, we have senior living providers who have told us that people move into their community because of the way they'll communicate via Serenity. So it's basically in a very, very simplistic way. You could also think about Serenity as an app for that community. The family gets a login provided by the community, they log in, they can see all the activities, they can see the menu, and then they have this private channel of communication that is just about their loved one. And they can ask how's Mom's depend supply? That was the bane of my existence for my mom. I never knew how many she had left until it was too late and they were down to zero and they needed me to come right now and bring some more right <laugh> . So that kind of communication with family builds trust and it makes it super easy for family. I mean, you know, family members, let's face it, they're Gen Z, they're millennials, they're Gen X, like me. And we expect technology. I fully expect somebody to communicate with me this way. I don't want to pick up the phone and dial a phone number and wait for someone to answer to be put on hold and be transferred around and then have to leave a message and maybe get a phone call back in three days. So from the family side, it gives them a window into the care of their loved one that they don't have right now. The family side's, the easy side, the providers so that the senior living staff, when they log in, they have communication channels that they've been assigned to. So there'll be an all staff channel, there'll be an education channel, there'll be a channel about announcements from the community. So that internal communication. So they aren't necessarily all gonna be communicating with family. So they wouldn't have communication channels with all the family members, but they would have their internal communication and that keeps everybody in the community in lockstep. And then for the third party providers who are coming in, they would log in and they would actually see all the different senior living communities they deal with. So for them, the benefit is they log into Serenity and they say, okay, I'm going to the gardens at St . Elizabeth today, so I'm gonna go to that channel and see what's been going on, and I'm gonna tell them I'll be there at 10 and any sort of updates I need to share or anything that might be happening with one of their residents. And then they'll have another channel with Community A and Community B and community C. So they can just keep going down that list. And they have full direct communication with each of the directors of nursing at the multiple senior livings they service.Patrick Leonard:
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for walking through the different kind of stakeholders and how they engage at a high level. It makes me think of another question as we're talking about this and bringing so many things together in one unified platform, is there still a need to integrate with some of of the other systems that the community might be using? For example, EHR system, or if the use of Serenity even starts as early as a sales process, is it something that's integrating and communicating with the CRM? So can you talk a little bit about that, about the interconnectivity with other platforms that might be powering the operations of the community?Katherine Wells:
Yeah, we have an open a p I , so we'll integrate with anyone because we come from the tech world. We know that building applications that integrate is super important in this industry. We lovingly call it app Jenga in the senior living industry. It is like app Jenga for the poor communities who are trying to keep up with all these different apps that they have and who does what. And there's a little bit of crossover here or there. So I think that's normal when an industry is undergoing a digital transformation because prior to 2018 there was not a lot of tech in senior care and still we're replacing very manual processes in a lot of our clients. So integration is super important. We have an open a p i, we don't want to be the source of record, we are the source of continuity of communication across everybody. So each one of those platforms like the EHR--they're an inch wide and a mile deep. That's great. We don't wanna be a mile deep. We're a mile wide and an inch deep across all of them, bringing them together. It does start at the sales cycle. And every one of my clients will tell you that that's one of the first things they show is here's how we're gonna communicate with you . Family too often has been told, we're gonna over communicate, we're gonna over communicate, and then they move mom in and they don't get any communication. So they've been burned. So they're really looking for that. And it has been a driver for people to move into certain communities. The piece that I left out from the user experience is the resident user experience. And that brings us to our Alexa for senior living, which is in a closed , secure network. It's a commercial deployment. Think of it like in a hotel, when you walk into a hotel, there's a TV there, it's already programmed, it has your favorite music playing or it has some music playing, it has a TV channels, et cetera. So that's a commercial deployment where all of the content is controlled by the hotel. Same thing with these Alexa devices. They're the video devices, the Alexa show devices and they sit in the resident's room and they constantly are sort of rotating gently information about what's coming up for dinner, what's coming up on the activities. That's where they can say, Alexa, call my daughter. Alexa call for help. So it's a great backup to a nurse call system because I don't know about you, but my dad never conveniently fell right next to a pole cord . And he refused to wear his little pendant around his neck or on his wrist because it made him feel old. But anywhere he fell, he could say, Alexa call for help. So the Alexa show device, it also allows them to check in if they're independent living, they can just say, Alexa, I'm checking in this morning. Done. They don't have to go outside and you know, flip something around where someone on the staff has to go run around and check and make sure everybody's thing is flipped and that means they're doing okay and they're up and moving. So we just automate all of those things and reduce the staff time and make it so easy for the older adults because it truly becomes a bit of a friend for them. And that's the interaction that they have. That's the user experience that they have.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome. Thanks for walking us through the resident experience. At the end of the day, that's kind of the most important. It all ties into it what the staff's doing, of course, so important to providers, but at the end of the day, those two parties are all after, you know, making the residents life easier and the family members. So that was a great use case and the power that Alexa can bring combined with your platform. So. Well this has been an amazing discussion, Katherine. I've learned a lot. I know our listeners are gonna learn a lot. But before we wrap up, is there anything else that you're dying to let listeners know, either about Serenity, where it's at today, or even what's coming next in this realm of communication?Katherine Wells:
Yeah, I think communication is the foundation of everything. And it's a process. It's not an event. It's not something you do once a month when you send out a newsletter. That's not how communication works. And building trust is the most important thing that you can do for your margin. That means your top line and your bottom line. And I would just say, look at all the different communication systems that you might have in-house. You have email, you have phones, you have your nurse call system, you have fax machines. People are texting, whether you tell them not to, doesn't matter, they're texting, I promise you. And none of that is transparent and none of it is within your ability to see what's happening in your own community. So I would just encourage people to look for how can you create a unified platform for all communication across the board and make life so easy for your staff. Serenity pays for itself and less than six months, make life easy for your staff and they'll be able to provide better care for your residents.Patrick Leonard:
I love that. And on a great note. Well, Katherine, thanks again for taking the time today to educate our listeners and myself on this topic. Listeners, I hope this was helpful. Please go check out Serenity online or reach out to Katherine directly to learn more because this is a very powerful solution for the senior living community and the industry at large. And listeners, once again, thanks for tuning in to another episode of Raising Tech. If you have any feedback or if you have an idea for a topic or you wanna be on an episode yourself, please feel free to reach out www.ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has a thought-provoking conversation with Serenity’s CEO, Katherine Wells, about how Serenity’s HIPAA-compliant communication platform and network connect Senior Living communities’ staff, residents and their families.
Serenity’s single conversation platform allows everyone included in the residents’ everyday life to communicate in one place. Discover how Serenity’s communication solution removes the friction from everyone included in residents’ Senior Living journeys.
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living. I'm your host, Patrick Leonard. Today we're gonna talk about a topic that might not come top of mind when you think about technology and senior living communities. However, it's certainly touched by technology are also our products that are utilized every single day in senior living communities by the residents themselves. And so those products are simply chairs and beds utilized in the resident rooms. So we're gonna talk a lot more about that and what makes them unique of course. But with that, I'm gonna introduce our guests for today, Steve Rakus and Laura Bell from Accora. Steve and Laura, welcome to the show.Laura Bell:
Hiya, hi everybodySteve Rakus:
And thanks for having us.Patrick Leonard:
Of course. Thanks for being here. So to start our listeners off, can you give us a little bit of background just real quick of an intro, Steve and Laura about yourselves and your roles with Accora. Steve, if you don't mind starting .Steve Rakus:
Sure, that sounds good. I happened to be a registered nurse by trade initially and then moved on to the Navy, got an MBA in healthcare administration, which turned me onto the business aspect of how to provide nursing solutions to customers throughout the healthcare industry. It's been a long <laugh> , a long journey, almost 40 years . It's been wonderful. I'm excited to be involved in this particular industry and what we do currently helping solve problems in the long-term care community with Accora. They have some very innovative products. I cover personally the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states from Virginia to Maine. Surprisingly, It's about the size of England actually, which is fascinating and I don't know if you can tell, but I love doing what I do. We're having tremendous success. And without Laura, I couldn't do this.Laura Bell:
