Measure What Matters

The formation of the Perennial Consortium, a collaboration between Christian Living Communities (Colorado), Juniper Communities (New Jersey), Ohio Living and managed services partner and risk management company AllyAlign Health, is an indication that senior living providers are aware that optimizing chronic care and risk management is essential for their survival and sustainability. The Consortium will launch Medicare Advantage (MA) special needs plans on a state-by-state basis and then sell ownership interest to senior living operators in each participating state.

This fully integrated clinical model of care is certainly admirable and brings with it a multitude of benefits for staff, residents, families and the organization. It is important to remember however, that no matter how good a provider gets at delivering care from an operational  or technological standpoint, they cannot achieve fully integrated person-centered care unless they are making each resident’s current needs and preferences their first and foremost priority. Similarly, person-centered care alone, without processes in place for measuring and evaluating resident outcomes in real-time, cannot succeed. Technology plays an important supportive role in combining the benefits of the fully integrated clinical model of care with the benefits of the person-centered model by providing critical tools for real-time assessment, planning, engaging and evaluation that individualizes care and engagement based on the unique needs and preferences of each resident.

At the end of the day, healthcare itself is the product delivered but the personalized experience offered to a resident, and how a provider tracks data to evaluate their progress, is the true measure of how successful and person-centered our care delivery really is.

Only when providers make fully integrated, person-centered care their number one priority, and commit to measuring their outcomes, will people view senior living as something they want to be a part of rather than something they may need but ultimately want to avoid.

Look no further than the latest viral Facebook post from a gentleman who declared that he would prefer to spend the end of his life living at a Holiday Inn rather than a nursing home. A follow-up article in Forbes explored why the post may have gone viral but seemed to miss an important component of this person’s desire: he was looking for an environment that offered hospitality as a core component of its business framework. And what is hospitality? It is feeling warmly welcomed and knowing that your preferences are understood by the organization you are staying at and that your needs are always the priority of staff members. What potential residents are seeking from their potential retirement, assisted living and skilled nursing options is a model that values them as a unique human being first and foremost and that care is tailored to precisely fit their unique needs and preferences every single day.

Although entrepreneurs and investors are quickly entering the senior care industry as they see opportunities grow as the population rapidly ages, many claim that technology innovations alone will be the defining feature of what makes an older adult choose a particular housing option. So it is refreshing to see in a recent Senior Housing News article, that Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, believes that technology can support fully integrated care, making it more efficient and streamlined, but that robots and other technologies will not and cannot replace human care: “Empathy is the most extreme end of a non-routine task there is, because it requires creativity, it requires humanity, it requires things that I personally don’t believe robots will ever be able to do.”

A truly beautiful example of fully integrated, person-centered care is the new collaboration between senior living provider Signature HealthCARE in Louisville, Kentucky and the non-profit Timeslips. Using Civil Money Penalty dollars and funding from charitable foundations, Signature HealthCARE is conducting theater performances that are developed by residents themselves in partnership with local artists and staff members and performed in front of community and family members. This is an example of elevating care beyond the clinical realm by focusing in on the human desire for personalized and collaborative engagement while also capturing outcome metrics on its success to encourage future investment in this model of care. As Timeslips Founder and CEO Anne Basting says, “It’s something that is incredibly powerful and meaningful for people to participate in — the elders, the staff, the volunteers who have lived in the same community and never visited the nursing home are integrated fully and are equally excited to be a part of this.”

Fully integrated, person-centered care looks beyond just the biological age of a person, their current chronic conditions and their disabilities and instead focuses on providing creative and meaningful engagement opportunities, which are measured and evaluated in real-time using technology, so that they are perfectly matched to a person’s changing needs and preferences.