Many senior living operators struggle with low occupancy rates, mostly due to the development boom that led to a nationwide oversupply across care types. The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care says the U.S. senior housing occupancy fell to 87.8 percent in Q2 2019, slightly below its previous post-recession low of 88 percent.
The bottom line: competition is fierce. Existing owners and operators are faced with selling their senior living products against counterparts who may be offering newly constructed properties, discounted rates, and other move-in perks.
However, it’s not all bad news. A number of senior living operators are stemming their losses, and in some cases thriving, by finding ways to combat the occupancy squeeze – primarily through creative approaches that leverage their use of technology. Let’s look at how you can make this happen for your senior living business.
Rework Your Sales Approach
First, assess your sales and marketing strategies. It is critical to determine whether your marketing and selling efforts are geared toward the current marketplace. Maybe it’s time to adjust your sales expectations and your marketing plan to better respond to your local and regional competitive landscape.
Perhaps you need to better differentiate yourself based on your service or resident experience? Learn everything you can about your residents, their preferences, their needs and their acuity. This is where using an electronic health record (EHR) can generate great benefits. You may also improve support for your sales and marketing decisions with a digital workflow, including the integration of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to manage leads in light of occupancy goals.
Evaluate Your Existing Resident Base
Besides targeting new move-ins, look closely at the services you’re providing to current residents including the care level and unit type. You may be able to offer new services to your existing residents or move them to higher levels of care if indicated, helping to reduce some of your losses associated with low occupancy.
In doing a detailed review of your resident base, your EHR can assist by capturing unbilled revenue, thus documenting resident needs to justify transitions to higher levels of care. The EHR also enables you to differentiate between anecdotal and data-driven resident information.
Identify and Support Operational Efficiencies
As your community’s occupancy ebbs and flows, you must make informed decisions about staffing and other operational areas to run your business as efficiently as possible. By taking a comprehensive approach to an EHR, you can gain insight into your community’s key operating metrics, then adapt and adjust accordingly. If you have an executive dashboard as part of your technology infrastructure, you can regularly track:
· Marketing and finance
· Quality indicators
Based on what your dashboard shows, you can make better decisions about hiring, organizing shifts, changing programming and driving both internal and external communications.
You can also use your EHR as an underlying platform to improve overall care quality, which should help drive occupancy regardless of market factors. It can give you the perspective to truly see resident needs and find creative ways to address them.
Learn More About Using Technology to Tackle Your Occupancy Challenge
Low occupancy isn’t going away anytime soon, but technology can differentiate your community if you use it wisely. In collaboration with Senior Housing News, we’ve developed an eBook to help guide you forward. Take a look at it, to see if employing an EHR along with other technologies can enable you to mitigate losses and identify potential growth during these challenging times.