Tech Makes Senior Living a Preferred Player in ACOs

Technology will not only be a differentiator for the senior living operators who adopt it, but it will also be the catalyst in forging partnerships within Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

Such was the sentiment among a panel of senior living executives during last Thursday’s Senior Housing News Summit in Dallas. Operators are using technology to drive revenue and improve resident satisfaction within their organizations, but connecting with larger health systems and joining ACOs remains a challenge, they agreed.

As ACOs continue to establish partnerships among hospitals, clinics and primary care physicians, the adoption of technology makes senior living operators relevant and desired partners for these types of providers, operators said.

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“Senior living isn’t just the ugly step child any longer,” said Kris Hansen, CEO of Cedar Falls, Iowa-based Western Home Communities. “The opportunity for us to create savings is why they need to be working with us. This is all about the continuum of care and getting advanced and plugged-in to be preventative.”

In Western Home Communities’ immediate region sits UnityPoint Health System, the nation’s 13th largest non-profit health system that provides care across Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin in nine large geographic regions.

Taking advantage of its diverse service offerings, Western Home Communities contracts its “atHome with Western Home” home health care service line with UnityPoint at Home and UnityPoint Hospice.

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Although coordination is the name of the game when it comes to ACOs, some of the challenges Western Home Communities sees, like those facing its peers, is a lack of interoperability between providers’ various electronic reporting technologies.

“We’ve been working with a number of vendors to find a platform where we can manage residents and patients where they happen to be situated, so we can have a case management system that’s patient-client centered that moves with them all of the time,” Hansen said.

For others in the health care ecosystem to begin seeing opportunities with senior housing providers, it is critical for operators to make themselves relevant in the ACO discussion. And technology can be one avenue in helping them accomplish this.

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“Bridging the gap from a technology standpoint, we have to start pushing upstream rather than have ACOs come to us,” said Joe Jasmon, chief operating officer of The LaSalle Group, an Irving, Texas-based developer and operator of 32 memory care and assisted living facilities. “We have to sell our services to them. That makes interoperability a reality for us.”

“For the ACO and who that preferred partner is going to be, if you have the technology and can achieve the Triple Aim, the customer experience is going to keep weighing in,” said Hansen. “It’s not only about being marketable and preferred by private payers, but also being preferred by health systems and partnerships.”

Written by Jason Oliva

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