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SEASON 3, EPISODE 1

Transforming Quality of Life for Senior Living using an Integrated Management System

January 04, 2024
Amber Bardon, Geert Houben

In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Amber Bardon, has a captivating conversation with Geert Houben, Founder & CEO of Cubigo, where he illustrates how Cubigo's cloud-based platform is connecting Senior Living prospects, staff, residents and families through a suite of services to enhance their quality of life. Cubigo's integrated management system offers Senior Living Communities activities, maintenance, housekeeping, dining and transportation and more!

Discover how Cubigo is increasing operational efficiency and improving resident experience through their innovative cloud-based platform for senior living by listening to the entire episode!

You can find more about Cubigo on their website and LinkedIn.

Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.


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Amber Bardon:

Welcome to Raising Tech podcast. I'm your host, Amber Barden, and today my guest is the founder and CEO of Cubigo. I'm going to let him introduce himself. He is from Belgium and his name is a little bit difficult for me to say. Welcome to the show.

Geert Houden:

Hi Amber. My name is Geert Houden, founder & CEO of Cubigo.

Amber Bardon:

So nice to meet you. I've known about Cubigo for a really long time and I've talked to a lot of people at your organization, but this is the first time that we've met, so really appreciate you taking time to come on the show today.

Geert Houden:

Yeah , thanks for having me. It's great to meet it Virtual <inaudible> . So yeah, thanks for having me.

Amber Bardon:

Tell me about the history of Cubigo. How did you come to found the company? This is the first time that I knew that you were from Europe, so how did you come to the US and get into that market?

Geert Houden:

So I started the company in 2011, personal story with my grandmother, like a lot of founders in this space. We started out in Europe more from a home care angle and trying to keep people in their own environments for as long as possible with the help of technology. When we first visited the US in 2015, we saw a big opportunity in residential care and senior living in general. First when we came here in 2016 and we first lived for one year in a Brookdale community just to understand the market and the ins and outs of the needs of the people within senior living. All that information experience that we gathered, we used to build a new product, the current Cubigo version, which was launched in the US in 2018 and that is still being used and now in different countries as well. We brought it back to Europe.

Amber Bardon:

What is your market segmentation or do you have a lot of clients in the United States and in Europe? And I'm just curious, is the senior living industry very similar there or is it different?

Geert Houden:

It is different. First of all, Europe, the home care market is a bit more developed so people stay at home as long as possible and when they're not able to do that anymore, they go into more skilled nursing. So the retirement living segment is not as present as it is in North America. We do have 70% of our business coming from North America, so that's the US and Canada. The rest is coming from UK, Europe, and South Africa. So basically we still see both markets, very interesting development, but the North American market is the biggest for us this moment.

Amber Bardon:

When you say home care is more developed, does that mean that people are using Cubigo in their homes?

Geert Houden:

They do, but it's always initiated by the operator. So it's that beyond the wall principle where you leverage the services that an operator already has organized in a building or a campus and use that to bring to people outside in a 10 miles radius or something like that. Cubigo is built with that in mind and that is definitely also something we see going to happen in North America, but it's a bit more about already in Europe.

Amber Bardon:

I definitely have a lot of our clients looking into that type of technology. It hasn't really taken off so far, but I agree with you that I think that that's coming and I think there's going to be a big push for people to remain in their homes much longer just due to the costs of some of the communities.

Geert Houden:

The cost is definitely an important point. The other one is the expectation of the end user consumer and the baby boom generation looks a bit different at senior living and we know that some of these people just never want to live there and that could also be a solution for them to just stay at home.

Amber Bardon:

From your perspective, what do you see are the major challenges that are facing senior living in the next few years?

Geert Houden:

Well, I think one we already talked about that's the expectation level of the baby boomers. We also see more and more people walking in with technology and they expect from the operator that they can interact with their tools with the organization. On the other side, there is the labor challenge. So there is a lot of pressure from that perspective, and we believe that the expectation level plus the labor challenge can be supported, at least solved for a part with technology. The biggest challenge we see on that front is that a lot of our clients and prospects, they have a lot of point solutions because every department purchased their own application, their own digital tool, and now when everybody is working in a digital way, we end up with 10, 15 different point solutions. And so there is not enough integration, not from a user experience where you have to use all these different applications, but also from a data perspective for all the data is now in 10 different silos. We believe that in the digital transformation of senior living, going from point solutions to integration is a very, very important step.

Amber Bardon:

So I know that the resident engagement market has gotten a little bit crowded in the last few years. There have been some companies that have been out there for a while , CareMerge, which is now Icon, TouchTown. I know Cubigo has been around for a few years. How do you see yourself as a differentiator against the other products in the marketplace?

Geert Houden:

We cannot just be bold resident engagement because we have extended the platform with other modules that tap into for us overall nonclinical environment instead of just being in a silo of resident engagement. So one of the big developments we have done the last couple of years is the hospitality suite point of sale payment layer that is available for all departments to capture ancillary revenues, not only in the dining room but also billable activities, maintenance, housekeeping, transportation, and bring that all together for invoicing , with EHR , the financial , systems in the backend. And we have added the visitor management module, we have added different services like transportation, housekeeping, maintenance, so it's more than just resident engagement and we try to integrate everything on the nonclinical side and integrate with the clinical side of the EHR and go to more integration and integrated workflows than just being in another silo.

