Voices: Eric Markow, Founder & CEO, Dual Path Connected Solutions

Voices: Eric Markow, Founder & CEO, Dual Path Connected Solutions

This article is sponsored by Dual Path Connected Solutions. In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Eric Markow, Founder & CEO, Dual Path, to discuss the importance of technology that is designed with seniors in mind. He explains Dual Path’s concept of Compassionate Support and delves into other senior-focused solutions that improve quality of life for residents, mapping out the benefits to operators, staff and the industry as a whole.

Senior Housing News: What career experiences do you most draw from, in your role today?

Eric Markow: I’ve done a lot of field work throughout my career, directly helping end users — often seniors — navigate their daily challenges with technology. One of my most memorable experiences involved a man in Oregon whose son configured a laptop in his father’s room with Skype to automatically answer incoming calls. This setup allowed him to check on his father’s health and well-being throughout the day, long before features like Amazon Alexa’s “Drop-in” were commonplace. It also created a bridge between independent living and assisted living, and although it wasn’t scalable beyond this one-to-one setup at the time, it showcased how technology could be used to meet fundamental needs that existing solutions were overlooking.

This encounter, and my experience managing the technology challenges faced by my parents in their 80s, highlighted the need to democratize and simplify technology for seniors, moving beyond reliance on a single device or tech expert. My background in the hospitality industry also helped me identify the gap between technology designed for hospitality and technology accessible to seniors, offering a unique perspective for opportunities to improve the user experience across the board.

These experiences drove me to launch Dual Path. The name is intentional, rooted in the idea of taking two approaches to achieve the same result, and the company is founded on the philosophy of integrating cutting-edge technology with a human touch to achieve optimal outcomes. Our approach combines security, reliability and scalability with an equal amount of compassionate support to address the technical and personal needs of seniors today.

What is Dual Path’s concept of Compassionate Support?

Our concept of Compassionate Support originated from my early experiences with the organization, including a visit I made to assist a resident who struggled with a speech impediment. When I first met with him, I learned about his success in managing portfolios of car dealerships and hundreds of salesmen, which made it even more challenging for him to deal with a medical condition that affected his speech. He was also feeling estranged from his wife and had difficulty communicating with staff, and the sharp contrast of his past and his current struggles profoundly impacted me.

It made me think deeply about the challenges faced by individuals experiencing health declines, and cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s or dementia, and how these conditions are altering their daily lives on multiple levels. This resident’s story, among others, sparked a stark realization about the diverse challenges our clients face, from health issues to family and financial struggles.

I was introduced to the concept of “companioning,” which emphasizes being present with someone and witnessing their life challenges. This approach inspired our Compassionate Support model, combining technical assistance with a deep sense of empathy and understanding for the individuals we serve. Our efforts to embody this philosophy have garnered exceptional feedback, with an average internal survey rating of 4.9 out of 5, which is reflected in our public reviews as well. Ongoing feedback from residents and staff shape our Compassionate Support methodology and help us refine our offering to make the greatest possible impact.

What technologies are having the biggest impact in senior living today and where does Dual Path fit into the mix?

Despite not being fully adopted yet, managed Wi-Fi is having a positive effect across the industry by enhancing connectivity and flexibility. This infrastructure supports the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, connected devices and smart building technologies, all of which are foundational for informatics, or the analysis of the vast data produced by these technologies.

Informatics involves processing these data points to generate reports, visualize data and identify trends. AI plays a key role in informatics by efficiently analyzing large datasets to derive meaningful insights. In senior living, applying AI to informatics is a significant opportunity that providers haven’t fully tapped yet.

Systems integration, or the seamless combination of various operational and care systems — like EHRs, IoT networks and other IT systems — is essential to avoid inefficiency and operational failures. The goal is to streamline access to these disparate systems so providers can enhance efficiency and job performance.

Within this context, Dual Path positions itself as a holistic technology service provider specializing in systems that are critical to senior living communities. We are focused on the entire process, from roadmapping and design to procurement to configuration, implementation and ongoing support. With the full spectrum of components in view, we can help providers successfully integrate technologies in a way that is most beneficial to their operations and communities as a whole.

How can operators and staff benefit most from adopting these technologies?

It starts with selecting the right technologies to get the desired business outcomes because each senior living community is different. Taking an outside-the-box approach and evaluating technologies for their specific application is key to achieving these outcomes. From there, providers should weigh the perspectives of each stakeholder, using analytics and business intelligence to pinpoint areas for efficiency improvements to make targeted interventions. Every step of the technology adoption process, including roadmapping, design, selection and implementation, will make a meaningful difference in the long run as providers consider the best solutions for their organizations.

On the staffing front, providers are facing more and more challenges with the Great Resignation and ongoing staffing shortages, so enhancing staff efficiency is another key consideration. Technologies that consolidate information into a central repository or automate tasks can significantly reduce staff workload while improving care quality and resident quality of life. This aligns closely with our mission to enhance life through technology and communication.

Choosing technologies must be a deliberate process, tailored to the specific challenges and opportunities of each community. The most significant benefits come from a thorough analysis of use cases and working with experts who can guide providers through the process from start to finish to make the maximum impact.

What tips do you have for ensuring the successful implementation of new technology?

For providers, understanding change management, investing in technology training, and establishing measurable KPIs is essential. But it’s also important to choose the right partner to guide you through the entire process. I spoke with a prospect at a convention two weeks ago who had invested over $250,000 in a staff communication system of wearable voice communicators. Unfortunately, since they didn’t have the appropriate technology roadmap and infrastructure, these devices were sitting in a closet collecting dust. Identifying the fit and infrastructure needs up front is critical, and it requires someone with the requisite knowledge on your team or your partner’s team to help navigate this process.

What are the most important characteristics of a property-wide Wi-Fi network in today’s senior living environment?

Our flagship product is a comprehensive wired and wireless network designed for various uses within a property. It offers Wi-Fi connectivity for residents, allowing them to connect their devices seamlessly as they move around. The key to a successful property-wide network in today’s senior living environment lies in its design and implementation — built not just for current needs, but for future applications as well.

A good network adds value by being scalable, secure, and constantly monitored, managed, and optimized. Failures are inevitable, so we are focused on fault tolerance to help providers maintain operations during outages. For example, we partner with RUCKUS, a wired and wireless manufacturer known for solutions with built-in fault tolerance to ensure the network is still functioning during repairs and routine maintenance.

I’m passionate about our work in senior living, which is why we approach technology differently, prioritizing care and the human element as much as the technology itself. Unlike many of the transactional hardware companies out there, we recognize senior living as more than a commodity. It’s about enhancing the quality of life, allowing seniors to live actively and joyfully, and empowering them to stay connected to their families and enjoy good health and well-being. This philosophy is fundamental to our approach.

Finish this sentence: “In 2024, the senior living industry will be defined by…”

…our ability to leverage technology to provide better care, better health outcomes and a better quality of life for residents.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length and clarity.

Dual Path is the only end-to-end property technology partner that designs, implements, and manages technology solutions designed specifically for senior living communities and their residents. To learn more about how senior-focused technology can benefit your communities, visit dualpath.net.

RUCKUS Networks builds and delivers purpose-driven networks that perform in the demanding environments of the industries they serve. To learn more about how RUCKUS helps to deliver an exceptional connectivity experience for every user and device, visit ruckusnetworks.com.

The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].

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