NIC Notes

Insights in Seniors Housing & Care

By: NIC  |  May 26, 2022

How to Leverage Healthcare Partnerships

Ideas and Discussion  |  NIC Spring Conference  |  healthcare

Solid partnerships with high-quality healthcare and ancillary service providers can help create better resident outcomes, longer length of stay, and added revenue streams. But what’s the best way to establish and manage a network of providers in a fragmented care system?

In an insightful discussion, a panel of experienced senior housing industry executives answered questions about how to implement innovative and effective partnerships. The session—“Leaning in and Leveraging Resources for Successful Partnerships”—was held at the 2022 NIC Spring Conference in Dallas.

The discussion was moderated by Brian Cloch, CEO and founder of Innovative Health; and Amy Kaszak, president, Special Needs Plans, AllyAlign. Panelists included Alan Fairbanks, executive vice president, Bickford Senior Living; Sheryl Marcet, chief investment officer, Arcus Healthcare Partners; Laurie Geschrey, director of value-based care and partner relations, Pathway to Living; and Chirag Patel, MD, chief medical officer, Hansa Medical Group.

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Here are the key Q&As from the session, edited for length and clarity.

Q: What are the benefits of partnership?

A: Partners add value. For example, Hansa Medical Group offers its medical care services in 120 senior living communities. Medical teams provide daily support to residents, reducing emergency room visits, and increasing the length of stay. The availability of medical support also eases the stress on the nursing and executive directors. “Our involvement reduces the workload of the staff,” said Dr. Patel. “Turnover is reduced.”

Good provider networks can also provide preventative care to help keep residents healthier. “The result is better resident satisfaction, and better staff satisfaction,” said Bickford’s Fairbanks.

Q: What are the advantages of value-based care partnerships?

A: With value-based care, a case manager follows the beneficiary through the continuum of care. That way, residents can be tracked and typically return to the community. Residents in the fee-for-service Medicare system who go to the hospital can get lost in the shuffle. “They may never some back to the community,” said Geschrey.

Equity provider Marcet said that coordinated care models translate to the bottom line. Capital partners are looking for best-in-class operators. “You’ll be left behind if you are not looking at coordinated care,” she said.

Q: What should you look for in preferred partners?

A: Partners must meet certain criteria, said Fairbanks. Bickford is looking for ways to create win-win partnerships to keep residents healthy, instead of having to react to emergencies. The goal is to incorporate home health, primary care, hospice and other services under one umbrella. “It’s a win for the staff,” said Fairbanks. “They aren’t scrambling to work with multiple doctors.” Geschrey added that providers must agree to work with each other.

Also, providers must be continually vetted and track outcomes. “You need providers you can trust,” said Geschrey. “Our job is to hold them accountable.”

Q: How do you talk to residents about using preferred providers?

A: Residents have to feel they have a choice about their care plan, the experts said. “Choice is about education,” said Cloch. Pathway to Living starts the process when prospective residents and their families come in for a tour. “We are proud of our coordinated care model,” said Geschrey. It’s important to highlight the advantages of the model and that a team is there to take care of their loved one, she added. Also, share results. The value-based care model has been operating in five Pathway communities for two years. About half of the residents are enrolled, reducing the days in the hospital or in rehab from 23%-25%.

For residents who want to keep their long-time doctor, Patel suggests to families that his group act as an in-house back up provider. When the family sees that it is easier to use the in-house doctor rather than taking the resident to outside appointments, the family will often switch to Patel’s group for primary care.

Q: Considering the staffing issue today, who manages the providers?

A: Bickford has a coordinator at the property. “We help them build a network,” said Fairbanks. As the primary care provider, Patel’s group coordinates care with the other providers along with the executive and nursing directors at the property.

Q: Are provider arrangements formal or informal agreements?

A: Both Pathway and Bickford have a written third-party provider agreement that includes operating standards. Patel’s group contracts with the insurance provider, not the building operator. There is, however, an understanding with the operator that Patel’s group will track data to show increased length of stay and reduced hospitalizations.

Conference attendees may access 2022 NIC Spring Conference recordings anytime.

Join us for the 2022 NIC Fall Conference, September 14-16 in Washington, DC; registration is now open.

About NIC

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to support access and choice for America’s seniors by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors and providers.

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