Amber Bardon:

I think a big part of that, and it's related back to what you were saying with the data analytics is integrations with other systems in the marketplace. And I agree with you, I think there's a huge lack in the industry right now of centralized data and KPIs and it's something that really needs to get addressed. I feel like the entire industry is really far behind other industries with being able to just have key data at your fingertips. So how are you addressing integration and data analytics through your platform?

Geert Houden:

So first of all, there is the integration with third party applications. We mainly focus there on the EHR billing and the property management solutions like PCC, Yardi, so forth. We do also integrate with the workshops , maintenance facility management platforms. Basically we integrate all that data with our set or own data through data lake. So we have a very solid data infrastructure in the platform that at least bring all that data together and to start not only provide that business dashboards and correlation between these data points, but that is also a starting point of smarter algorithms like AI that can see patterns in these data that we as human beings are not able to see anymore. Before you tap into that, I know AI is kind of a hype or a trend. Before you can do smart things with AI, you have to integrate and bring your data together otherwise impossible. And that is why we first want to go for integrated workflows and then put that layer of AI and all that .

Amber Bardon:

Can you talk a little bit more about those integrated workflows? What does that mean for a community and their day-to-day?

Geert Houden:

Since we have visitor management, resident engagement, point of sale, all running on the same platform, they share basically everything. Once you have integrated your EHR for a resident directory and all the residents are synced, this resident directory is available in all these different modules. When you have a visitor, a family member coming in through our visitor management kiosk and they sign in automatically, they are available in the point of sale when they go for a lunch in the community and we can keep the preferences of that family member as well. Once you are a family member using visitor management, you get an invite for the family app to keep in touch with the community. Once you sign up through resident engagement module for an activity and it's a craft beer tasting of $20, that charge automatically flows onto your invoice. So we integrate all these different elements that we can. You are a prospect coming in for a tour, it's integrated with our digital signage. So your prospect name can appear on the digital signage. Hey, welcome Ms. Jones . In our community, once you upload your menus in Cubigo, they're available on digital signage and the app on the POS you can print them. So you don't need to put all that data in all these different applications anymore.

Amber Bardon:

Many communities already have a lot of these modular solutions in place for point of sale or visitor management, for example. So what is your ideal client? What is the best use case for Cubigo? Do you intend to try to replace systems if they exist or do you think a client that is maybe is lacking systems are still on paper, which they exist? I've been to several of those communities in the last year.

Geert Houden:

The ideal client is one that is working on paper and is making a huge leap forward by going not burst through all these point solutions and then to an integrated platform, but just skip all that and go from paper to an integrated platform because then they have maximum value. It's true that most of the providers and operators today have point solutions in place and then it's either replacement or integration and both can work. We can also integrate with physical management solutions for example, but we do have our own module which is fully integrated. That gives you always more value than trying to integrate because integration is also a very interesting word. Everybody says they're integrating, everybody says they have APIs, but in reality when you look at what they actually can do, it's sometimes very disappointing or it costs a lot of money. And that's why we believe that integrated platforms have a higher chance of success and just try to integrate with everyone and everybody.

Amber Bardon:

Definitely that's true. I always advise our clients when they hear the word integration to really ensure they understand what does that mean? What exactly are the data points and how do those data points translate back and forth and how does that actually happen? Is it automated? Because I've had some vendors say they have an integration and it turns out it's an actual CSV file that has to be manually uploaded.

Geert Houden:

Yeah. Another example is a maintenance request, right? You do a maintenance request and then we integrate with the maintenance team and we do that by sending them an email. Well , that is not an integration for me . An integration is you as a resident created ticket in Cubigo, it flows automatically in TELS or Worxhub. It creates automatically a ticket in there. When a technician in Worxhub or TELS changes the state of the ticket or has another question or additional comments, automatically that flows back to the resident interface with a notification resident can answer that goes back again and so forth. That is a real integration, not just an email that is solution to a team member.

Amber Bardon:

So Cubigo is offering solutions to several of the different types of systems that are needed for a community. What is your long range plan? Are you planning to eventually have more solutions that can meet all the needs, such as EMR someday. Can you share a little bit about what you see as in the future?

