Innovation and Technology Stressed at Annual LeadingAge Conference

For the 9,000 senior living professionals attending the 2011 LeadingAge Annual meeting this week in Washington, DC, it’s all about embracing the challenges presented before them, to deliver better, more innovative care to aging Americans.

In his annual address, Larry Minnix, CEO of LeadingAge, listed six “imperatives” for members, including flexing the strength of not-for-profit values and traditions; leading innovation; creating a new financing paradigm; and leading in pioneering technology.

As part of the call to action, he stated that strategic partnerships between industry participants will need to go deeper to achieve increased revenues and drive cost savings among senior care providers. He stressed the importance of leadership in both innovation and technology.

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“It is imperative that we lead innovation,” he said in his address. “The aging experience creates complicated dynamics in every dimension of society. It has to go beyond market share and demographics and statistics. Ultimately, we must address the very fundamental… issues that confront us all as we age.”

The only way we can solve economic problems is through innovation, he continued.

“Innovation is the only safe road to the future,” Minnix said.

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Solutions for the nation’s long-term care problem rooted in the quality of care that will be provided, and today’s quality standards will set forth an expectation of what’s to come as the funding mechanism for long-term care faces changes in the public and private markets during the coming years, Minnix said.

In terms of financing, Minnix said they must find ways to produce better results, more efficiently.

“We must find creative ways to access capital that’s sitting on the sidelines,” he said.

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He also called for continued investment and utilization of technology as a means to deliver better quality care today and in the future where monitoring devices and data can be linked to provide the extensions for a connected aging platform.

There was a buzz about the future of the CLASS Act after Friday’s announcement that the Obama Administration is not going to proceed with the program, raising further concerns about the process of implementing healthcare reform.

LeadingAge, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, was a strong proponent and advocate for the CLASS Act.

“Call the White House, HHS [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] and tell your congressman, ‘Give CLASS a chance,'” Minnix said. “It’s the only alternative we know about to help innovative financing to get us out of the current situation we’re in with Medicaid.”

He closed his address with a forward looking message.

“There is a roadway in every wilderness if we forge it,” he said. “Our future propels us forward, and that’s what we mean by expanding the world of possibility for aging.”