Well, I'm Laura Bell and I am over here in the United Kingdom. As you can probably tell from my accent, I'm English and I work over here doing marketing and some events coordination for the us . So we do have a UK and a US , subsidiary, but I work 80% of my time on the US.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome. Well thank you both for that intro and yeah Steve, we had a chance to meet at a LeadingAge Conference and could certainly tell that was, you know , one of the reasons we wanted to bring you on to the show is because you can just tell, show in two seconds from talking to your passion for Accora and the products that you all offer for senior living. So excited to have the discussion today. So for those who aren't familiar, can you tell us a little bit about Accora and what problem you all are looking to solve in senior living communities ?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. Accora is a unique company. They're quite innovative . It's a family owned company. There's four brothers and a sister and they're devoted to causes. One of the key causes that they want to try to eliminate is injuries that are caused by falls . So the horrible problem worldwide. Every single facility suffers from this problem and has attacked it innovatively, uniquely and quite successfully. I'm here to say through experience of about five years now here, we've really changed the landscape here in the US and they've been changing the landscape throughout the world for at least 20 years, which is quite exciting. And they also tackle the problem of positioning and comfort, which every human being wants to be comfortable, probably very, very difficult to get comfortable as we age and also as we aren't as healthy and mobile as we used to be . And so therefore you were able to see a couple of those products that I showed at the trade show and they're extremely successful at doing what they do and eradicating or alleviating these problems, which is quite fulfilling if you'll on my part and quite and quite fulfilling on the staff of the facilities part because they're the ones who have to try to meet these needs and we create innovative tools to do that.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thanks for that. And so can you tell us all a little bit more specifically, I mentioned in our intro chairs and beds in the residence rooms , obviously I'm sure I'm not doing it justice by simplifying it to that point. Can you tell us a little bit more specifically about the range of products and solutions that you all offer Accora?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. We passionately try to attack the problem of injuries caused by falls. So we created the first floor bed and the unique floor bed because of the technology that it took to get the bed to at the lowest level possible, literally on the floor with the purpose of eliminating injuries caused by falls from beds. The higher you are when you fall from a bed, the more severe your impact to the ground will be and therefore your injury. These injuries range from broken bones to bruises, contusions, and in some cases they actually lead to death of the individual. So we want so badly to prevent that from happening and then we actually want to prevent the actual fall from happening. So by bringing the bed to the floor level, that helps to do that as well as a safety mat that goes along with that, that keeps them from changing planes, which would cause them to report a fall. So our ultimate goal is to eliminate injuries from falls and have the facilities be able to also eliminate those injuries and not have to report falls because they didn't really happen. So we energetically introduced the FloorBed One, here about five years ago. It's been throughout the world and I mean Accora has been around for at least 20 years. So the rest of the world sometimes knows a little bit more about this products than we do. But now they know now they're having dramatic decreases in the number of falls. In many cases eliminating the potential for a fall from the bed. I always joke with the facilities that the floor bed can't help them in the dining room or in the bathroom, but it's extremely effective with the residents in their room . So we progressed now to the level where we have an Empresa floor bed, which incorporates everything facilities worldwide need. They want to have a home-like look for the bed. So it is , it's real wood, it does look like it belongs in the home, makes the families and the residents very, very comfortable like they're in their home and yet it meets all the criteria that facilities have to meet to be compliant with all the current codes for anti-entrapment and just really try and prevent fall . So that's hard to do, <laugh> to comply with everything, make it look good, make it effective, but we're extremely successful at doing so. And I'm proud to say facilities that have received this bed or purchased this bed have noticed a dramatic increase in falls. And our second product that we do kind of parallel with that is comfort and positioning. We try to attack those problems. The older we get, it's harder to get comfortable. And so with the tools that are out there, there's still some improvements that could be made. And what we've done is created the Configura Advanced comfort chair, another absolutely gorgeous looking chair, which is off the battle right there. You gotta look good and incredibly comfortable because of the technology used with the material that is made with it has four-way stretch so that the resident can sink into the , the mattress, immerse into the cushions, thereby redistributing their pressure. And in English we call that comfort <laugh> and it's extremely, extremely comfortable. The unique advantage to this chair compared to every other chair on the planet is it's configurable, hence the name Configura, without tools, the rehab department professionals, the occupational therapists, physical therapists are able to adjust the chair width and the depth of the seat to perfectly match a resonant, a resident's size and proportions. And also can move the foot plate so it gives support to the legs, which really no other chair that I'm aware of can do. And so those are the passionate problems that we're trying to help solve. Falls injuries, comfort and position it . And we're quite good at it.Laura Bell:
If I could just jump in there, Steve for a sec, if that's all right ? One of the biggest things about the configure advanced chair that are so popular is that you don't need to wait for the maintenance guy to come along and adjust it. So when Steve says it's completely adjustable, he also means that you can adjust it yourself for your residents with click lock brackets. So you don't need any tools to adjust it to make it perfect for the specific resident that's sitting in it in that minute. You can do it yourself and affect their comfort right then and there because you know what's best for the individual resident, the nurses do. So you can do that yourself. AllSteve Rakus:
All without tools.Laura Bell:
All without tools. Just a pair of hands.Patrick Leonard:
<laugh>, Pair of hands, most powerful tools. Yes , indeed. That's great. Yeah, thanks for providing some more detail because again, I saw firsthand it's much more than just beds and chairs. You know, I saw you with one button or one single movement, the bed was completely configurable, the chairs were completely configurable. I sat down a nd t hem m yself, it was extremely comfortable. I , I think if I didn't have a bunch of coffee at the conference, I would've fallen a sleep a little bit. Tell me a little bit more about the technology. You touched on it a little bit just now with the fabric, the technology from that sense, and then about just the configurability without tools, some of that technology. Can you touch on a little bit more specifically b ecause I would not be doing this podcast j ustice i f I didn't bring up technology, of course, how these products and solutions a re l everaging t echnology specifically, if you don't mind?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. We have a team of engineers in our innovations department that are constantly looking ahead 5, 10, 20 years into the future using all the tools at their disposal and sometimes creating new tools to incorporate the advances in technology and how to bring them to the market if you'll to attack and direct that technology toward these massive problems, which are, like I say are worldwide. The interesting thing about what we're doing, it's not specific to the US, to the UK, to any country. It's people worldwide, people that are suffering. We're trying to take what's there and also what's in the future and incorporate it into our products. The way that that bed moves, the engineering, the technology and the way that the head and feet elevate and all beds currently when the head is elevated, the pivots at a joint and therefore the resident starts sliding down in the bed and then they bend the knees of the bed and then what happens there, it causes excess pressure in the patient's sacral area, which could lead to a pressure ulcer. So with the technology in this bed, the Empresa, it actually retracts a little bit and then comes up and then the fleet also retracts a little bit as it comes up and that widens the space and the sacral area . So that much, much less pressure is there and it's the only bed that I know of that will do that. So not only will it also eliminate falls and injuries caused by falls, but it will also contribute to the lesser chance of a pressure ulcer developing, which is very, very important for so many other reasons because you could die from a fall, you could also die from a pressure ulcer as it gets infected and gets deeper and starts doing its damage to the tissue there. So that part of technology is quite impressive and it's pretty exciting to see how it's formulated into the construction and the operation of the bed. Same thing with the bed. You can hit one button and I think you saw this at the trade show and the bed starts tilting and going into a chair like position. So they're kind of in a chair like position without leaving the bed because some people, their condition is so severe that they cannot even leave the bed. And that's where the technology that is employed with the Empresa design will allow them to mimic the position they'd be in in a chair as well, all while looking good in that homelike bed , which is a major goal of all facilities. So it's pretty neat how the engineers have taken that technology and put it into these products for the skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, group homes, etc. Again, throughout the world and just being met with incredible success once they see this, once they know that this exists. And that's where I work so closely with Laura in marketing. She also helps me increase that awareness in a different way using technology actually <laugh> . And it's pretty cool how everything works together in this day and age.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Thanks for that. And so if people aren't using Accora and these products and solutions and the technology that you all have incorporated in these beds and chairs, what are they doing instead? When you are offering this, are they typically using just your standard bed and chairs that you would see at the store or hospital type beds? Tell us a little bit more about if people aren't utilizing this , what are they dealing with today?Steve Rakus:
If you've ever been in a facility, if you're visting a loved one in some of the facilities , they're using hospital beds if will because the bed needs to be able to move, most of them now are electric. I think we've gotten rid of most of the old fashioned cranking beds and I had mentioned every bed in long-term care that I'm aware of has the ability to go low . They're trying to go low. The other beds used to be 14, 15 inches up in the air , which is a tremendous drop and a tremendous impact for injury. So over the last 20, 30 years, they made a concerted effort to make a best practice being that all beds must be able to go what they call a low bed . Now an average height of a low bed is eight to 10 inches from the ground. That's how low it'll go. And that has helped somewhat. But unfortunately if that was doing the trick, we wouldn't have as many falls and unfortunate injuries. I really want to stress falls are one thing, but the injury because of the fall is what's really devastating to everybody involved. The resident themselves, the family, the facility themselves, everybody. So our floor bed for a standard low bed will go eight to 10 inches off the ground. Our floor bed goes all the way down to two and three quarter inches off the ground and a mattress goes on the bed. And when that bed is in the floor level position, we also have a safety mat, which is like a fall mat only, it's the same exact height as the bed with the mattress on the ground. So you basically have taken that twin bed because it's a 36 inch wide bed, hospital bed and you've basically made it almost a queen size bed. So you've given the residents more room to roll without falling and therefore that will stop, number one the fall and most importantly will stop the injury. And that's what's most exciting . And our Empresa has taken that initial floor bed technology, which is unlike anything in the world, and found a way to get our motors underneath the bed and still only be 3.9 inches off the ground again with our safety mat that brings it to level field . So they have almost like a queen size bed to sleep in to live in . And it goes a long, long way to helping to stop those falls. People who are falling three or four times a week, they bring in the Empresa FloorBed and it immediately the falls stop . And they're still in compliance with all the regulations that they've got to meet to exist in long-term care as a facility. So we're very , very proud of that and the results are speaking for themselves.Laura Bell:
