As Health Care Evolves, Senior Living Must Coordinate to Compete

It’s no secret that the senior housing industry is in the midst of navigating an environment becoming defined by coordinated care, with accountable care organizations (ACOs) emerging in an attempt to take on the task of providing the highest quality care at the lowest possible cost.

But this collaboration is becoming both a competitive advantage as well as a necessity for providers, suggested professionals at the annual National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) conference last week in Chicago.

“Addressing [a] lack of coordination is an imperative and is an opportunity,” said Thomas H. Lee, chief medical officer at Press Ganey Associates. “Meeting people’s needs [and] creating value by meeting their needs as efficiently as possible — that’s the overall strategy. And the ability to reach across sectors and to collaborate is actually becoming a competitive advantage.”


It is no longer enough for providers to get a resident in the door. Instead, they must focus on improving outcomes and efficiency across the care continuum, he said. In turn, this will create a competitive advantage that leads to greater market share.

The ACO model, a pilot for which has been several years under way under Medicare, has emerged as a target for senior living providers to access shared savings and efficiencies. However, several of the pioneer ACOs have recently called it quits, stirring concerns that even the most sophisticated health care organizations may be unwilling to take on the risks of providing coordinated care, despite some of the benefits.

Still, other ACOs are meeting with skilled nursing facilities and demanding that certain communication and collaboration protocols be met, or their business will be moved elsewhere, Lee said.


Facing the risk of losing business, along with the increasing pressures to provide better care at lower costs, will drive providers to collaborate and integrate.

So despite the failed systems, in the coming years collaboration and coordinated care will become imperative as baby boomers dominate the space.

“Baby boomers have transformed every institution through which they have passed,” Lee said. “Housing and health care for seniors will be no different. They value coordination and integration — and will move market share accordingly.”

Written by Emily Study

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