Arick Morton headshot
Arick Morton

Businesses in every industry are grappling with the best way to harness the power of artificial intelligence in their daily workflow and long-range strategies.

Elements of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning models, have been embedded in the software that powers our work and everyday lives for years, but the release of astonishing consumer-facing tools in spring of 2023 captivated the public’s imagination. Those technologies are here to stay, and strategic business leaders should consider the best way to harness their power to extend their teams’ capabilities.

Senior living executives have two key decisions to make to move forward with AI-enabled solutions:

  1. What jobs will those AI tools perform inside your organization? 
  2. Who will provide artificial intelligence tools to your organization?

What jobs should AI perform inside your organization?  

It’s tempting to apply AI tools to existing tech services (for example, hands-off email inbox management) or to imagine AI as an independent colleague of sorts. As users and engineers of those tools, we advise senior living leaders to consider AI an augmenter and extender of their talented teams, not at all a fully automated replacement.

AI has some very clear strengths and weaknesses, and housing leaders must look for matches between its capabilities and their teams’ burdens or blind spots. Three core capabilities of AI to remember:

  1. AI can accelerate repetitive or cumbersome work. AI has the capability to accelerate and enrich the decision-making process for senior living leaders, delivering data-related tasks critical to senior housing investment, market research and operations. Those tasks can be cumbersome and time-consuming for teams but easily automated with AI tools. For example, we’ve found that AI is a real boon for workers responsible for standardized communications around regulatory compliance. Multiply that convenience by numerous other routine tasks each week and you start to see how time savings add up, freeing your talented staff for higher-value activities.  
  2. AI is a powerful way to hardwire best practice. Tasks where humans’ attention to detail might flag, or unwanted variation in analyses, might produce poor decisions are rich opportunities to apply AI’s diligence and speed. Examples include rent roll analysis, investment due diligence, contract comparison and job description drafting. If each employee taps into an enterprise AI toolkit, then you can specify the rules of the road for specific AI tasks, hardwiring best practice into each employee’s performance of that task.  
  3. AI unlocks enrichment of data-driven decisions. Enterprise AI offers the ability to embed contextual data into decision support inside your organization. Consider when you might want benchmark data, such as market averages, served to you alongside analysis of your own organization’s data for additional context. If the information is made available to the AI, then it quickly can be queried and give your decision-makers much richer information to base decisions on.  

Who should provide AI to your organization? 

Your current suppliers, vendors and partners will embed those powerful tools into their own services to you. For example, expect suppliers to continue to optimize and improve their supply chain management with AI-enabled tools, or consider how healthcare providers will use AI enabled predictive tools. But you will be responsible for selecting the provider of AI tools for your own team. Choose wisely, and make sure your partners are focused on the business of senior living.  

Part of the attraction of AI tools is the intuitive user experience in the latest versions of natural-language interfaces. Those easy-to-use experiences democratize access to powerful computing even for nontechnical users and are, candidly, a delight to use. High-quality results, however, still require skilled engineering “under the hood.” That’s why we recommend always working with an AI partner that truly understands the senior living industry and what separates an elite output from a mediocre one. 

Technology providers are eager to capitalize on the artificial intelligence excitement, and the enterprise software giants promise that their tools can be configured to serve any business in any industry. But AI models work best and improve most when they are aimed at well-matched tasks within a business and focused on best practices specific to that industry.

A generic tool will return a generic result and place an increased burden on the end-user to guide the AI to improve itself or to validate the results. Most senior living organizations will be best served by a senior living-specific platform that is scalable to enterprise level but still specific to senior living’s unique challenges and data sources.  

Our industry is data-rich and carries the unique burden of resident care. We should not miss the opportunity to develop and deploy AI tools that are deeply customized for our needs. Connecting with an AI partner that deeply understands our industry is imperative to success. 

Arick Morton is the CEO of NIC MAP Vision, providing senior living supply, demand and operational data.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living guest column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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