If I could just add that there's a heavy conversation right now in long-term care about the power of artificial intelligence in sensing falls , which is brilliant. They're making leaps and bounds in that, you know, I don't want to mention any brand names, but their results are impressive at detecting falls. The only problem with just detecting falls is that it's often too late to do anything about them. So in terms of technology that protects and prevents injury, preventable falls engineering is one of the key ways that we can do that. And that's what we feel passionate about at Accora. It's not just showing what we did wrong, what we miss , the mistakes that we made that we can do better next time. It's about preventing them in the first place because as Steve says, a fall can be devastating, can be fatal, and the issue will only increase due to the aging population and more baby boomers coming in every day . So for us, the real simplified kind of technology at its origin is just engineering. So that's how we use our technology to prevent falls where other software or SAS products, you know, they might fall short of actually preventing the falls that are happening.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, thanks for mentioning that because there are a lot of amazing and innovative falls prevention and detection solutions coming out there and it seems like there's certainly some synergies between what you all are offering and what some of those solutions could offer as well as kind of a complete solution to both prevent and detect these falls and to stop them from happening as much as possible. So I really appreciate you bringing that up so it's clear the benefits. Can you talk just a little bit more about how are staff responding and what practically implementing these beds and chairs in the rooms look like as their training or ongoing maintenance of the bed that people should be considering if this is a solution for them ?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. What I do is I bring the bed and the chair around with me between Virginia and Maine to really any facility that's interested. I literally bring them to the facility, get them inside the facility, gather around a variety of different professionals, from administrators to directors of nursing, directors of rehab, OTs, occupational therapies , physical therapists, nurses, nurses' aides . And it's fascinating to watch the demo. It's the same, it repeats itself everywhere we go, they know that there's a problem and they're at their wits end because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result. Well, if someone's falling, they try everything they can do, they get the bed as low as they can that they have, but unfortunately they're still getting injured. And so what else is there to do? And they see this as a solution and when we show them this, they're nodding consistently. They're smiling consistently because they know that we're hitting the nail on the head and they get very excited because I say moving from the normal, all the functions of the bed and then bringing it down to a low bed level, which is what they're used to , low bed level down to the floor. I say that for the end of course as the pièce de résistance. I'm sorry , speaking some French in there, Laura, <laugh>, but their jaws drop because it's been five years now here in the US still, there's a lot of places we haven't got to . I'm working on it and my colleagues throughout the country are working on it, but we haven't got everywhere yet. When they see that bed go from a low level, which is what they're doing and they see it go to the floor, a lot of things happen in their mind. But first of all they go, wow. And then they go, "oh my god, all my other beds I think are low, aren't really, really low." And so it's a realization then when they know that there's a solution out there, they start having action, they go, we've got to get this because we can get them very, very quickly. That's one other thing about Accora is we have a tremendous amount of stock and supply . So we have no supply chain crisis . When somebody says to me, "Steve, this is great, I'm going to get 30 new beds this year anyways, I order 30 of these Empresa FloorBeds. Now how soon can I get them ?" And in my region we ship everything out of Columbus, Ohio. So in my region we can get them 30 beds in two days and they're mind boggling with that. And the same thing with parts. It's a big concern with all the maintenance directors in facilities is getting parts because they've got beds that have been there for 20, 30 years and some of those models have gone out of existence and therefore the parts are no longer available. So you had asked the question, you gonna have maintenance, but how are they liking what we do? They love what we do because the great guarantee that we have, the warranty we have is better than anything I'm aware of for our bed. It's 12 years on the frame of the Empresa and four years on all the electronics, which is what usually breaks, well usually breaks is a handset that controls the bed and the reason they break is because they drop it and then a wheelchair rolls over it. Now I said, that may not be warranty, but we'll cover everything we possibly can and you as a maintenance director Accora requires, this is real important for them to hear this, we as a manufacturer require them to do absolutely zero preventive maintenance on our bed to maintain that warranty. Same thing with the chair. There's no preventive maintenance that we require and that is kind of revolutionary. And that all ties back into the technology, the engineering that's there. What you're seeing with the Empresa FloorBed, and you saw it at the trade show, was the latest advances implemented in technology engineering, all for the common purpose of eliminating injuries, eliminating falls from the bed. And also with our chair to provide comfort and positioning in the most aggressive way. I just wanna attack that problem. And that's the response we get from the staff. I joke with whoever's bringing me in there, like introducing me to a facility, and I think I said this to you and Kati at the trade show is their job is to count how many times they say, "wow!" The administrator says, "wow," the DON says "wow," the wound nurse because we can help them with the wound with preventing pressure ulcers. They go , "wow, how does a bed do that?" And I show them how and then they go, "wow!" So I get at least seven or eight wows for every one of the demos that we do. It's quite pleasing. And then with follow up on that two , three weeks later, a month later, how are those people who are falling, how are they doing? Invariably they say, well they're not falling from the bed, that's for sure. And that's music to our ears. That is our goal and it's very, very satisfying to see that already. I feel myself getting passionate about it again just like at the show. So I apologize for that, but it's unending and my work isn't done yet. Our work isn't done yet. We haven't gotten to every single facility yet. We're working on it and it's truly a fun journey , that's for sure. I'm well armed with technology innovation again, good looks, but not for me from the bed <laugh> and from the chair and of course provided everything that I could want as a representative of them and the support as well as solutions to these terrible problems. It's pretty cool to be be where we're right now and I'm glad you're helping us to spread the word.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Well that's great. It's always fun talking to you and never apologize for your passion because we love it and that's what the industry needs and thanks so much for providing such a great overview and sneak peek of how your solutions and your beds and chairs are really helping senior living residents and staff to do their job easier. So thanks for providing those perspectives there for us today.Steve Rakus:
Certainly we can't forget the families, they're so appreciative because they know their loved ones falling sometimes that's why they're in a facility because they're falling at home and getting hurt and they are responding by giving feedback to the facility who gives feedback to us and we can't leave the families out. They know what's going on. Everybody's pretty well informed on a lot of things. Sometimes the family has done some research and told the facility about this really cool FloorBed that's out there . So it comes from a lot of different ways . It's pretty cool.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome. Well, before we wrap up today , I just wanted to ask Steve or Laura , is there anything else our listeners should know about Accora or are there any final thoughts or words of wisdom if you will you want to provide to our listeners before we wrap up today?Steve Rakus:
I would say see this, look at it. Let us show you how this helps your problems of falling and positioning and comfort and even for pressure ulcers. And then I'd like to turn over to Laura to show you a whole other thing. A lot of people don't know, that we also provide with Laura's leadership that you might be surprised at what Accora provides to the world. So Laura, please take it away.Laura Bell:
Thanks Steve. So Accora's number one mission is to enable independence and champion dignity for the end users that use our products. But we are also really interested in helping long-term care and skilled nursing facility professionals to do their job even in a better way and often an easier way. <laugh> , because we know about the staffing crisis, it hurts. We know that training is hard to come by is expensive, it's a difficult situation for you guys out there in long-term care. We want to do everything that we can to help you and your staff to do care in a quality way. So we offer a free webinar program. We do a webinar usually every other month, which is completely free to attend and you can share it as many people can attend. So often people are all gathered around <laugh> one computer in the office and we tackle subjects that are close to your professional hearts. And we do cover about falls . It's not a product push, it's free education. And we have some of the best experts speaking on their specialisms in the US and other topics that we've covered. Pressure, injury prevention compliance. Our last webinar that we did just last month was about the top 10 cited FTT tags and federal tags that nursing facilities typically are tagged with and that can affect their marketability as well as impact on their residents. Actual wellbeing, of course, which is the number one concern for all of us in long-term care. Whether you're a vendor, a provider, a professional, we all want to keep our loved ones, our seniors safe for as long as possible and comfortable. So our webinars are designed to help long-term care professionals to efficiently care for our seniors, even in the midst of severe challenges in the industry. So we also offer blogs, articles, informative pieces, infographics and things like that. Content that really helps and is fast to consume because we know you've not got a hot minute. <laugh>, we know got zero minutes to spare. So whatever we can do to help keep you informed and up to date in the innovations that are available to you as healthcare professionals, we do our level best. So if you want to follow us, Accora Inc. on LinkedIn or check out our YouTube channel, then there's all sorts of snippet, bite-sized, educational content that you will definitely find will benefit you and your team. So there's a little something for everyone there.Patrick Leonard:
Perfect. Well again, Steve and Laura, thanks so much for taking the time today to educate our listeners on these topics . And listeners, thanks for tuning into another great episode of Raising Tech . If you have any feedback, a topic idea, or want to be on the episode yourself, please feel free to reach out to us on our website, www.ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has an engaging conversation with Steve Rakus & Laura Bell from Accora, about Accora's customizable bedding & seating technology, which helps prevent falls in Senior Living communities.
Discover more about Accora's FloorBed technology, which lets Senior Living communities' staff lower residents' beds all the way to the floor, reducing the chance of injuries for residents and staff. Also, learn more about Accora's Configura® Advance seating, which is easily adaptable for Senior Living communities' staff, while providing comfort and potential prevention of tissue damage for residents.
