When Care Innovations announced a few weeks ago that it would be “doubling down” on its product offerings to narrow its focus exclusively to senior care and aging in place, Senior Housing News was curious: What does that mean for the joint venture between technology innovator Intel and healthcare giant GE?
We spoke with Louis Burns, who has been with Intel for 30 years and is currently serving as the chief executive officer of Care Innovations. During the interview, Burns talked about the need to coordinate—rather than ‘silo’—care for seniors; how healthcare reform is shaping senior living’s role in the care continuum with the help of technology; and why he thinks that effectively providing care at home will eventually become as commonplace as personal computers and multi-capability cellphones.
Senior Housing News: Can you talk about how Care Innovations’ focus is changing?
Louis Burns: We’ve been working in the healthcare business for eight years now. One thing became very, very clear to us: things like independent living, chronic disease management– many solutions in the marketplace are segmented and siloed.
From talking to customers, etc., that is not how people consume technology. We’ve taken a pretty strong view that removal of those silos is important. Coordination of care is really important.
We’re taking the company strongly to that position from the development point of view. ‘If Mom has a chronic disease, how do these systems work together?’
Because of that vision, we’re getting out of the education business, and focusing entirely on health and aging. The Reader was a cool product, but we have to make the hard decisions to say no and focus all of our resources on where they can make the biggest difference.
SHN: How do you expect your presence will grow in both senior living communities and peoples’ homes across the country in upcoming years?
LB: This is the first market I’ve worked in, in my career, where market size and need is undeniable. Opportunity-wise, we’re seeing that people are getting older and dealing with more chronic conditions, but they want to maintain an active lifestyle.
The opportunity is there. If someone’s going to be very active while living with multiple chronic conditions, they’re going to want to manage that lifestyle. They’re not going to just want to be sitting around.
For the people who want to live at home longer, how can we help them do that? The people in assisted living– how do we help that facility be a better place for them to live?
We’re way early in the penetration of the market. That means lots of room to grow. The market potential is large and is still early in development.
SHN: What is healthcare reform’s impact on the aging care market?
LB: If you look back at the healthcare system, it has traditionally focused on hospitals and doctors offices. But with doctors and hospitals being held more financially accountable for what happens outside of their facilities, senior living is going to be an important part of that continuum.
Doctors need to know how to take care of Mom at home—and for her, home might be the assisted living facility she lives in.
The Affordable Care Act is spurring new payment and care delivery models, and all of those things are still getting sorted out. The market’s still young, and the potential is really high. Hospitals are talking to assisted living facilities—which typically they wouldn’t do—but it factors into the overall care of an 82-year-old.
SHN: How can businesses and industries plan and coordinate innovation?
LB: There are a couple things they can do. Smart monitoring technology enables [senior living providers] to create a safer environment in the sense of, ‘If Mom goes out of her pattern, there is someone go check on her.’
That creates an advantage of doing a better job for residents, creating a more efficiently-run business that enables people to stay in their facilities longer. It’s good for the resident, and good for the business.
Senior care providers have a wonderful capability within bricks and mortar [to care for people]. That same capability could be extended to the community to someone who’s not quite ready to move in. You can see some pretty progressive providers doing this through virtual senior living. It’s not a replacement, but it’s an extension of their existing business.
We’re working closely with a large number of these guys. We can provide some technological solutions. There’s a wide range of those who are very aggressive, and those who are just starting to do some base-level technology.
SHN: What are some trends in both technology and healthcare that you’ve tracked in your 30 years with Intel?
LB: I started at Intel in 1981. I sat in meetings at Intel in my career where there was a discussion that said, ‘Is there a possibility that you could actually have a computer in everybody’s home?’
That seems like an absurb thought now. But you think about it, and that wasn’t a sure thing [back then]. Now, with personal computers– it’s hard to imagine kids going off to college without them. They’re part of the fabric of what we do.
It’s the same thing with phones: these days, cell phones have more capabilities than just talking to someone.
I think we’re probably at a stage where the concept of managing someone’s care in a place other than the hospital or doctors office in an active way. Oftentimes in the beginnings of these discussions, it seems like almost an impossibility; but I believe that 10 years from now, it will be hard to imagine a past where it wasn’t true.
I happen to believe the ability to help manage peoples’ condition wherever they are in a fashion that helps them live their lifestyle is going to happen, in the not too distant future. That will be[come] commonplace.
The market potential is big. The opportunity is large. The need is real. As an industry, we need to work hard to come up with really good solutions that follow the issues for people where they’re at in the lifestyle they want to live. We’ve got a lot to do, but I think we’re on a good path.