Table talk: You have to listen to the right people

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

When we at McKnight's host a special roundtable discussion, I 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 we recently hosted a roundtable for LTC executives, who pierced through accountable care organizations and future care models. (See pages 26-28 for full coverage.)

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., president and CEO of Golden Living, the large nursing home chain. 

“It's an opportunity, too,” he told the assembly of strategy, operations and information officers. “When we've offered transitional care, patients respond. They crave continuity of care.”

Continuity. It's a comfort and it matters to the consumer. On the other hand, sometimes the term might appear lost on providers, who can see a continuum simply 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 more complete physician coverage across all sites, from hospital to home. Transitional care models are being driven by specialists — who might be nurse practitioners, but not always: Social workers, pharmacists and nurses all play a part. “We have to be very flexible,” Altman said.

Kurtz, too, observed that because no one really knows what the prevailing long-term care service model will ultimately 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.

As fellow roundtabler Patricia Butler, vice president of 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.


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