Like many of the top issues of the day, we cannot improve healthcare in long-term post-acute care without deep collaboration. Although technology is advancing rapidly, we can continue to do more by way of implementation of technology to improve care in this sector. 

A big part of this problem boils down to activating shared goals in partnership to achieve greater incentives and adoption. Streamlining workflows, strengthening care delivery, supporting provider well-being, easing the staffing crisis at hand, and improving resident outcomes remain top priorities for so many across the sector. 

To turn these priorities into results and enable the full potential of our care system, we must incentivize increased interoperability in the senior care setting and work together to usher in a new paradigm of care partnership, one that allows providers to do what they do best: provide quality care.

Growing demand from an aging population

Looking ahead into the not-so-distant future, the U.S. is less-than-equipped to handle the largest generation of elderly adults in human history: Baby Boomers. This generation is living longer and has better safety nets than previous generations; however, research indicates they are more likely to be divorced, carry debt and manage a chronic condition.

An already strained long-term care industry is marked by fewer caregivers to assist with this generation’s care needs in addition to the existing senior population. Consider this: By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be considered seniors, and the population of people 65 and older is expected to nearly double from 51 million in 2017 to 95 million by 2060, according to the US Census Bureau

With this impending demand, we must work together to create a world that is designed to support quality of life for the millions of individuals who are currently seniors and those who will be entering this phase of their life in the not-so-distant future.

Long-term care need & affordability

As we move forward, we must not leave vulnerable patients, namely those who still require and benefit from facility-based care settings, behind. While it’s important to acknowledge innovation beyond in-facility care – home care, care delivery, technology that helps people live independently and longer – we must also acknowledge the aging population’s care needs over the next few decades.

According to data from NORC at the University of Chicago, the population of middle-class seniors in America will increase by 89% to 16 million by 2033. Most will have chronic conditions and mobility difficulties, and nearly 75% won’t be able to afford assisted living without first selling their homes. 

Seniors with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid are caught in a difficult decision: either pay out of pocket for extended care or reduce their net worth to qualify for safety net programs.

Working in coalition: The network effect

For long-term care in particular, we continue to push for critical infrastructure investments into technology that can help reduce administrative tasks while also improving workflows, privacy, and communication between care settings. Only through true collaboration will we achieve the investments and adoption incentives required to help sustain critical system-wide needs across the entire healthcare ecosystem.

We are proud to advocate for the skilled nursing community and represent its best interests alongside passionate customers and association partners, including Argentum, ACHA/NCAL, ASHA, Advion, Argentim, and LeadingAge, in addition to the individuals at CMS, ONC, congressional offices, and industry stakeholders. Through these relationships, we have improved patient outcomes and system productivity in tandem with education around the power of integrated care coordination. 

But there is more to do. 

Together, we can build upon the network effect of these agencies, organizations, institutions and private companies to promote the impact of transformative technology on patient safety, care delivery, the management of chronic conditions, and the efficiency of healthcare professionals. As a result, we can have measurable impact on the lives of patients. We are particularly grateful for the time and effort by our government partners to focus on these critical issues and help build policy solutions that can have a lasting impact. 

As we continue our advocacy work on behalf of the long-term post-acute care sector, we’ve come to observe several core guidelines that have helped us be successful. When taken together, we believe they can help lead to sector improvements and help other areas of healthcare challenged by the same realities and future, for example:

  • Identify and align on common goals while comprehending each group’s individual interests – mapping both into programming
  • Develop one-to-one relationships with each coalition member 
  • Compromise and communication are key: practice early and frequent communication/conflict resolution on difficult, controversial issues and positions
  • Enlist members’ active support, especially when grassroots is a necessity, because active participation is a must

The convergence of this network effect with technology, training, incentives and implementation falls upon the care “supply chain” of these actors and stakeholders working in concert with one another. Together, they can, and must, provide continued care for our most vulnerable patient populations. While no singular framework may be the right approach for tackling all of healthcare’s challenges, following these principles for engaging this community of active participants in addressing shared concerns about the state of our care delivery system will best prepare everyone for what lies ahead.

No other sector has driven quality care outcomes more cost-effectively than senior care. Simply put: We need to double down on investing in what is proven so providers can continue to do more with greater care connectivity and collaboration technology. Smart investments that enable partnerships across the care network – business, government, nonprofit – will prop up the sector and support new models that reward quality of care. 

Solving the challenges of care quality for an aging population while making it affordable and maximizing public-private investment will take continued compromise, perhaps in ways we haven’t yet imagined. The continued effectiveness of our coalition approach rests on our ability to continue prioritizing the patient, an endeavor that goes beyond a single institution or organization. 

Travis Palmquist is the Senior Vice President & General Manager of  Senior Care at PointClickCare. Travis leads the LTPAC market business strategy, delivering on bookings, revenue conversion, vision alignment, and segment expansion. 

Bill Charnetski is the Executive Vice President of Health System Solutions & Government Affairs at PointClickCare. Bill drives the health‐tech ecosystem’s expansion while improving patient outcomes and system productivity. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.