Guest Columns

2015: The year of innovation

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Jon Kole
Jon Kole

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015, now is the time to make a New Year's resolution of innovation. While each long-term care facility will chart its own course, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale has found three core avenues of innovation: short-term rehabilitation, an outsourced pharmacy offering, and an increased emphasis placed on customer service and quality.

Developing new models of programs and services is not always easy, but it is essential for long-term care facilities to stay afloat in a challenging and competitive environment.

Long-term are facilities have embraced rehabilitation services as an essential department to care for older adults following a hospital stay. The Hebrew Home recently formed a strategic partnership with the New York Presbyterian Hospital System (NYPHS).  This partnership, which is reciprocal in nature, has provided both organizations the opportunity to share clinical resources and expertise and increase continuity of care for our patients. The result is a comprehensive and interdisciplinary rehabilitation unit that includes Rehabilitation physicians from NYPHS staff, working with nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists, dieticians and social workers from the Hebrew Home. This has given our patients a seamless step in their transition home. 

We also took a close look at our pharmacy in terms of efficiencies, cost and a customer-focused approach. When we evaluated it, we felt it was limited in several areas and decided to pursue a new solution, which would provide medication accurately and timely, with on-the-spot medication distribution. We are creating a full-time, on-site pharmacy, interfacing with residents and families, reinforcing our focus on customer service.

A third area that we reviewed this year is customer service. We felt that if customer service was to be a priority, it needed to become its own department. After doing so, we experienced a 50% reduction in complaints received by administration. Since at least half of resident requests are non-clinical, we realized that this customer service team could address many of the day-to-day resident concerns.   

These are just three examples of how long-term care facilities can take a closer look at their organization and identify areas to develop in a more efficient, cost-saving, customer-driven manner. The year ahead is going to be a critical time in the history of many nursing homes.  Therefore, thinking outside of the box should be one of your top priorities. One may look at combining the functionalities of staff in new and creative ways, pursuing new technologies to support a more diverse patient population and stressing the importance of teamwork as we all work hard to support this process of moving forward.

The best New Year's resolution you can make is that of innovation. As the great Milton Berle once said, “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.

Jon V. Kole is the assistant vice president in administration at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.