Amazon Care, Ascension Help Launch Alliance to Bring More Care Into Seniors’ Homes

Amazon Care and St. Louis-based health system Ascension are helping to launch a new home-based care policy alliance with at least five other health care and home-based care companies.

The alliance, called Moving Health Home, has a stated goal of “working to change federal and state policy to enable the home to be a clinical site of care,” according to its website. Founding members include Amazon Care, Landmark Health, Signify Health, Dispatch Health, Elara Caring, Intermountain Healthcare, Home Instead and Ascension.

Ascension’s senior living arm, Ascension Living, is the fourth-largest non-profit organization of its kind in the United States with more than 40 locations, according to the most recent LeadingAge Ziegler 200 report. Amazon Care is a medical platform from retail and technology giant Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) that emphasizes virtual care and telemedicine.

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Other organizations involved in Moving Health Home also have involvement in senior living. For example, Intermountain is a health system that works with Summit Vista, a life plan community in Utah.

“The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the untapped potential of home-based clinical care, and the opportunity for a more robust set of services ranging from primary care to hospital-level treatment,” reads a March 3 announcement about the launch. “The advent of telehealth, remote monitoring, digital therapeutics, provider home visiting, medical records sharing, and other technology has shown that care in the home can be at least equivalent to, if not better than, care offered in facilities.”

While the organization didn’t specify which places older adults call home, the word also conceivably applies to the senior living communities where residents live.

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The organization is seeking to make more home-based options available for primary care, behavioral health, chronic disease management and more clinical, hospital-like care.

Other policy priorities include retaining “hospital without walls” program, which gives hospitals regulatory flexibility to provide services beyond their walls; changing reimbursements for home-based evaluation and monitoring codes; advocating for a bundled payment model for care in the home; and securing more flexibility for home-based care services to meet commercial and Medicare Advantage network standards.

The inclusion of Amazon Care in the policy alliance could signal more willingness on the part of the technology and retail giant to involve itself in the senior housing and care space. The company last November launched an Alexa app called Care Hub, and made new tools available through Alexa for Hospitality. The company’s Echo devices are also now commonplace in tech-forward senior living communities.

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Juniper Communities CEO Lynne Katzmann, who has anticipated the “Amazon-ification” of health care in the past, believes that while details are still sparse, the organization’s members and stated goals are notable.

“They understand there is a policy discussion surrounding the definition of what constitutes the home, and how care in the home can be paid for,” Katzmann told SHN. “There is a huge business opportunity here, and that business opportunity could be in senior housing as well.”

For now, there are no indications that Moving Health Home is seeking to compete with or replace senior housing as a care choice for older adults. But, the industry should pay attention to the organization all the same, particularly as senior living providers in recent years have made strides toward increasing the provision of care — including on-site primary care — within communities. Some providers believe that having more robust health care offerings will be even more important in attracting future residents in light of Covid-19, which increased consumer interest in senior living providers’ clinical capabilities.

“Is this a threat? It could be in terms of care and services,” Katzmann said. “I think it presents challenges, but also great opportunities. I could see us as senior housing providers doing the same thing.”

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