Geert Houden:

No , that's a very good question because you can think about indeed broadening your product scope also in the clinical direction. That is a choice we made to not do so. We will not compete with the clinical and financial systems out there. We believe we are very complimentary and should integrate with them rather than replacing them. The strategy we will follow is twofold or we have two angles. The first is the technology innovation angle or product innovation, and that will all be around integration data and AI. We currently are working on a happy aging indicator , so it's not a word for a wellbeing score , which takes all the data points that we have. And that is a lot because we do integrate with a lot of departments. I've come up with a very objective core for that particular resident. Not only that, we will also give, or the AI will give three, four recommendations, what to do with that person to get the score up so they can focus your efforts and your resources instead of just doing everything for everyone. So we believe that there's the direction that we should go into from a product innovation perspective. The other angle is way more around business model and then we are back to the beginning of not only this conversation, but also the beginning of our company. We believe that there is a big group of people living outside the senior living community that also can be supported by services in that community. Not only services like coming in for a lunch or coming in for an activity, but also the social side and being part of a community, being part of a group of people while you still just live in your own box . And that beyond the walls a concept is so prevalent in the UK and Europe. Also the opportunity of being a global company, of course, that we can bring these best practices from one part of the world to the other one. And so the US, Canada is maybe not fully there yet, but I'm sure in the next five to 10 years that business model of beyond the wall memberships is coming up and if you have all the experience and the product build aren't around that, well, we can be a very interesting partner for companies that are looking for that type of new business models.

Amber Bardon:

So when you think about the biggest challenges and threats facing the industry right now, do you believe that those are related to your long-term strategy?

Geert Houden:

They are. Again, workforce challenge will not go away. There is the aging of the population and will have to do the work with less people. And the only way to do that is being more efficient and the only way to be more efficient is technology. So there is a very clear hat with digital transformation, AI, the use of data towards efficiency, that is clear. The other side of the changing expectations of the baby boomers that want way more personalization, totally different approach of our service offering a different product, more technology support and so forth. Well , that's the center of the platform. The resident is in the center. We have built everything from the perspective of the resident. The resident is not able to use the technology. There was always a team member or a family member that can do it for the resident, but we put the resident first. In the beginning 10 years ago, people said, you're crazy. Older people are not used to use technology and now we are 10 years later or further. You know better than I do that the adoption of technology with this target group of like 65, 70 plus people is exponentially growing. And so by putting that from the start in the center, we have a additive edge and we believe that the threat of the baby boomer will not in senior living anymore, can also be in a way solved by offering these services outside the community, beyond the walls supported by this technology.

Amber Bardon:

What do you think a community should know if they're thinking about implementing a solution like Cubigo? What should they consider in terms of preparation and what would be the biggest successes to an implementation?

Geert Houden:

At the same time, probably our biggest challenge today in selling Cubigo is that we are not selling to one department. We are selling to an organization. That means that you have to have your different nonclinical departments on the same page when you go from fragmented ecosystem of apps to an integrated platform because everybody has to has to tap into that platform with their department. So it's a challenge and an opportunity if you are successful in that as an organization. And that's typically driven by an operational leader, COO or VP of operations. If you're successful in that, you have a way more streamlined organization. But to get everybody on that same page, it takes time and it , and there is , uh, a bit of change management and leadership that is needed to to do that. I would say that that is the , the , the most successful clients are the ones that are having the leadership and change management capabilities to bring the, the departments on the same page and go , uh, for a more integrated platform than they had before.

Amber Bardon:

I think those are definitely indicators of success on the community enterprise , uh, staff culture. How about from the resident perspective?

Geert Houden:

And so that is a , by the way, a number that we see growing every month , uh, almost, but the current adoption of, of our technology in let's say an IL and independent living setting, which is still of course this sweet spot because you have , uh, a younger demographic that is a bit more used to technology is around 75%. So that's pretty high. That means that 75% of the residents are actively using this tool to help them in their daily lives. The success there is that first of all, you have to make , uh, your , uh, your platform, in this case cubicle. You have to make it part of the daily life of the resident. Also the training aspect, that means we don't do the training. We want the community to do that in a, let's say a weekly iPad class or a weekly cubicle cafe or something, which is baked in into the, the work that the community is doing anyway. The same with the onboarding. If you onboard a new resident, this platform should be part of that onboarding. This is how we do things here. If you do that successful in a year time, you reach these adoption levels of 75, 80% and that means a lot more efficiency. 'cause if 80% of your residents is doing their service requests through the platform all straight with the different departments, instead of going to the front desk calling people, walking up to people and talking to people, that's a lot more efficient. And then the people that have to deal with all these transactions can have more valuable time with residents instead of just sitting behind the PC and registering everything.

Amber Bardon:

When you say 75 to 80% adoption, is that independent living or is that community wide and CCRC independent?

Geert Houden:

That that's independent. Living in assisted living, we see that dropping to like 50%, something like that. Sometimes a bit less . It depends of course also on where the community's located, the , uh, average age and so forth. But on average, I would say 40, 50% in , uh, in ai .

Amber Bardon:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Where can our listeners find out more about cubi Go

Geert Houden:

Cubi go.com . We also have a very active LinkedIn page where you can find new customers, new people on the team, new product releases, all that kind of good stuff.

Amber Bardon:

Thank you so much for joining me today.

Geert Houden:

Thank you, Amber. Bye-Bye.

Amber Bardon:

And listeners, if you'd like to provide feedback on this episode or if you have ideas for an episode you'd like to see, you can find us online@raisingtechpodcast.com. Thank you for listening.

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