Does Senior Housing Need the Same Healthcare Data Solutions as Acute Care?

The American healthcare landscape is changing fast, and healthcare data solutions are rapidly becoming both an opportunity and a necessity for the senior living space.

The opportunity comes by way of accountable care organizations (ACOs), in which senior living spaces will play an important role. ACOs will require senior living providers to carry the weight of preventing readmission, and for that, senior living executives will have to get on board with electronic health records (EHRs) and the collection of data.

According to an article published in the Journal on Active Aging, “Senior living providers who master complete solutions for reducing avoidable hospital readmissions have a golden opportunity to showcase the wellness expertise of senior living, and leverage valuable strategic alliances in today’s business environment.”

This means that senior living executives who want to participate in ACOs will need to position their organizations to track healthcare outcomes, provide healthcare needed to meet metrics demanded by ACOs, “and essentially `double down` on prevention, wellness and the social model of care,” the article says.

The new name for this type of care is value based care.

Under ACO participation, or value based care, senior living spaces can expect to see the number of their high-acuity residents increase. These residents will be referred to them by their ACO partner hospitals. In addition, all senior living spaces—even those that choose not to participate in an ACO– will be dealing with demographic changes. Because of improved healthcare, the senior living demographic, including the assisted living resident demographic is increasingly including a higher number of older patients, and senior living providers are shifting care models with a clinical focus to meet those emerging needs.

According to the most recent federal National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, the majority of assisted living residents are female, 85 or older, who need help with at least one activity of daily living (ADL) per day. Nearly 40 percent of these older females need help with three or more ADLs.

“Back in the day, we used to say our industry was hospitality with healthcare. I would say we’re becoming healthcare with hospitality,” says Gina D’Angelo, chair of ALFA’s Clinical Quality Executive Roundtable in an article on ALFA’s website.

And so the answer to the question is, “yes.” Senior housing does need the same healthcare data solutions as acute care. The most obvious reason being, the two types of care need to exchange this data to improve healthcare outcomes in their ACO. In addition, senior housing needs to enter the mainstream of the healthcare overhaul taking place in America, launched by the Affordable Care Act. Everything about today’s value based care rests on healthcare data to accomplish ACA’s triple aim of improved patient satisfaction, better patient health and better population health.

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