World Health Care Congress Insights

World Health Care Congress Insights

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Robert Pearl, M.D.. The Permanente Medical Group

I have attended the World Health Care Congress the last two years and it has been very insightful in understanding where healthcare is going and the impacts it can have on both consumers and the long term care services and supports sector. With this year's Congress just concluded, let's look at some key findings from last year.

The keynote panel featured Robert Pearl, M.D. Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group; Scott Streator, Vice President, Health Insurance Marketplace, Caresource; and Jeff Gold, Senior VP and Special Counsel, Health Association of New York State.

Each first shared how the Affordable Care Act has impacted their organizations and how well providers are adapting to it. Consolidation was one of the first things discussed. Dr. Pearl suggested that 20-30% of hospitals could go away as care moves to other settings. Gold suggested that hospitals have to think about the future of care outside their walls while they continue to build infrastructure that they cannot sustain.

There is a sumilar impact in long term care. If we indeed move to a more healthier society and honor the boomers desire to age in place, what will long term care do with its excess capacity? Yes right now we are in the boom years as the oldest of the old start occupying assisted living. Yet it is still a have and have not world. As more people prepare for aging sooner, understand how much it costs to live in AL, and understand that it is paid for mostly out of pocket, they will make even more concerted efforts to avoid what you have.

So are you prepared to move to assisted living in the home or embrace tele-medicine as a solution? What is your long term vision?

The drive toward quality will also start segmenting the market. And as transparency grows, value based purchasing takes hold and more metrics evolve particularly in assisted living, the public will be able to make more informed choices.

And just as in hospital healthcare, the organizations with the best reputations/brands have been shown not to be the ones that have the best quality. As the public catches on they will uncover this.

Dr. Pearl also addressed the elephant in the room. With consolidation will come a reduction in the workforce. Granted some will be dispersed into community settings. With that is evolving the role of community healthcare workers, lower paid staff that will be trained to go into the home and use technology to assist in the care of patients.

While the World Health Congress clearly is not about long term care issues, there are lessons we can learn by observing what is happening with the hospital providers we want to be partners with and we can start to extrapolate what some of these seismic changes could mean to the models of care we now have in long term care.

Streator noted that irregardless of one's thoughts about the Affordable Care Act, even if it is not a perfect solution, it will force innovation for survival.

Are you ready to innovate to survive?

One Example

The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation created the Healthy Aging and Independent Living (HAIL) Lab to support aging in place, helping seniors remain at home, healthy and independent.

HAIL is housed in Charter House, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester, Minn., with over 400 residents and is physically connected to Mayo Clinic.

The HAIL Lab is a place for focus groups, as well as for designing, prototyping and piloting new services and technologies with voluntary participation from residents of Charter House, Mayo patients and other community agencies.

There are two mock-up apartments for in-lab experiments simulating a typical home experience. Each apartment has a bedroom, kitchen, den and bathroom. The lab also includes a room for focus groups and observations, an assistive technology lending library, a design studio and rooms for other experiments.

The HAIL Lab is supported by a consortium of organizations that provide strategy, expertise and financial support. "We are hoping to collaborate with organizations that share a vision with Mayo to support this growing segment of our population — helping seniors remain at home, in a connected and safe manner," says Barbara Spurrier, administrative director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation. "We intend to pilot new services, care models and technologies around such themes as connection and engagement, health and wellness, and home safety."

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