The closure of airspace by the Federal Aviation Administration a few weeks ago and the recent nationwide scheduling crisis at Southwest Airlines mean that even the most tightly coordinated industry could face a fundamental crisis if operations go awry. It reminds me of something.
For Southwest Airlines, more than 15,000 flights were delayed in a week due to record-breaking storms across the country.
New York Times columnist Zeynep Tufecki blamed the Southwest meltdown on outdated software systems failing to meet the needs of the industry. After years of ignoring its flawed system, Southwest Airlines was forced to ground flights to recover from the storm, stranded thousands of passengers, infuriated employees and shattered its reputation. I was.
A storm caused some delays. Bad software put them in danger.
Elderly life should be careful. Day-to-day senior living operations often rely on passable, outdated software systems today, but robust enough to weather a (figurative) storm and allow operators to grow their companies. not.
In many cases, legacy systems that weren’t even designed for seniors hinder staff members from doing unnecessary manual work, taking time away from residents on top of already overloaded schedules. These same systems prevent leaders from gaining visibility into actual community operations and from accessing data critical to core processes.
For years, Southwest employees and unions have complained about the company’s system, which forced them to deal with disastrous workflows whenever business was interrupted by inclement weather or delays. Staff members in senior living communities grapple with the same issues, leading to employee retention and morale challenges. Instead of being empowered and performing their roles effectively, staff members are held back by the community’s reliance on paperwork and slow, outdated systems. A common scenario found in many communities: Relying on paper occupancy. This requires significant administrative overhead and takes 80% longer than a digitized process.
A clinical lead at a large operator recently described the process of analyzing incidents and falls across her portfolio. It was a jumble of database her queries, multiple Excel files, and hours of amazing manual work.
In another case, we worked with operators to try to understand the profitability of care by reconciling care costs to care costs by building. Kudos to her for completing the exercise with her sheer will and her brute force. Most operators don’t even try to get this level of insight. Putting together the necessary systems to do so is very difficult.
Southwest is now facing major regulatory scrutiny after its December meltdown. Senior living operators face increasing regulatory scrutiny and the scenario becomes increasingly burdensome when they cannot rely on their systems for accurate data and reporting.
While there are many negative consequences for operators relying on older systems, there are many positive consequences when operators can use the technology that supports them and their workflows. When operators have access to best-in-class systems, they can run better businesses, retain valuable staff, and most importantly, provide better care to their residents.
In conversations with operators, it’s clear that many are running in “Southwest mode” and risk falling behind. The Southwest catastrophe is a wake-up call for the senior housing industry, but it is also an opportunity for the industry to make proactive improvements to prevent a crisis in care, revenue and staff satisfaction.
Erez Cohen is co-founder and co-CEO of August Health. August Health is a technology-enabled operating platform and electronic care record for the elderly community. Prior to founding August Health, he was an executive at Apple, leading a group of engineering teams. Cohen was also a co-founder of Mapsense, a geospatial mapping startup that was acquired by Apple. He holds a degree in industrial engineering and operational research from the University of California, Berkeley.
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