Thank you to our guest contributor Mike MacLeod, president of Status Solutions.
According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of American adults ages 65 and older use the Internet or email. That number diminishes with age, yet, it has been shown that as we age, isolation, physically and otherwise, contributes to illness and early death. That is why communication and access to information for seniors is so important. CATIE is an interactive multimedia application for two-way communication and self-service to help residents of senior living communities stay connected to family, friends and the world around them. It was named a Program to Watch by the Assisted Living Federation of America in 2012.
My own family is a good example. At 84, my mother didn’t have – or want – a computer so she couldn’t use email. When my 21-year-old daughter returned from a trip to Europe, Mom had to wait months for a face-to-face visit before she could see all the photos and share in Annie’s experience. So the technology was built to close the digital distance between the generations in my family. CATIE stands for “communication and access to information everywhere.”
Regardless of age, our need for relationships, recreation and personal growth is part of who we are. This is particularly true for our next wave of seniors, the Boomers who are feeling younger, living longer and wanting meaningful activities and experiences. If owner-operators want to meet the demands of this next back-to-the-dorm crowd and compete for their considerable buying power, you’ll need to invest not just in technologies that ensure life safety but also life quality.
CATIE is powered by an in-room kiosk that functions as an intercom, message center, electronic bulletin board and concierge. The solution enables senior living communities to design and deliver advanced amenities, such as the ability for residents to review menus and make dining reservations, schedule activities and view personalized calendars, notify housekeeping of cleaning or supply needs, place maintenance requests, and respond to surveys.
CATIE also sends announcements and reminders and features email with voice-reply. A user simply presses reply on the touch screen to record a message that goes back to the sender as an attachment. In addition to helping residents, communities with CATIE can streamline their business processes and reduce expenses. For example, digitizing menus and activity calendars not only saves trees but also eliminates those printing costs and enables staff to update information on demand.
CATIE is ushering in automated self-service for seniors. Whatever they want done, they can push a few buttons and make it happen. That’s the nature of self-service, and it’s one of four megatrends shaping society and subsequently technology and business. The others are convergence, mobility and awareness. Convergence refers to the confluence of voice, data, wireless and even body-area networks that provides for an unprecedented level of connectivity and therefore information access. Mobility enables that information to be at our fingertips 24x7 without tether. And awareness means having real-time knowledge of any situation that could threaten lives, property, business operations or convenience/comfort.
Although the senior living industry has been slow to adopt technology except when required by government regulations, future residents will require it for helping them maintain comfortable, active lifestyles and some level of independence. That means you’ve got to go all in on convergence/connectivity, mobility, awareness and self-service. And if you already have a telephony backbone and an IP network, then you have potential partners who can help you take your community to the next level in terms of quality care and service delivery.
When it comes to evaluating your technology options to ensure that you make a value decision and not just a product decision. There’s a big difference between a product vendor and a technology partner who will focus on applying technology to meet your desired outcomes. With the right expertise, especially in computer-telephony integration, you can add new technologies to meet your needs and improve the performance of your existing systems.
Mike MacLeod is president of Status Solutions, which he co-founded in 2001 after 14 years at Comdial in various leadership roles, including serving as president of the enterprise solutions division. Trained as a scientist, MacLeod holds bachelor’s degrees in biology and forestry from Marietta College in Southeast Ohio.