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living. I'm your host today, Patrick Leonard. I'm excited for today's discussion because we're bringing together guests from both a innovative technology solution as well as a senior living community operator to discuss the topic of finance automation. So, with that I'm excited to introduce our listeners to our guests, John Zaudtke from Paymerang and Scott Martinez from Juliette Fowler Communities. John and Scott, welcome to the show.John Zaudtke:
Thanks for having us, Patrick! Appreciate it.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. So like I mentioned, it's always fun when we have an innovative technology solution and a senior living product who's using that solution day-to-day in their operations of the community. So I'm really excited about our discussion and topic today. But before we really dive into everything, John , can you start things off by giving our listeners a little background about yourself and your role at Paymerang? I'll ask Scott to do the same.John Zaudtke:
Sure, Patrick. Afternoon, morning, wherever, whatever time it is you're listening to this. My name's John Zaudtke, I'm the Vice President of Sales here at Paymerang. Been with Paymerang now for, well, next month will be seven years. So, but in the payment space for total of 11. Here at Paymerang, we help automate the office of the CFO through an accounts payable automation product. So, you know, very similar to what ADP has done for payroll. Everyone knows ADP, that's a very common example. We do the same type of situation here on the accounts payable side . So helping communities receive, route, code, approve invoices, get them into their ERP, whether that's Business Central, MatrixCare, PointClickCare, whomever, NetSuite, and then ultimately the payments out on the backend, simple file export into our system for the payments we do all the enablement, all the payments, all the reconciliation, help protect against fraud. And we can talk more about that as we go. But just a little overview there of Paymerang really helping to automate the office of the CFO here for Senior Living communities.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thanks for that, John, and Scott, if you don't mind just doing a quick intro for yourself and kind of your role and a little bit about Juliette Fowler communities.Scott Martinez:
Yeah, absolutely. So Scott Martinez, I'm the CFO here at Juliette Fowler. I've been here for going on three years now and what Juliette Fowler communities as Patrick mentioned, we're in the senior living community on the not-for-profit side. We are in the space of everything from market rate independent living all the way through assisted living memory care and on the affordable side in both independent living and assisted living as well. So for a business like ours, you know, partnerships and products like Paymerang that help to automate some of those functions for the business office become key in helping us scale. Like I said, I've been with Fowler for three years but I've been in the healthcare space for almost 15, and I can say that ever since I've been in various levels of finance roles in healthcare, that's always been something we're looking to do, automate and streamline the more routine pieces of process so we can shift our resources more to problem solving. So that's, you know, what we continuously look to do here at Fowler and that's what my team's always crunched strive for .John Zaudtke:
You have a good point there, Scott. I mean we hear it all the time from CFOs, controllers, etc. In the business office. I'm always being told what can I automate? Go automate, go automate the labor shortage the way it is. We're always hearing that and and we're happy to be able to partner with you and help in that manner.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, absolutely. So on that topic, obviously we have two people who have a lot of background in this space, so no better two people to talk about this today but we hear about automation used in so many different use cases across the board today and it's coming more and more common in senior living communities. You know, finance automation might not be something who's someone who's not in finance doesn't talk about quite a bit. So John , do you mind just from a high level telling us a little bit, what does finance automation actually mean to the lay person and what problem is it really trying to solve for senior living communities today?John Zaudtke:
Yeah, again, I'll go back to the example I used earlier with payroll , right? That's one form of finance automation. It is really getting some of those more manual paper-based operations that handled within a business office and getting them automated , right? 10, 15 years ago people had no idea payroll wasn't broken. So they put in, but they started looking at ADP because that automates that process. It makes that process simpler. Very similar situation here. Like I mentioned before with Paymerang and just other organizations like us, it's automating some of those tedious tasks. Scott mentioned it before, let's get rid of the tedious paper heavy intensive processes that are in the business office. Let's automate them, turn them into an electronic format so they can focus on the higher level problem, strategic thinking issues within the office and the community as opposed to okay, let me get this paper circulated, let me get this check signed, stuffed mailed, reconciled, followed up on . It's getting all of those paper products and processes into an electronic format.Patrick Leonard:
Makes sense. And so Scott, are most senior living communities leveraging something like this, what are people doing if they're not using automation here? How did you kind of know at Juliette Fowler communities, and I'm not sure if you were using Paymerang before you got there or not, but from your perspective, when do you know it's time to leverage a tool like this and can you talk a little bit more about how your teams are responding to that?Scott Martinez:
Yeah, absolutely. So I would say that I don't believe a lot of communities in the senior living, specifically in the not-for-profit space are using payment automation today. And I think it's probably more from lack of awareness and then also the belief of the difficulty and the barriers to entry. What I will say with that, just real quickly on Paymerang is that they've helped make that process pretty streamlined. You know, we went live in less than two months and that was on our old outdated ERP system Great Plains and when we converted over to Business Central it was a pretty smooth transition on their side. We've obviously still got some kinks with getting some data out of Business Central , but that's something we're working on ourselves and with the Paymerang team. So the reason that I wanted to look at it and the reason that I've looked at it in my previous healthcare experience as well is traditionally in the business space specifically, I mean acute care hospitals are a lot larger than a lot of our senior living facilities. So bigger teams it doesn't mean as much but when you get into something our size, you need a lot of flexibility and multiple capabilities from your teammates. So you can't just have someone following the traditional process of routing paper invoices, making sure everything's documented appropriately, you know, writing out checks and putting invoice numbers and all those things because that takes a lot of time. And traditionally that role has not been more of an entry level role and there's not been a lot of movement with people once they enter that role in their career path. So I look at it for two reasons from our perspective. Number one, I believe that every entry-level role is just at an entry-level role, and I want my teammates to be able to learn about the business and grow and be able to move and support us in other aspects of the business. So in doing that, that means you have to establish processes that are gonna be easily retrainable and repeatable. And so that became important to us. Number two is I'm not a fan of paper is the way I'll put it. I don't like anything being printed, I don't like anything being handed from one place to another. I like to see data touchpoints and that comes from being a CFO and being a financial-minded person and wanting to see KPIs and wanting to see how long it's taking us with each step of the process to see where we can improve things. But it comes a little bit with technology and the love for technology and the idea that we can be better, we could be more efficient in those things that we do.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And obviously being a technology solutions company here at Parasol, we couldn't agree more. We're always, you know, going in and assessing different communities what the current state is of technology at the communities and there are just a lot of people, even if they have certain technology solutions that maybe aren't even just utilizing them properly and they're still doing things on paper so it causes double work, causes room for error and just a lot of wasted time and efficiencies that are wasted. So it's really refreshing to hear your perspective, especially in the seat you sit in to kind of provide that insight because it can seem I think, scary to some people who have been doing a certain way for so long. But I think once you start to make the jump and start taking little bites and chunks of progress forward, the long-term benefit is definitely worth it. So thanks for that perspective.John Zaudtke:
Scott, you talk about entry level and we see this a lot, we don't want to be a position elimination. There's still a very human element into automating any kind of process. Have you seen since implementing Paymerang, being able to have that AP person doing more for you and taking on other roles now they're not having to deal with the signing stuffing and mailing and reconciling of all those payments?Scott Martinez:
Oh a hundred percent, absolutely, and that's what we were looking for. So that's a topic that I didn't get into and I was just explaining earlier, but when you're looking at those entry-level positions and what normal pay range was in our state, it's towards the lower end and you can probably go get a job working at Buckee's or you know McDonald's or somewhere else and have less true responsibility, get paid more. In fact, I mean if you wanna work in other areas, there's a lot of now remote opportunities, you know, paying that same pay to not have you come in on-site every day . So the traditional AP paper process started to struggle long before because it's getting new people into the field and the younger generations are all more familiar with technology and so you gotta be able to take advantage of that. So when you talk about barriers to entry and what you're saying from pay component, that's a piece. And then what that meant for us as far as repurposing positions specifically at our organization, I have not had any position consolidation since we implemented Paymerang, but that was never the goal. My goal was to recruit higher talented individuals that were looking to learn and grow and then grow their responsibilities as well. And that is absolutely what we've seen. Now I've got, and I call them business office specialists because they don't just do AP, especially whenever we've got technology like this in place and OCR and other things like that. So we've been able to take a role that needed to be very specialized in reading invoices, data entry, validation, those kind of steps, and now they can focus on just the 20% of things that probably have a little bit more complexity or attention to detail needed to them from a problem-solving perspective on the AP side. And then they're able to also support us now on some accounts receivable items and some other treasury processes and things like that for the organization. So it's allowed us, like I said, to create additional talent and additional responsibility within a role that traditionally and let's just say in whatever state you're in, let's say the base rate for AP is somewhere between $15 and $17 an hour, but they're only specialize in AP. Now I can bring someone in more entry level , let's say at $20 an hour, but I can cross train them on multiple things and now I'm getting more out of them for the incremental cost of what it is for the payment processing piece that we're paying for Paymerang.John Zaudtke:
Yeah, and we've seen that across not only senior living but also multiple different industries that we work in where to that point,Scott. We've had folks hired as an AP person able to implement Paymerang, free up some time. Now they're junior accountants, now they're working in development, now they're working in other aspects of the business. With the labor market the way it is, it's really hard to find people and so being able to train and bring up your own people I think is just a huge, huge element of this automation that we're talking about.Scott Martinez:
So, speaking of kind of efficiencies that this is creating, I love the real life use cases and just already kind of painting a picture of the ROI of implementing a solution like this for multiple different angles from what you all were just discussing. But John , can you tell me a little bit about integration? That's such a huge thing in the world of technology today and there's so many different specialized tools out there that are doing different things in different areas of the business. I imagine this is another one where some form of integration between different systems would be crucial. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?John Zaudtke:
