Robust Infrastructure Essential for Tech Success

CAST | August 11, 2022

Majd Alwan offers advice on getting up to speed.

 While technology is now essential in senior living organizations, their infrastructure is not always sufficient to support current needs. Approximately 30 percent of senior care organizations have not upgraded their network infrastructure in more than five years, according to a recent Twitter poll by HealthTech.
 
In “Tips for Senior Care Organizations on Upgrading Their Network,” HealthTech shared extensive advice on strategies and technical solutions to get organizations up to speed. Majd Alwan, CAST executive director and senior vice president of technology and business strategy at LeadingAge, was among the experts quoted in the article.

Robust Connectivity and Network Infrastructure

Senior living organizations can gain a market advantage by offering robust internet connections, Alwan said, noting the increasing numbers of older adults using smart technology and streaming services. Connectivity also enables older adults to engage with loved ones, which is essential to avoid social isolation.
 
A robust networking infrastructure also supports clinician workflows, medical devices, and wearables that run on Wi-Fi, said the article. “Virtual care solutions such as telesitting and telehealth support clinicians amid nationwide healthcare staff shortages which, in turn, improves the patient experience.”
 
Even if an organization has upgraded service from its internet provider to support the recent growth in telehealth and other technologies, its network infrastructure may limit bandwidth, said Alwan.
 
“Even if they were to upgrade, if they only have a copper network for a large campus, they probably need to install a fiber-optic backbone to the individual buildings, if not to the individual units,” Alwan told HealthTech. “If you observe the users of the internet, their demand on bandwidth increases by 50 percent year over year, which means that this is an exponential growth in demand for bandwidth. Many of our members were not prepared for this trend, let alone the sudden increase in demand on bandwidth during the pandemic.”
 
A fiber backbone would provide needed bandwidth from now through the next five to 10 years, as bandwidth demand grows, Alwan said. Separate networks for residents, operations, and possibly visitors and partners would provide cybersecurity protection, he said.

Funding

Federal grant funding for broadband infrastructure is available. As the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will administer it through state grants, Alwan told HealthTech that senior care organizations, especially larger organizations with locations in multiple counties, should partner with their state to receive funding.
 
“Internet used to be a luxury,” Alwan said. “However, in this day and age, especially after the pandemic, I believe it has become a right, and I would encourage everyone to jump on board and make it available to their residents.”

Digital Transformation Sessions at LeadingAge Annual Meeting + EXPO on Oct. 18

Registration is now open for the LeadingAge Annual Meeting + EXPO, with 11 sessions bringing you the latest developments in aging-services technologies. The meeting will be held Oct. 16-19, 2022, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO.

Make sure to check out Digital Transformation in Aging Services (Session 1-A) on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 1-2 p.m. and Meeting Future Expectations and Best Practices for Digital Transformation (Session 13-K) on Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. - noon. Register today!

LeadingAge CAST Resources

Internal adoption of new tech solutions, from the leadership level to IT staff, is also critical for success.

The LeadingAge CAST Resident/Client Technology Guide can help organizations create resident training programs and concierge services. The guide includes a white paper, interactive guide, and case studies.
 
LeadingAge CAST Cybersecurity Resources
help organizations understand cybersecurity threats, identify where they may be at risk, and mitigate risks. The resources also outline how an organization should respond if attacked. A white paper, benchmarking questionnaire, and case studies are included. The resources also include Opportunities, and Risks, with New Smart Voice Technology in Senior Living