John O’Connor

Leave it to Robert G. Kramer to deliver potentially devastating news in a way that inspires hope.

Boiled down, here is a troubling message he shared last week in San Diego, during the 2020 NIC Spring Conference:

Non-traditional competitors (think the Walmarts, Amazons and CVSs of the world, for starters) are compiling information about older adults — with an eye toward converting your customers into their customers.

That’s the strong medicine. Here’s his spoonful of sugar to help it go down: You are ideally positioned to make sure that doesn’t happen, so long as you don’t stand pat.

The NIC’s Founder and Strategic Advisor called on attendees to seriously contemplate a changing operational landscape. The sector is increasingly being nudged to embrace home care’s growth, a volume-to-value shift, new partnerships and risk sharing, he noted.

Exactly how much operators should adjust to these new pressure points comes down to operational capacity and risk comfort. But deciding to do nothing is not really an option, he added.

As for lurking opportunity, it’s basically this: 60% of what drives health outcomes relates to two things communities are in a position to affect: behavior and environment. How? By things such as the food you serve, the activities you provide, the interaction you encourage and the physical surroundings you create. Do those things well, and you might lower residents’ risk of hospital admissions/readmissions (while perhaps extending lengths of stay).

Here’s my favorite slide from his presentation. It’s a mouthful, but every word resonates:

“In the future, healthcare will go to where seniors, especially frail seniors, live rather than forcing these seniors to go to the hospital or doctor’s office to receive their healthcare. Boomer consumers will demand it, technology will enable it, and payers (managed care) will pay for it, because they believe it will produce meaningful healthcare dollar savings.”

Feel free to recite that as a prayer before your next strategic planning meeting. For if you want a roadmap to the future of this field, there it is.

How best to traverse the path is up to you. But if you haven’t already done so, you might want to get moving. 

The academics have a saying: publish or perish. Perhaps the corollary for this sector is to adjust or become dust.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s