Yeah, absolutely. So two separate sides of the house here, the front end with the invoice automation piece, you need to have some sort of integration, whether that is through a file upload into the ERP, whether that is an API connection where you're able to feed data back and forth is super important, Business Central, that we're talking about here, we have a direct integration. We're in their Microsoft Apps store. It looks like you're in Business Central when you're in reality in our simply AP product. So there are tighter integrations there on the front side on the backside with payments, we've worked with well over 150 different ERPs . So your common ones that you see, Scott talked about Great Plains, Business Central, MatrixCare is a big one in the senior living space PointClickCare. We've worked with all those and really the nice thing on the payment side is it's a simple file export, right? So, there doesn't have to be constant communication. It's at the end of the week you say, okay, here's who I have to pay. Let me kick out a quick Excel file that gets loaded into the Paymerang site. Mark everything is paid, posted to the general ledger, they're done. They don't have to do the reconciliation, they don't have to do the Positive Pay, Positive Pay exceptions. They're not sending a separate file out for Nacha and ACH. It's one single file, which makes it very, very simple. Almost every ERP, we have not found one that we can't work with, but almost every ERP can kick out a checks to be issued type file which gives us the information we need to be able to go make those payments.Patrick Leonard:
Got it. Thank you! That's super helpful. And so when I think about any type of implementation of a new system or a new process, whether it be technology related or not, although most of these days are, there's always some type of struggle and preparation that you need to kind of rally the troops to get behind a change such as something like this. I imagine going from paper to automating these things. Scott, I'm always curious and it sounds like this is a super easy one. Of course, I think I heard two, I don't know if it was two weeks or two months, you're up and running. Either way, it was super impressive, but Scott, can you talk a little bit, I'm always curious what it feels like on the operator side when you're going through this particularly someone who's leading the team like this, are there any lessons you learned from going through this process or anything that you would want another community who's considering making a leap like this to know in advance before they dive into this?Scott Martinez:
Yeah, I would say it's about communication, communication, communication. So we were in a unique position because we were going through a lot of transition here at Fowler right when I came in. So, things needed to change and the organization had more of an appetite for it because we were just coming out of the quick rapid response periods that were COVID-19 and all the changes that had to happen there. But we still have people that have been here for over 10 years, you know, long-term employees that are very used to certain processes, and so being able to communicate with them the changes that are coming and how that's gonna look requires a lot of communication and it requires a lot of repeat communication and you know, a little bit of handholding and a little bit of getting everyone comfortable. We, in particular, are only using Paymerang's payment automation piece of their product right now, but we do have another OCR. But to get us to this place, I mean from the moment I got here, as I mentioned, I don't like paper because I can't track where paper's moved from one place to another. I started putting us on various forms even within Great Plains of different AP routing processes. So, we built something in SharePoint at one point in time, we were doing something just through email at one point in time, all trying to move away from the paper piece of it. So, those incremental steps in getting to the place of being able to bring on a Paymerang were what helped the organization accept it and absorb it a little bit quicker because we'd already been taking, you know, small steps along the way to get there. So what I would say is if you're an organization that's doing everything via paper today, you're not gonna implement Paymerang in two months. Just because they can do it doesn't mean your organization's ready to take it on and accept it. So I give them that credit because we were ready but we were ready because we took baby steps along the way for the first year plus that I was here to get us in the position to be able to move quickly with a product like Paymerang.Patrick Leonard:
John, anything to add to that?John Zaudtke:
Yeah, I think Scott brings up a lot of great points when we talk to a lot of communities it is very paper-based and heavy and what I always tell folks is like Scott said, take baby steps, put payments in first. Scott will tell you now I think implementation, depending on your ERPs , anywhere between five days to 30 days. It's super, super simple and put that in first. Get rid of that tedious work that doesn't affect a lot of the community, really just can affect that AP person to start but really make an impact there on your vendors. Start seeing that time savings, that efficiency, that security. And then looking at invoice automation, that's the next step there. I always recommend to folks, even if you're not going to Scott's point, if you're not going to a full invoice automation solution, set up an inbox, an firstname.lastname@example.org URL where those vendors can start and get used to sending those invoices to that inbox as you take that next step into invoice automation that will automatically feed into that IA product that you use. And again, it's a baby step but it makes a huge difference as you're rolling out these products trying to get everything in one central place.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, that's a good point. I think that's a good lesson for anybody who's diving into any new type of process change or technology implementation is you have to take baby steps, you have to properly communicate, set the team up for success and no, you can't do everything at once. So I think that's really good practical advice from both ends there . And you know two--Scott Martinez:
Patrick, what I would add too on, right? The communication piece is, I talked on the teammate side, but when you're in the senior living space and the not-for-profit senior living space of smaller organizations, it really is also on the vendor side. Yeah , so I think that the Paymerang team validate this for me in looking at our account and our vendors, just like every organization, we've got our share of your national vendors that everyone knows that are probably already on ACH or credit card with another client, and so it's an easy conversion but then we've got large portion of our vendors that are smaller, mom and pop may not be as familiar with that and are a lot more used to coming in and talking to your AP team and having checks handed to them versus things coming in the mail or logging in and setting up their ACH and things like that. So, it's a communication and learning process on that side as well. And I put as much effort into it as we could have. I didn't communicate enough to those vendors whenever we made that transition, I felt confident in our bigger vendors but I just didn't realize how much of an impact it would be on our smaller vendors, how much additional communication and handholding we need to provide. That's another key point I would add there in the communication and bringing people along.John Zaudtke:
Yeah, absolutely, and I think that speed to solution as we talked about, that's one thing here Paymerang, we want to make sure, so Scott, you probably remember this, we gave you inserts to put into your checks while we were going through implementation to announce that that's great for the smaller companies. I tell my team all the time, I'm gonna tell you something two, three times before you finally absorb it. <laugh> So, continually to talk to those vendors, making sure that they're aware more and more companies are moving to this so they're becoming more comfortable with it. But that communication piece, both from the community as well as Paymerang or whatever automation tool that you are using is super important. Needs to be a phone call, it needs to be a conversation and make sure everyone knows what's going on. Especially in the world of fraud today. Vendors have their fraud flags up just as much as we do, just as much as Scott and his team and really anybody at a community has because it really is scary out there when it comes to fraud.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, you bring up an interesting topic there, John , cybersecurity fraud. It's such a huge topic right now and nobody is safe from it and I think senior living is starting to really feel the impact, what some people might have thought was a protected industry in a sense from this, and we work with folks all the time and talk to folks all the time, I should say at conferences who have have been victims of this. So can you talk to me a little bit about what steps Paymerang is taking play their part in securing communities data?John Zaudtke:
Yeah, obviously everything that we do is MFA, multifactor authentication login . So it's username , password, it's a six digit code that goes on top of it. But even on top of that, the tools that we use internally, ACH debit block, Positive Pay payee, Positive Pay, which kind of the next level there, you'd be surprised how many communities and companies we talk to that don't use Positive Pay today. And that's always my number one recommendation, whether you use this or not, put Positive Pay. You know, in the world of ransomware we very much discourage folks from storing banking information in their ERP. Unfortunately, I've seen this year alone, three different major ERPs get hit with ransomware, it's out there, it's gonna happen. So don't have any of that information in there. And then as we've built in to our platform to help protect our clients in their money, different fraud flags. If we paid you one bank account numerous times and all of a sudden you change, that's gonna pop a fraud flag, we're gonna call that vendor, "Hey, did you really mean to change this? Is this really you?" Very strict verification process to make sure we're talking to the right people . I will give this tidbit, communities are always doing construction on campus . Construction is the number one targeted fraud rate. There are lists on the dark web of every construction project going on in America, how much when it's gonna be completed, who the subs are, and the fraudsters are leveraging that tremendously because those are big dollar items. So when it comes to construction and working with construction vendors, make sure that you are double, triple, quadruple, checking everything before you make those payments.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, thanks for that! That's a good segway into cybersecurity because it is a huge consideration right now and I think it's important in what you all are doing and but we all do too to help make sure our clients are safe. So thanks for that. We've talked on a lot of good topics today, but I'm going to kind of start to wrap this up, but before we do, I'm just curious to know, automation has come such a long way, particularly in senior living. I've been in the industry for a long time and the movement in the last five years itself has been absolutely extraordinary. So we've come such a long way. But I'm curious to know, John , from Paymerang's perspective and your perspective, where's this world of finance automation heading next? Is there anything exciting to be on the lookout, on the horizon, or to be preparing for?John Zaudtke:
Yeah, from a Paymerang perspective, today, we are very much heavy on the backend, getting the invoices routed, coded , approved , getting the payments out as we move forward, since we're more on the community side. I think a lot of organizations start looking at the vendor side as well and being that central hub where vendors and buyers can be talking together. You know, how can we get the funds from Fowler, for example, to McKesson quicker, faster, more secure in a way that it's easy for Fowler but it's also easy for McKesson . So receivables, automation , as technology used to grow is gonna be a huge aspect for us and a lot of organizations out there.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thanks for that! And Scott or John, before we wrap today, are there any other final thoughts or words you want to leave our listeners with?Scott Martinez:
No , yeah, I think we've covered quite a bit. Just appreciate the partnership that Paymerang's offering and the service and support that we get as well. I think just on the payment side, being able to reduce our time processing a payment batch by over 80% is quite a bit of time saved on a weekly basis. So, for any listeners out there that are on the fence and not sure if it's worth it, it is a hundred percent worth it to you, to your team and your organization to be able to partner with Paymerang or an organization like them .John Zaudtke:
Yeah, I just want to thank you Scott and Fowler for being such great clients. Obviously, Patrick and the Parasol team for having us here this afternoon. You know, automation has come a long way , it's going to continue to grow and it's going to continue to be a hot topic. You know, as Scott mentioned for all communities, we're here, we're happy to chat through and see if it makes sense for your community and Paymerang or you know, just give you some ideas, suggestions as we go along. So we appreciate the opportunity. Thank you!Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, and the thanks is all on this side of the table. I appreciate you both being here! I think this was an awesome discussion. There's so much more to the story obviously. So, hopefully folks can connect with both of you separately to learn more about your experience with finance automation and Paymerang and Juliette Fowler. So, thanks again for being here guys and taking the time to educate our listeners on this topic.John Zaudtke:
Fantastic, thank you. Yep. Thanks for having us!Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely, and listeners, thanks for tuning into another great episode of Raising Tech! If you have any feedback, a topic idea or want to be on the episode yourself. Please feel free to reach out on our website at www.ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has a great conversation with Scott Martinez, Chief Financial Officer for Juliette Fowler Communities, and John Zaudtke, Vice President of Sales for Paymerang, about how Juliette Fowler Communities has streamlined their processes and maximized efficiency by utilizing Paymerang's financial automation solutions.
