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The Importance of Rapid Innovation

By: Sanjeev Shetty, Chief Global Strategy & Innovation Officer

The current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic is deeply unsettling for senior living providers across the globe. They’re maintaining operations while trying to protect and reassure employees, residents and families. There is fear, uncertainty and concern about the future and anxiety about what the ‘new normal’ will look like. This has caused a slowdown in decision making - a pause in many cases to rethink what to expect next in the weeks and months ahead as the economy re-opens. The three biggest challenges in today’s environment revolve around taking action and moving forward, keeping up with fluid regulations, legislation, and a barrage of information and news, and most importantly, finding work-life balance while achieving a healthy mindset. I often say, with Covid-19, we are fighting an enemy that not only affects our body but also brings out our own worst fears of social isolation. This dual threat to the body and mind caused by the virus requires us to rethink what is most important to us. I propose that Social connection is most important.

Innovation, in my mind, is iterative thinking and adapting to your environment. It is no surprise that the business landscape is changing at a rapid pace, so much so that ideas and technology that people had started talking about as being futuristic are now quickly becoming a reality, shifting the mindset of many from a “nice to have” to a “we must have” approach. So how does innovation play a pivotal role in solving the challenges mentioned above?

First, I think innovation has to solve a problem or challenge. Once the problem is defined, innovation or innovative thinking can be applied to solve it through both technology and process changes, in an iterative approach. The key to innovation is failing fast, taking risks and trying new things until it’s perfected. More importantly, innovation does not mean giant leaps forward; it can be new ways of doing old things, one step at a time.

At Connected Living, our mission for the last decade has been to connect, protect and engage seniors and their families. We always knew social isolation existed -- even before the pandemic. With the onset of the pandemic, the social isolation issue is under the microscope. We are all too familiar with the images of family members waving to one another outside glass windows or hugging each other using plastic covers to practice social distancing.

I will provide two examples where Connected Living has used innovative thinking to enhance social engagement and increase safety measures to directly fight the pandemic, in order to keep its senior living partners protected and operating businesses in the new normal. At the onset of the pandemic, we quickly realized residents needed more interaction, whether it be in the room or with family members. We swiftly developed an in-room, one of a kind, AppleTV app to provide residents with the capability to:

• Watch YouTube Live in real-time or view recorded content anytime • View calendars and RSVP to community events • Submit Service Requests • Order Meals (integration with Community POS and other Menu-related systems) • Join remote activities through Zoom • Access to The Great Courses Plus App – video lectures on various topics, including science and history

Simultaneously, we introduced the world’s first personal robotics platform to senior living. TEMI - An innovative, video-oriented, friendly robot that performs the following actions:

• Visits residents in their rooms • Connects residents with friends, family, entertainment and companionship • Interacts with residents through the Connected Living unique Alexa skill • Performs hands-free, autonomous temperature capture & sanitation • Supports virtual doctor visits

On the safety front, we introduced solutions to handle the most basic tasks within a community:

  1. SCREEN: Our screening process uses an innovative hands-free approach to screen visitors or employees entering the building and capture medical grade temperature readings. We devised a workflow that suits the needs of a safer handsfree check-in environment.

  2. SANITIZE: Our sanitizing solution uses EPA certified, handsfree “clean patrol” mode on the temi robot to sanitize the air in heavily trafficked areas such as lobbies. We buillt a 3D tray for our robots to carry the defoggers and spray the liquid into the air to kill pathogens and viruses.

  3. Covid TEST: The testing strategy we offer tackles the virus differently and is not intended to test for active viral load. Currently, RTCPR is the definitive test for active viral load infections and is unfortunately the primary focus. This test can be lengthy, laborious and limited to labs. Our testing system is designed to quickly and easily segment a broad swath of the general population into the 3 groups identified below:

Connected Living Covid test details:

1. Individuals who have previously been infected with Covid -19 – they are recovered and are carriers of antibodies – The IgM/IgG test will accurately identify them as having had it in the past resulting in them having immunity to the virus.

2. Individuals who are currently asymptomatic with active Covid-19 - This IgM/IgG  test will test positive for the antibodies starting at day 4-7, but this group will need further testing via RTCPR to determine their viral load (prior to day 4 it is ineffective)

3. Individuals who are neither infected nor carry antibodies with no symptoms - This test will show negative results up until day 4

By innovating in the realms of engagement and safety, Connected Living stays true to its mission to provide technology solutions that improve quality of life and business processes. Many communities are now asking questions like “Do I invest in labor to take someone’s temperature and clean surfaces or would I rather use a resource to take care of my residents?”

Gregory D. Smith, President & CEO of Maplewood stated “We had our eyes on temi for quite some time and were planning to launch them as a unique feature at Inspir - our soon-to-be-opened, luxury modern senior living residence in Manhattan. However, while we were closely monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus abroad, we quickly decided that temi would be tremendously beneficial in keeping residents safe, engaged and connected with family and healthcare providers during a time of social distancing."

Innovation is at the core of everything we do at Connected Living. We wake up to make everyday matter! We create social impact through our sophisticated, yet easy to use technology, and serve those who are most vulnerable amongst us. Innovation is moving at an unprecedented pace, now. Technology that would have matured 10 years from now in different circumstances, such as telehealth, is now a basic necessity. This is an area of focus for Connected Living. We plan to have a fully integrated solution very soon.

My favorite quote on innovation is by Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”

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