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Trends and Technology: Lessons from Covid for Deathcare Providers
Covid prompted a significant shift in the deathcare industry - we look at the importance of tech adoption to meet evolving needs and expectations.
| Read time: 5 mins
The deathcare industry faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-pandemic - pivoting to meet increased service demands, while meeting the challenges of social distancing and remote working.
This crisis prompted a significant shift, necessitating a reassessment of traditional practices and highlighting the importance of adopting technology solutions to meet evolving needs and expectations.
In this blog, we explore some lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the need for tech adoption, changes in consumer expectations, and the implications for the future of the deathcare industry.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Deathcare Services
The pandemic had a profound impact on the deathcare industry, necessitating a rethink of traditional approaches and practices. Here are just a few of the key lessons we can learn from this crisis.
Necessity of Technological Adoption
One of the most prevalent trends emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the accelerated adoption of digital tools and technologies, and within the deathcare industry, inarguably, those with remote access to their data were well equipped to adapt and remain agile - in large part due to having implemented cloud-based systems and technologies.
In this way, the pandemic revealed some of the limitations of traditional deathcare processes reliant on disjointed, paper-based systems. Lockdowns, social distancing, and the need to minimise physical contact presented unique challenges to an industry that has traditionally relied on in-person interactions.
Funeral directors, cemetery managers, crematory staff and others needed to rapidly embrace technology to continue providing essential services while adhering to public health guidelines.
For example, live-streaming funerals became a necessity to allow family and friends to participate virtually when attendance in person was limited, while many funeral homes adopted video conferencing platforms to facilitate remote viewings and consultations
The Importance of Crisis Preparedness
The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the need for crisis preparedness within the deathcare industry. In the face of another public health crisis, natural disaster, or unforeseen emergency, it is important to be well equipped to respond effectively and provide essential services. We might point to a number of lessons here, for example:
Comprehensive contingency plans in place to deal with a surge in deaths, navigate the complexities of managing a public health crisis, and address staffing, and logistical challenges that may arise.
Adequate supplies and equipment are critical for responding to an exceptional event - including personal protective equipment, body storage solutions, and transportation resources. Effective inventory management and proactive restocking are essential for ensuring operational continuity in challenging circumstances.
Regular and up-to-date training in crisis response and protocols is paramount for the safety and wellbeing of both staff and families, with team members being well-versed in the specific procedures and precautions necessary during a crisis.
Changing Consumer Expectations
It's not a leap to suggest that the pandemic reshaped, in some ways, how we view death and its associated rituals.
Social distancing measures and the fear of spreading the virus during gatherings led to a shift in the way we approached funeral services and arrangements. Direct cremation, for instance, grew as a more minimalistic and at-the-time safer option.
We might extrapolate this towards the trend towards consumers seeking alternatives to traditional funerals and burials.
Meeting the demand for pre-planning
The pandemic undoubtedly underscored the importance of end-of-life planning, making us more conscious of the need to prepare for the inevitable, while easing the burden on our loved ones. This shift in attitude creates an opportunity for the industry to engage with consumers in a more proactive and empathetic way in terms of pre-planning.
For example, funeral homes offering virtual consultations and pre-arrangement services to help families plan for the future, easing the emotional and logistical burdens during a time of crisis, or cemeteries providing online pre-need planning services with a greater transparency of service options and greater levels of engagement through marketing activities.
Implications for the Future
The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic have far-reaching implications for the deathcare industry. Technology adoption and changes in consumer expectations are reshaping the landscape and pointing toward an industry marked by innovation and modernisation.
Digital transformation is now a must-have.
The Role of Digital Transformation in Deathcare
Inarguably, as mentioned, those with remote access to their data were well equipped to adapt and remain agile - in large part due to having implemented cloud-based systems and technologies.
With regards to Covid, one of the key benefits of these technologies was in their capacity to support remote working, with unbroken access to data and operational functions. Here are just a few key takeaways from the response to Covid:
1. Remote Work Capabilities
Not to put too fine a point on it, cemetery management software may well serve as the linchpin for the transformation of the industry's operational landscape. Where remote working has become increasingly prevalent, cloud-based software is changing the game.
2. Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity
Another benefit is in enhancing disaster preparedness. In the event of natural disasters or emergencies, having data stored digitally ensures that critical information is preserved and recoverable, even if the physical infrastructure is compromised.
3. Remote Access to Data
In a similar vein, cloud-based systems offer real-time remote access to critical data. This means that no matter where staff are located, they can easily access and update vital information related to burials, plot reservations, and contracts - becoming part of the day-to-day - not just in times of crisis.
Cloud-based software ensures collaborative efficiencies by enabling staff to work seamlessly together from different locations. Information updated in real time means that remote work is streamlined and hassle-free - whether it's coordinating with colleagues, or managing operations.
5. Future-Proofing Operations
In our ever-changing world, adaptability is a virtue. Tech solutions can help to future-proof operations by facilitating the integration of new technologies and accommodating evolving industry requirements.
More broadly speaking, this tech adoption can benefit the industry in a number of ways:
1. Streamlining Processes
Automation and streamlining many of the administrative tasks associated with burial and interment, not only reducing the risk of errors but also ensuring greater efficiency.
2. Improving Operations
Digital cemetery systems can help to optimise resource allocation, maintenance scheduling, and inventory control, ensuring that cemeteries operate smoothly and provide better services to families.
3. Enhancing Communication
Effective communication is essential for a well-functioning deathcare ecosystem. Tech solutions can facilitate communication between cemeteries, funeral directors, masons, and other stakeholders, leading to better coordination of services.
4. Meeting Digital Expectations
Consumers increasingly expect a level of digital interaction and convenience in all aspects of their lives, including deathcare services. Maintaining that balance between self-service and personal service is key, but tech can help providers meet these expectations by offering things such as: online services, interactive maps, and mobile apps.
The Future of Deathcare: Lessons in Practice
The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic serve as something of a catalyst for change. So how can we thrive in this evolving landscape?
1. Embrace Technology
Continued adoption of technology is essential moving forward - that includes investing in tech solutions, as well as exploring the practical applications of tools such as virtual memorials and online platforms that offer clients a seamless and personalised experience
2. Diversify Service Offerings
The rise of direct cremation and alternative forms of memorialisation signifies the need for diversified service offerings. Deathcare providers should be prepared to accommodate new and emerging preferences, from traditional funerals to eco-friendly burial options.
3. Proactive family engagement and pre-need
Changing attitudes toward death and end-of-life care may require a more proactive approach to family engagement - including offering pre-planning services, grief support, and education to help clients navigate the complexities of end-of-life decision-making
4. Collaborate and Communicate
Effective communication and collaboration between deathcare stakeholders are essential for seamless service delivery. Innovations such as cemetery management software are a great way of facilitating communication between cemeteries, funeral directors, and other partners, ensuring a coordinated approach and better customer service.
With everything said, the main lessons from Covid in terms of deathcare is how amazingly resilient and compassionate our service providers continue to be and that the safety of staff and families is paramount.
The lessons in terms of trends and tech are paving the way for positive change, and as it looks to the future, it’s clear that embracing technology, diversifying service offerings, and proactively engaging with families can help to ensure it remains efficient and empathetic in our ever-evolving world.
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