Learn more about Juliette Fowler Communities while also discovering how Paymerang's financial automation solutions can help automate the role of CFO at Senior Living communities, allowing them to save financial resources and time.
Welcome to Raising Tech. I'm your host, Amber Bardon, and today we have a special guest, Brian McWade from Sentrics. Welcome to the show.Brian McWade:
Thanks for having me, Brian .Amber Bardon:
So excited to have you on the podcast. I know we've been trying to get you on for a couple weeks now , so I'm so glad that you're here and we're gonna talk a little bit more about Sentrics. So to start us off, can you tell everybody a little bit about Sentrics, about your role in the company and just give us that background and that history?Brian McWade:
Sure! So I'm the Chief Product Officer at Sentrics, responsible for overall product strategy, vision, deployment of our software and hardware solutions. Sentrics is in about 7,500 communities in North America. So we have a very large footprint when you look at companies that provide technology in the room of residents, we're definitely one of the larger groups all of our technology is interacted with in one way or another by a resident. Personally, I have spent my whole career in senior living initially helping found Connected Living, which is a resident engagement product and helped see that through two acquisitions which brought me to Sentrics after Sentrics acquired Connected Living. So it's been a full circle experience for me personally.Amber Bardon:
Can you share a little bit about what the whole product suite is at Sentrics? Because I know you mentioned Connected Living and then there is Sentrics so what else is involved in that company?Brian McWade:
Yeah, so you know, when you hear 7,500 communities you might say, wow , I haven't really heard of Sentrics before. But that's a lot of sites and the strategy we've taken is actually to acquire our growth. So we've looked at different industries within senior living, life safety, entertainment and engagement, and have strategically acquired companies that have been around, have strong footprints, strong retention, strong clients. So we've acquired seven companies since 2016 that have fallen into, you know, one of those three categories. And when you think of life safety, those are things like eCall systems and motion sensors and you know, wearable pendants that provide service for residents . On the TV and entertainment side, it's more of your traditional phone, internet, tv, we're the largest direct TV reseller in senior living. And then on engagement, your traditional resident engagement products. So we're very focused on those three areas. There's a lot within each of those products that makes them unique, but that's the broader product line. And as we move forward, we're bringing those three divisions together into one product.Amber Bardon:
I think it's a really exciting time to see what's gonna happen with technology, especially on the resident side. I think we're gonna start seeing a shift where residents and or family members moving in the next few years are going to start asking questions about what technology do you have to keep me safe? What technology do you have to let the community know if I fall, what do you have to monitor my activities and my vital signs and all of that. One of the biggest challenges I see with this shift to this type of technology is infrastructure and Wi-Fi. And I'm curious, what have you encountered, what are your thoughts on solutions around that? Because it can be a very expensive problem to solve.Brian McWade:
Yeah, it's definitely important to, as more and more residents move in when I started in this space, less than 20% of seniors had access to internet. And today I think it's over 50% move in with a smart device they use multiple times a day . So it's there when we look at it from our perspective, we're deploying a lot of different technologies in the community and we want to find ways to deploy those that don't necessarily require wireless. All of our eCall products, a lot of our other products, they run off of other bandwidth, ZigBee and Z-Wave solutions. So we don't have to necessarily always bring in solutions that take away from the precious bandwidth the community has. We're definitely in a position since, in addition to providing technology products, we're also the provider of internet. So we need to be able to provide quality service, but we're in this position of controlling our own destiny in terms of what products will work best with the internet and really monitoring usage and peak usage and how we adopted that that.Amber Bardon:
Coming from your unique perspective as a founder of a company that was then later acquired by Sentrics and having been in this industry, what do you see are the biggest challenges facing the industry and what does Sentrics do to help solve those challenges?Brian McWade:
Yeah, I think, you know today there's a couple things in my mind. We talk a lot about boomers. The average age of a senior living resident right now is I believe 82. The average boomer is 78. So we haven't even really hit the peak yet of that growth coming into the industry. You know, when the pandemic started, census went down 10% across the industry and it's really only come back about 5%. And then the third piece is, you know, unfortunately just given our industry, a community typically turns over in about two and a half years. So you would think at this point that your census, that's pretty much out of the pandemic, would've rebounded to where it was before, given how communities kind of turn over every couple years and it hasn't. So there's a lot of focus on cost reduction and efficiencies and how do we really identify where we're spending our time and where we're spending our money as an operator. So that's a lot that we're trying to do with the data we're collecting is how can we make the building run more smoothly. We're also finding from an engagement perspective that there are so many different factors that go into how people use technology, that you can't just be a one-stop shop, you know, you need to have different ways for people to engage from signage to TV experiences, to mobile apps. You need to have the full spectrum because everyone's coming in with a different experience.Amber Bardon:
Let's imagine a scenario where we're putting a new construction and we are outfitting the community top to bottom with Sentrics' products. What would that look like? What would that look like to the resident? What would that look like to the staff and the family ?Brian McWade:
Sure. Well a foundational piece is definitely the life safety side we've done for decades. Your more traditional eCall, your wired eCall systems. Where we're going today and where we're investing, all of our R and D is in our RTLS platform, which is real-time location sharing. So picture your traditional eCall platforms, but wireless. Everything's wireless. And then we put beacons and locators throughout the whole campus anywhere where you want to know and pinpoint a location rooms, different pieces of rooms, dining areas, hallways, courtyards, and we map it from a location standpoint. So on one side that gives you some more locational based insight into your emergency call system, but it starts to give you other operational efficiencies around where are my residents spending their time, where is my staff spending their time? What are my response times to to various things? So there's a locational component that you want to build, build into your new communities because you have that Capex to do it. On the TV and engagement side, you know, we want to look at entertainment services that folks are using at home. So how do we bring in streaming services integrated set top boxes with DVR service, which we built our own set top box that is DVR driven . So how do we take some of these consumer products that people have when they're bringing in and embed them in there. So those are some of the key pieces. And then you have obviously engagement in BYOD settings. So you want to make sure that you're set up for however that person wants to connect with the community.Amber Bardon:
I was just on-site with a client this week who was actively looking for the first solution you described to have that geolocation. We see a lot of clients wanting to move away from the more traditional pendants and wander guards. Does that solution also work outside? So could it cover an entire campus, including all the outdoor areas?Brian McWade:
Yeah , so there's two sides to it. The locators can go in or outside and it's all location based in alert base. So you could say, you know, between 8:00 PM and 12:00 PM these three or four residents or this aggregate group cannot exit this particular area. So we're giving a lot of flexibility to the staff to look at those alerts. And then that same type of thing could be outside, you know, no courtyard access, but we're also deploying and continuing to develop our own, you know, cellular-base pendants that can go off campus and be more of your traditional PERS device. But instead of just being a standalone pendant to a call center, it integrates into the broader emergency call system. So now a resident can have peace of mind, not just when they're on campus, but when they go out to the grocery store because they're an independent living . So we're trying to cover all those pieces depending on the demographic.Amber Bardon:
Yeah, I think there's gonna be a huge need for solutions like this as residents want to be more independent and more mobile and have less of that institutionalized feel to, you know, ensure their safety. One of the questions I frequently get when I talk about these types of solutions with our clients is, you know, there's definitely a case for the monitoring and the tracking and all the life safety pieces and all the sensors, but there is concern on the community side is who's gonna track all this data? Who's gonna make sure it's being responded to, it's being looked at and then how do you use this data? So what is your approach to that side of it?Brian McWade:
Absolutely. Well I think there's two sides to it where we look at our business line, when you look at Sentrics, there's dozens of products today, they're independent product line, you're buying emergency call, you're buying tv, you're buying, engage where we're going and we'll continue to do that and advance those products. Where we're going is those are vehicles of collecting important information and the fact that we own these different companies, we're in a very unique position to take a resident and to feed all the data from those product lines into a view and to do through our BI tools , business intelligent tools we have. And we're building to do a lot of that data work for the staff so that they don't have to say, hey, well rows and columns and all these different things and what does it mean? So you know , we're building our enriched platform, which is built to, from a resident perspective, give that 360-degree view, but also that operator perspective provide insights based off the data that we're collecting. So we're trying to take that off the plate. The plate from a day-to-day perspective, the products are built for life safety. You're gonna set up who's getting what alerts, you're gonna set up escalators, you're gonna choose who gets what and who doesn't. So we're trying to also not have alert fatigue across all the product lines, but also make sure that the people that need it can get it. There's a balance obviously that who's involved and who isn't.Amber Bardon:
Let's talk a little bit about the cost side of things. I'm sure the people listening to the podcast think that this all sounds really great and it's the future, but how do communities pay for this? Is there an ROI that you can point to or has the cost replaced by another cost? Can you talk a little bit about that? Yeah,Brian McWade:
Each product's a little bit different. You know, on the emergency call life safety side, there's typically an existing product you might have in place and there can be retrofits where you retrofit pieces or whatnot. And then in new construction it's more of a Capex expense. But in emergency in the insure side it's much more of an upfront investment and then there's recurring fees for service fees depending on pendant replacements and things like that. So the pricing is very similar to what communities would be doing today with, you know, your emergency call side of things. On the entertainment side, it's primarily how you're paying for your TV service because we're providing TV in bulk and we're doing it as a large dealer, we're able to look at pretty significant pricing differences from various carriers and the fact that we can do both. So we're seeing $15 to $20 per room savings on your regular cable and TV programming with the fact that we can put a set top box in too . So as a niche provider in senior living, we can be a little bit more flexible than some of the big box carriers.Amber Bardon:
