Heard around the table: Provider execs listening to the right people

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor

When we're fortunate enough to host a special roundtable discussion, I usually look forward to getting to know the esteemed participants. Captains of the profession, they typically have evolved from nurses, business managers and doctors into C-suite inhabitants — extremely observant top executives, in fact.

That much was clear when McKnight's recently hosted a roundtable for top executives who pierced through a lot of the flap around accountable care organizations and future care models.

It was apparent they also have been keeping their eyes on the most important partners of all: Their residents.

“Don't underestimate the role of the patient when it comes to barriers to effective care management,” cautioned Neil Kurtz, M.D., the president and CEO of Golden Living, one of the nation's biggest nursing home chains.

“It's an opportunity, too,” he told the various strategy, operations and information officers assembled at the table. “When we've offered transitional care, patients respond. They crave continuity of care. That's a problem with our healthcare system: Continuity of care.”

Perhaps it merely harkens back to days when patients felt more connected with doctors they could count on seeing at every visit, without insurance plans or litigation dictating frequent changes.

Continuity. It's a comfort and it matters to the consumer. On the other hand, sometimes the term might appear lost on providers, who might see a continuum as a way to keep a paying customer in the system longer.

The smart provider will furnish a continuum of expertise, regardless, noted Bill Altman, executive vice president for strategy, policy and integrated care at Kindred Healthcare. In fact, his national chain focuses on integrated care processes more than ever, he said.

Kindred is aiming to get fuller physician coverage across all sites, from hospital to home, he noted. Transitional care models are being driven by specialists — who might be nurse practitioners, but not always. Social workers, pharmacists, nurses … “We have to be very flexible,” he said.

Kurtz, too, observed that because no one really knows what a long-term care service model ultimately will look like, his giant company is dabbling with many different kinds.

That's because he remembers his first rule: Be aware of the power of the resident/patient.

For as fellow roundtabler Patricia Butler, vice president strategic development for Advantage Management Group, reminded: “Patient satisfaction will be huge. The boomers know what they want.”

Namely, ongoing attention — across a continuum of care.

(Look for expanded coverage of the recent McKnight's roundtable meeting sponsored by MDI Achieve in the November issue of McKnight's Long-Term Care News.)


James M. Berklan is Editor at McKnight's.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.