Many providers struggle with retention within their organizations, but most haven’t given thought to how technology can impact employee and resident retention.

Believe it or not, technology adoption equals retention, and even more so in the long term care profession. Here are three ways that technology can positively impact retention.

Employee Turnover

Health care turnover for direct care workers is pervasive. Many new hires are millennials, and they have grown up using technology. Is the company losing employees to the local movie theatre, hot new restaurant, or a competitor?

Chances are they left because they did not feel engaged. This doesn’t mean that they did not enjoy the work; however, if the company is not using technology, more than likely they were just bored.

To put this into context, they left the organization for another one that they felt was a better fit for them.

Think about it: How often do people check their smart phones or smart watches? For many people, there is something about a bright screen that just keeps calling. It’s not that the screen is more important than their work, it’s that they are using the screen to complete their work.

Today’s workforce is conditioned to be constantly engaged with that bright screen. Need proof? Give a couple of five-year-olds tablets, load up the app that plays their favorite shows or games, and then try to get them to eat. Good luck!

So why not use this propensity for technology to the benefit of the organization and, ultimately, its residents? Technology is a game changer for hiring and retaining talent. In many facilities, staff turnover continues to be a challenge, which in turn impacts quality and outcomes. Providers that drive employee satisfaction see a positive correlation with resident satisfaction.

Employee turnover can be managed. By adopting technology solutions that make the organization more efficient, it can keep staff engaged in meaningful ways that help them feel like they are making a difference.

Resident Care, Satisfaction

The long term care profession has been changing from fee for service to fee for value for some time. Competition can be found on every other corner, as well as at home, meaning that the story the company has been selling is being told similarly by the competition. What does that mean? It means that words sound good, but families want to see action, they want to see measurable data.

If the company makes the claim, “We provide excellent care,” it must be able to provide evidence to show quality outcomes, such as a lower rehospitalization rate. If it claims, “Our residents are happy and engaged,” it needs to be able to show positive reviews as evidence of resident and family satisfaction.

No longer can anyone assume that words alone will lead to winning and retaining business if they expect to continue to operate in this space.

Technology can help tell the center’s story. That story includes not only words, but, more importantly, data to support those words.

For most providers, the biggest reasons why residents leave the facility are dissatisfaction with resident care and quality of food. Think about this: Most people will drive past a conveniently located hotel or hospital to the one that has a reputation for providing the best service.

They will drive even farther when it comes to food choices. It follows that families will do the same when it comes to caring for their loved ones.

Perception is reality, and if a company is not controlling its reputation, someone else is. Without data, its story is merely a perception created by others.

Capability Checklist

There are several things to consider when adopting technology to improve and document care and satisfaction. Does the company have the tools to:
  • Track the care given by each staff member?
  • Track services delivered, both scheduled and ad hoc?
  • Track time spent with each resident to provide care and later do a time study?
  • Manage medication administration electronically?
  • Receive medication information directly from its pharmacy?
  • Use dashboards to track work flows and key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • Run ad hoc reports?
  • Communicate each resident’s likes and dislikes?
  • Track resident weight change?
  • Analyze food costs?
  • Use the data to make decisions that impact its bottom line?
Tangible data that help a business run more smoothly are evidence of the quality of care the health care center can provide to positively impact a resident’s quality of life. This makes that center more attractive than the one down the street.

Increased Length Of Stay

There is a popular saying that “time is money.” This statement can be quantified when considering the length of stay for long-stay residents at the center, times the reimbursement/payment for each day that they are there. In long term care, increased length of stays equates to dollars and cents.
When looking at a technology for increasing length of stay, ask does it:
  • Improve the quality of resident care?
  • Increase the efficiency of the nursing staff through a streamlined documentation process?
  • Guide clinical decision making through embedded, evidence-based practices?
  • Facilitate communication with health care providers through standardized data?
  • Improve clinical data integrity through the reduction of narrative
  • documentation?
  • Enhance quality assurance and process improvement (QAPI) programs?
  • Positively impact clinical outcomes through the use of research-tested assessments and associated interventions?
  • Track changes in condition through alerts allowing timely notification to physicians?
  • Focus on prevention by anticipating resident risk?
If lengthening resident stay is important, then technology should be a critical part of the care center’s workflow. If technology is in place, ensure that all of the tools needed to help realize the expected outcomes are in place, and use them.

Only a fraction of long term care providers actively and regularly utilize the technology they already have to its fullest potential. If the center’s current technology infrastructure cannot provide all of the items on the lists above, do some research and find out about the more innovative tools available in the long term care market today.
 Patrick Hart

Patrick Hart is vice president, senior living solutions, for MatrixCare.
He can be reached at