Do you envision scenarios where some of these monitoring services and additional technology would just be billable à la carte or what would be the model for that?Brian McWade:
Absolutely. So we are looking on the cellular pendant side. It doesn't have to go through a community, it can be more of a case by case , especially in independent living. The more communities get into streaming, streaming is much more of a case-by-case basis. So we see that as à-la-carte offering where a community can offer traditional TV service or a non-volt streaming platform, you know, so I think there'll be options on that side and a lot of flexibility. The same thing for internet. You know, we offer resident internet and that can be done on a per-resident basis since we're the ISP for that community. So there's a lot of flexibility in terms of how it's offered, how it's packaged, how the community markets it, if they're giving it for free or charging for it. So, you know , in most of these cases, especially the phone, internet and TV business, we're giving the operator a platform for them to really decide how they want charge and pay for it.Amber Bardon:
Brian , if a community is interested in exploring some of the solutions that Sentrics has, what would you say? What's your top advice? What should they do to prepare? What should they know? What would be lessons learned? Things to get started,Brian McWade:
There's three areas that we're trying to solve. There's the operational efficiency, the resident experience, and you know, one that doesn't get talked about a lot, but's on the minds of every owner and operator is just the investor accountability, the financial accountability. So I'd like to ask our customers, our clients, our prospects, give me some examples in those three that are your biggest concerns. You know, our products touch most of the operation of a community and in one way or another we can help tie in ROI to specific things. When you look at our product line, where we're going is we want to be able to walk into a community and say, forget about tv, internet, or phone. Here's all of the products. You pick which ones you want, you want engagement and you want motion sensors and you want to do that because you want to provide an auto check-in for residents at events. Well , we can combine these products and do that holistically. We're trying to break down the barriers of our product lines and just say, here's everything, which pieces do you want? And we'll make them work together.Amber Bardon:
What do you see is the future? So is there anything out there that we haven't heard of yet or that might be coming or that might be in other industries that you think is coming to senior living?Brian McWade:
I think it's more on, we hear a lot about data and I think it's easy to talk about data, but there's isn't a lot of movement in our industry right now to provide, you know, centralized machine learning and you know, predictive and prescriptive data insights to clients and communities. We hear a lot about it. And one of the challenges with that is most of that today is done through integration. You need to integrate with the company and when you integrate your data, you only control what that company will provide to you. And when I look at what Sentrics is doing and some other companies is the more where you can be the source of truth for the data, the more impactful it can be and the more that these companies can share that together, we'll start to have some really strong predictive insights that can help with those key things around, you know, length of stay, how we can, you know, improve the net income or the community if the Sentrics product or any product can extend the length of stay of a resident by five days, which seems little, you're making a big impact to the operator. So I think we're gonna see a lot of advancement in the business, intelligent tools that can be brought to market.Amber Bardon:
Brian , thank you so much for everything you've shared today. Is there anything that you wanna make sure our listeners know about Sentrics that we didn't talk about yet?Brian McWade:
I think just the only thing I kicked it off in the beginning saying you may not know much of Sentrics, but just so you can hear some of the companies that are tied to it on the life safety side, companies like CISCOR and Silversphere to long-term emergency call companies on the TV side, companies like SeniorTV is a part of Sentrics. And then on the engagement side, companies like Connected Living. So if you've heard of those companies or worked with them now or in the past, they're actually now part of Sentrics and you know, we continue to both sell those products as standalone, but really bringing them together to form Sentrics 360.Amber Bardon:
That's great! And if our listeners want to know more, where can they find you?Brian McWade:
Our website is Sentrics . net. LinkedIn conferences, we attend pretty much every regional show. We'll be at the large LeadingAge Conference in the fall, but you know, if you're attending any conferences, look us up. If not, please reach out through the website .Amber Bardon:
Thank you so much for joining me today, Brian . It's been a really great conversation. Thank you.Brian McWade:
Thank you!Amber Bardon:
Listeners, if you have feedback on this episode or have ideas for a future podcast, you can find us on our website, www.ParasolAlliance.com. Thank you for listening!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Amber Bardon, has a captivating conversation with Brian McWade, Chief Product Officer for Sentrics, about how Sentrics has combined entertainment, resident engagement and life safety into one technology platform for Senior Living communities.
Learn more about how Sentrics' technology solutions are helping Senior Living communities save money and enhance resident experience while enabling Senior Living operators to make more informed decisions based on data.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living. I'm your host, Patrick Leonard, and today we're gonna talk about a topic we've highlighted on the show before, but this time we're gonna hear about it directly from a senior living community operator and that topic is robotics and we're gonna talk about its specific use cases in a specific senior living community. So with that, I'm excited to introduce our listeners to our guest today, who's Marti Milligan from The Ridge Senior Living. Marti, welcome to the show.Marti Milligan:
Thanks Patrick. It's great to be here!Patrick Leonard:
It's great to have you. So Marti, before we dive into the topic today, do you mind giving our listeners just a little bit of background about yourself and your role at The Ridge as well as a little bit of background about The Ridge Senior Living itself?Marti Milligan:
Sure. So I've been with The Ridge Senior living for a little over five years now. We have independent living, assisted living and memory care in Utah, the Salt Lake City area and also in the Denver metro area in Colorado.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thank you for that, and so what originally sparked us having this conversation today was o ur t eam was at a conference and we learned about your c ommunity's utilization of robotic companion pets at The Ridge Senior Living, which is super exciting and interesting, and so can you tell us a little bit more about what you're using at The Ridge and how?Marti Milligan:
Sure, so at The Ridge, each of our memory care neighborhoods are equipped with a sensory room and that sensory room has comfortable chairs, blankets, aromatherapy, music therapy. And we also have some more tactile therapies like our robotic pets right here. The robotic pets, we use them primarily with memory care residents, who are in that sensory phase of dementia. So, they really are able to bond with these pets. They bring them a lot of comfort. It helps to reduce agitation, and they're actually quite lifelike.Patrick Leonard:
Wow. Listeners that can't see this, when we release the recording, at least we'll have to share some video clips on social media, but we can see in your background them interacting and moving as you talk and just petted the head. It's amazing. So back up a little bit and tell me how did you all decide to start utilizing these companion pets? You know, for my knowledge at least, I'm just learning about this technology as of late and hearing of communities utilizing it in the senior living space. But I'm always so curious how certain communities decide to make the leap to something like this and try something new and exciting like this. So can you tell us a little bit about that journey and how you decided to start utilizing these pets at your community?Marti Milligan:
So these pets first came on my radar through Argentum. We had attended an Argentum conference a few years back and our main building in Colorado was still under construction. And so we were looking how can we incorporate technology? How can we be innovative in our approach to memory care and dementia? At the same time, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia. She was about mid-stages and we placed her in a memory care neighborhood in Florida near her home. At that time we purchased one just like this guy here, it's like a little golden retriever, golden retriever puppy and gave it to her. She was about in mid-stages of the disease process and we were amazed at how she bonded with this little animal and we would go to visit her, she would feed it, she named it, she brought it with her everywhere and it just really brought her great comfort. And when I saw that happening with somebody who meant a lot to me, I was able to kind of think, wow, I think this would help a lot of people. And so we incorporated that into our sensory rooms as we opened The Ridge Pinehurst, and then we subsequently have done sensory rooms and included these animals at our Salt Lake City locations.Patrick Leonard:
Wow! Such a cool personal story I wasn't aware of that kind of sparked this that makes it even more impactful, and so I noticed as you're talking the two pets, the the cat and the dog behind you, are barking and making noises moving their head around. So, tell me a little bit about how that works . How are they sensing and why are they reacting certain ways? Did you program them a certain way? Did they come a certain way ? How does that work?Marti Milligan:
So, they are programmed to sound and to touch. So if I come over here and I pet the top of the cat's head, you can see she's putting her paw up, just licking her paw. She's probably gonna roll over here soon and so I can pet these guys, they'll respond to it, they'll bark or fur and it's kind of fun. It's impossible not to pick them up and play with them <laugh>.Patrick Leonard:
That's awesome and it sounds like your mother-in-law had such a great experience. How have the residents responded at The Ridge so far to interacting with them ? Are they more prevalent in , you know, with certain residents than others or how are they interacting day-to-day in the community?Marti Milligan:
So, a lot of times it depends on the particular resident. So in particular if a resident prior to moving in had had a cat or a dog, this can spark a lot of memories for them. We provided you with a video of one of our residents who is extremely close with the cat. So sometimes she doesn't like to give it up and share a cat with other residents. But you know, ultimately she will if you ask her if you can pet her cat. So <laugh> , these guys are just, they bring a lot of comfort. Family members are very interested in this. It can help to spark that communication with family members or friends and their loved one because it gives that memory care resident the opportunity to touch something, feel something while the family member is interacting as well. The same with caregivers. A caregiver, oh for example, needs to brush somebody's hair and maybe that resident doesn't like her hairbrush. We could set the cat in that resident's lap and it gives her something to do while her hair is being brushed. That's just one example.Patrick Leonard:
And so how many pets do you actually have in a given community and are there other options besides the dog and cat that I'm seeing here today?Marti Milligan:
So we only have the dog and the cat at our communities. I understand there's a seal out there that some memory care neighborhoods are utilizing, and then the other thing is, is you can purchase these for a loved one at your home. They're available on Amazon.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, okay. But are those ones that you're actually providing the community you're providing residents for? That's awesome. Cool .Marti Milligan:
