James M. Berklan

It appears that the nation’s largest association of nursing home operators has decided to buy itself a whole lot of credibility. I mean that only in a good way. 

That’s what you’ll get with the pledge of $1 million for the creation of a new think tank at an Ivy League university. The American Health Care Association is putting its money where its mouth is, forming a new partnership with Brown University. The new Long Term Care Quality and Innovation Center will be a part of the Brown University School of Public Health.The goal is to research and test best practices to improve long-term and post-acute delivery of care, and then spread them widely.

Brown’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research has long produced remarkable studies dealing with the long-term care profession. This $1 million infusion, to be spread over three years, should kick-start a lot more. 

“There are a lot of unknowns out there in assisted living and nursing homes,” AHCA quality guru David Gifford, M.D., acknowledged. “This is really an effort to match up with a respected academic university to do rigorous evaluations, to not only identify and evaluate effective technological practices and innovative approaches, but to disseminate them nationally.”

Gifford, still a clinical associate professor of medicine at Brown, said he hopes technology can be developed and disseminated to help lower medication-error and infection rates. Another of many possibilities is the development of better care practices that would lead to lower hospitalization rates.

A seven-person advisory board will govern the new center, including three people from AHCA, three from Brown, and an at-large member. In anticipation of skeptics — who surely will pop up in one form or another somewhere down the road — Gifford wasted no time cashing in on his new Ivy League partner’s reputation.

“Brown’s an academic university and they would not sign on, nor would any other university, if there was any sort of censorship or limitations with any of the findings or issues,” he explained. 

“We want to be sure that the time and money have an impact on the residents we care for,” he added. “And we want to make sure it’s for something that works.”

There are about a million new reasons why he’s closer than ever to getting his wish.