Senior Living Execs Point to Benefits of Value-Based Care

Whether or not it goes away, value-based care—or patient-centered care—is a good thing for the senior living industry, according to a panel of senior living executives who spoke last week at the 2016 PointClickCare SUMMIT in Orlando, Florida.

Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has done a great deal to change how the senior living industry thinks about service and care, Lynne Katzmann, founder and president of Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Juniper Communities, said during the panel presentation. Though she expressed hope that the ACA would not be repealed under a Donald Trump presidency, Katzmann stressed that value-based care would work well for senior living in the future, regardless of whether or not the the law is repealed.

“Value-based care is really what it’s all about, anyway,” she said. “It’s about taking care of somebody regardless of where they are in their disease process, in their life process.”

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When it comes to residents, senior living providers care about the health of the whole person, she said.

“And for us in senior living, that makes sense, doesn’t it?” Katzmann asked. “What do we do in assisted living, what do we do in long term care—is not just health care. We provide life enrichment, we provide good nutrition, we make sure the home is safe and secure—all the things that people have to organize at home, we do for them. It makes sense that we are looking at a patient for life, a resident for life.”

As a concept, value-based care just makes sense, Kim Estes, Brookdale Senior Living’s (NYSE: BKD) senior vice president, clinical services, said during the panel discussion.

“It just makes sense that we should be paid on the quality, the value that we bring,” Estes said. “I think it’s just the best thing, and we’ll have to embrace it.”

Even if value-based care ends up falling out of favor in America under the incoming Trump Administration, its practice would still benefit senior living providers nationwide, suggested Bill Dillane, president of Toronto, Canada-based The Responsive Group Inc. and PointClickCare’s board chairman. The Responsive Group provides comprehensive services for the operation of senior housing communities and long-term care homes, as well as mentoring, consulting and restructuring services.

Canada, for instance, does not have value-based care or the ACA. But senior living communities in Canada that operate as though there is value-based care can improve their reputations and stand out in a competitive environment.

“It’s still a competitive landscape; individuals get to choose which long-term care home they want to go to if they’re in the hospital or if they’re waiting for long-term care after acute care,” Dillane said.

Tips and tricks for value-based care success

Senior living providers are approaching patient-centered care in different ways. Juniper Communities, for instance, uses a high-tech, high-touch approach to tackle patient-centered care, Katzmann explained.

Senior living providers can’t make value-based care delivery work without an electronic health record (EHR), and one that can be shared with ancillary services, she added. Providers must also employ a “human navigator,” or a medical concierge, to help manage and schedule residents’ various appointments. And providers should adopt specific protocols of communication, outlining how data is collected, when and where it is shared, and what is done with it in general.

“What are the services that we need to coordinate?” Katzmann asked. “The most important service is primary care. Primary care is the connector between acute care and care in the community. Primary care is the key thing you’ll need to have if you’re going to have the continuum of services.”

Brookdale has similarly recognized the need to oversee a residents’ care and has begun using care transition managers, Estes explained. As it turns out, this type of role may be gaining traction across the industry.

“That role of care coordination manager, transition manager, it feels like a very new role, not a lot of organizations have them,” PointClickCare Chief Technology Officer Dave Wessinger said during the panel discussion. “It feels like that’s going to be a role that will be fairly critical as you move forward.”

So, what’s the payoff for putting all of this effort into doing well in patient-centered, value-based care? A bolstered reputation and likely even a better return on investment, the executives agreed.

“The return is our reputation,” Dillane said. “We believe on a long-term basis that’s just going to make us the home of choice.”

Katzmann agreed, noting that Juniper’s embrace of value-based care has resulted in cutting-edge programs and a flexibility that sets it apart from other providers.

“Reputation is everything, especailly when you’re a smaller company.” she said.

Plus, if providers have all sorts of services residents need on-site—pharmacy, labs, primary care, home health care—they can keep residents healthier, for longer periods of time. Healthier residents have longer lengths of stay, and length of stay directly impacts a provider’s return on investment, Katzmann said.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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