Yeah , so we provide these for the community. As I said, we typically house them in our sensory room so that it's another piece of that daily life where somebody can go into that sensory room , if they're feeling a little overwhelmed or feeling agitated, we can put some soft music on and have them interact with the cat or the dog. I will say though, you know, the sensory room of course is open. Residents have access to it anytime they want and it's not unusual for the cat or the dog to disappear for a little while and then we have to go on a hunt for the animal.Patrick Leonard:
<laugh>. That is interesting. I didn't even think about that. Do they have tracking devices on them ?Marti Milligan:
<laugh> Not a bad idea. Maybe we should chip them <laugh>.Patrick Leonard:
Now all of our memory care neighborhoods are also pet friendly. So we do have some pets that are within those neighborhoods depending on where somebody is in the dementia process and how they're able to care for their pet or bring in a service to healthcare for their pet. But for those who don't have a pet anymore or have not brought their live pet with them, these are really great options .Patrick Leonard:
And do they require just simple batteries to operate them?Marti Milligan:
Simple batteries. They have a pouch back here to turn them on and off so that memory support residents can interact but they're not necessarily going to find that button to turn on and off the animal.Patrick Leonard:
Makes sense. Very cool. So normally you think of implementing new technology, some type of implementation training process, ongoing support that you would need to provide from the staffing perspective. I mean these appear from what you're saying to be pretty self-sufficient and pretty self-explanatory. But is there anything that you know was involved with getting all that set up and any training or ongoing support that you need or simply change the batteries when they run out?Marti Milligan:
Yeah, I mean the training really is here's how you turn it on and here is you know how you change the batteries. But we do person-centered care as many senior living communities do. We also do the Teppa Snow approach. So we utilize a lot of those trainings within using these animals in more comfort. But I wouldn't call it therapy, I would call it more comfort for residents.Patrick Leonard:
Got it. Okay . So from my understanding, you're also using robotics in other ways at your community. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how else you're using it throughout The Ridge?Marti Milligan:
Sure. So this year we introduced robots in our dining room and restaurants at our Colorado location. So we have two robots in independent living and we have two robots in our assisted living dining room.Patrick Leonard:
Very cool. So how has that been, I imagine obviously has probably a little bit more of an impact, a little bit more configuration, some things you have to work out, some training opposed to the pets who again just are kind of there as a companion. So tell me how that's gone in the dining room from a dining perspective, what has the impact been on the staff and the residents?Marti Milligan:
So as with many other senior living providers, we were hitting a lot of staffing shortages last year and we were looking at creative ways in how can we address these staffing shortages, provide that utmost service that our residents deserve, but be able to deliver it in a timely manner. And again, we were at one of the conferences and we saw these robots that were being utilized in dining, in senior living restaurants. So we looked into that, as far as would that be first of all cost savings? Second of all, do they work? We went to another senior living community that was utilizing them so that we kind of see how that process went. We had to do some minor modifications as far as doors going into the kitchen and thresholds, but extremely minor modifications for that. And then we were able to introduce the robots and ultimately we've been able to cut two FTEs after the introduction of those robots.Patrick Leonard:
Wow! So cost savings and then the residents, it doesn't seem to bother them or freak them out in any way. <laugh> ?Marti Milligan:
No, the residents have embraced them. When we brought all four, so, The Ricge Pinehurst is a large community. It's rental, independent living, assisted living and memory care and we have this very large lobby area. So, we brought all four robots in and did a demo for the residents . And then we had a naming contest so the residents were able to name them, they kind of got a little close with them. So we settled on the names Ridgely for The Ridge Senior Living, Wally , Luna, and Rosie. Because if you're going to have a robot, you have to have a Rosie , right?Patrick Leonard:
<laugh>, Rosie the robot. I love it! <Laugh> . That's such a cool way to incorporate the residents and get their buy-in and make them feel part of the process as well. I love it. So what would you say, I mean there's people out there who are in different levels of adopting technology like this in particular robotic, particularly in senior living communities. So what would you say to those out there? I mean, obviously with senior living being such a people-centric business as you mentioned, what would you say to those that fear that robotics, maybe particularly more so in the dining sense that you just mentioned, but just in general the fear of maybe losing a little bit of that human touch that is so important in senior living and the fear that that might be removed in some form or fashion by the utilization of robotics. Can you talk a little bit about that for some of those people who may be fearing that for someone who's been through it in a couple ways on the other side of it?Marti Milligan:
Actually, very interesting that you say, aren't these robots going to take the people portion out of it? Because actually the opposite happened . These robots are allowing us to have more face time with residents and to spend more time individually with each of those residents during that dining experience. So the robots have cut down on the steps going to, for example, busting a table, taking the dirty dishes to the dishwasher or the food is ready and it needs to be brought out to the table. In independent living, we have two robots. In assisted living, we have two robots. One is strictly for dirty dishes, the other is strictly for food delivery. And what we found is we can deliver the food faster, we can deliver it hotter and we can have better service when we're doing that. So our wait staff has handhelds to take the order so they're not leaving the dining room to take the order and then the robot is bringing the order to the table. So they essentially don't have to leave the area at all. They can continue to service residents the entire time that they're on their shift.Patrick Leonard:
Wow. And that's a great perspective on it. And so when the food is coming out, the later will be there to actually take the plate and still serve the residents. They're just doing the work of getting it out there and similarly, when busting the table, are they taking the plates and simply putting it on the robot, Rosie the robot, we'll call it <laugh> and Rosie's taking that back to the dishwasher, is that what you're saying?Marti Milligan:
Yes! So you still have that human touch, that human interaction during the service. Our dining rooms , the way that the main restaurant is set up, we also have a bar that's adjacent that serves food and drink and it's a little bit of a walk. So think about many times in one evening a server having to walk from where they're picking up the food at the kitchen through one restaurant through the bar to deliver. That's a number of minutes that that simply is taking. Now that server can stay, they're interacting, they're taking the next order, maybe they're busting another table if that's what's needed. And if it's a larger table, these robots can hold up to six plates. So if it's a larger table, we don't have to have two servers bringing food out, we can now have, you know, Rosie the Robot bringing the service to the table. And then you know, Ridgley might be cleaning up so somebody is there loading the dishes on but they're not taking all those steps in between.Patrick Leonard:
Got it. That makes a lot of sense. It really helps to walk through because if you haven't done it in a community that has them before, you can watch videos as much as you want online, but you walk through kind of from the order taking all the way to the bus to the table really well. And I think that paints a really good picture. I mean it makes the waiters' lives easier and takes probably the least fun part out of that job away <laugh> and makes it more efficient.Marti Milligan:
The robots are interactive as well. So the only thing we did have to work with residents on is we had to ask them to please not move the tables, like push tables together because the robots are programmed to go to each individual table and if you move a table somewhere, it's not gonna know where it is . But if a resident is walking in front of the robot, the robot will stop and it will say, "excuse me," and then the resident can move out of the way and the robot will not continue to go until that resident is at a safe distance.Patrick Leonard:
Wow. Amazing.Marti Milligan:
It sings "Happy Birthday"Patrick Leonard:
<laugh> . There you go.Marti Milligan:
So, residents are bringing their families in now on their birthdays so that the robot can sing their grandkids "Happy Birthday." How amazing is that?Patrick Leonard:
Wow. Amazing. Amazing! You would just never imagine . I love it! You all clearly gotten so creative with the use of it. I'm sure you're a model for these companies who are providing these robots is probably the best use case out there. So thanks for sharing all that. Is there any key learnings that you wish you knew prior to implementing any robotics, any fashion of the communities or what would you say to other senior living communities out there who haven't made lead that they should be considering that The Ridge has kind of learned from the process ?Marti Milligan:
Well as far as the robotic animals go, I think the robotic animals, it's just a very minimal investment absolutely worth it to have in your memory care neighborhoods. Now the robots in dining, that is a little bit more of an investment depending on what company you choose to provide that they come, they do the training, they help you with programming it. The biggest thing is really having them come look at your kitchen to see what the thresholds are, how the robots can get in and out. Because as I said with us, we had to do some minor renovations and some adjustments to be able to facilitate the robots. They can't open doors, they're not that advanced yet.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, someday , someday soon I'm sure. Awesome. Well, Marti, are there any other final thoughts or words of wisdom you want to provide our listeners before we part ways today?Marti Milligan:
I just think that we have to embrace technology in senior living. We saw over the past year that the staffing shortages, I don't really see an end to that. Also, we will have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 65 here in the next couple of years. So we have to be creative in how we're providing services to our seniors and technology robotics is just one element in that delivery of care and services as we have this aging population.Patrick Leonard:
I love it. Couldn't have said it better myself! Well, Marti, thanks again so much for taking the time to be here today on the show and really to educate our listeners and myself on this topic of robotics. I think you demystified and really brought it down to a practical sense and use case in a senior living community from your perspective and how it's really benefiting and not only benefiting but it sounds like enriching the lives quite significantly of both residents and staff members and family members coming in and and getting "Happy Birthday" sung to them. So, thanks again for your time today. I really appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. It's been a pleasure. Thank you, Patrick! Awesome. And listeners, thanks for tuning into another episode of Raising Tech! If you have any feedback or a topic idea or would like to be on the show yourself, please feel free to reach out to us on our website , www.ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!
In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has a fascinating conversation with Marti Milligan, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for The Ridge Senior Living, about how The Ridge are utilizing robotic pets and dining robots to enhance the resident experience in their Senior Living communities.
Discover how The Ridge Senior Living are engaging robotics to celebrate residents' and their families' birthdays, to improve staffing challenges and to provide an extra layer of comfort to residents through the use of robotic companion pets.
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