As growth in the 85-plus population begins to accelerate in 2020, pressure only will mount to break down siloes in post-acute and senior care. Smart senior housing providers and investors already should start looking at Medicare-certified home care companies as valuable allies, according to research findings from Anne Tumlinson Innovations and the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), shared during a Feb. 22 webinar.
The idea that senior housing operators should connect with different health care silos, instead of viewing home care companies or other senior care service providers as competition, is different from what many operators and investors on the senior housing side have been thinking for years.
“Senior housing is a strong platform for managing the most expensive lives in the health care system, but to unlock that value we must have key partnerships and capabilities that include strategic relationships between health care, post-acute care and home care,” Anne Tumlinson, founder and CEO of Anne Tumlinson Innovations, said during the webinar.
The value can only be created when the silos of care are broken down, she added.
For instance, an independent living community could form a joint venture with a care management company, or a real estate-based organization like an assisted living community could form a partnership with a technology-enabled home care provider, she said.
Learning From Home Care
Currently, home care companies—not senior housing organizations—are the ones forging relationships with health systems. But senior living providers and investors could also benefit from these relationships.
“Home care appears to have primary relationships with health systems and hospitals,” Tumlinson said. “The lack of connection for senior housing investors is a missed opportunity to those organizations already connected in the health care space.”
One single partnership has the potential to connect a senior living provider, a home care provider and a major hospital system. Though a partnership of this size would take work, the outcomes could benefit all parties involved, she added.
No Radical Changes
On a very basic level, partnerships can open lines of communication among different silos in the health care sector to help find better ways to lower costs and improve patient success. What these partnerships don’t mean, however, is that a provider needs to change its entire business, Tumlinson pointed out.
“If you are a private pay assisted living provider, for example, you would not need to start accepting Medicare if you form a joint venture with a home care company that does accept Medicare,” she explained. “Our research has found that it’s much more like a coordination and navigational role that you’d be offering to the partner organization.”
For instance, Tumlinson said, if a resident at an assisted living community has a change in diet and needs medical attention, the community doesn’t necessarily need to employ its own doctor. In times like these, it helps to have access to a doctor through a hospital partnership.
In addition, if a provider has a solid partnership with a health care system, it could result in referrals from the hospital for new residents.
“There’s so much value in creating partnerships, but conversely, that value could be lost if one is not positioned to take it on,” Tumlinson said. “Partnerships should be entered with caution and be done over time. If you go all in right away you could lose your shirt.”
Written by Alana Stramowski