Value based healthcare is more than just the latest buzzword, more than just a trend running through the medical and payer communities. It is a fundamental rethinking of the way in which medical care gets delivered.
As such, it is going to have a major impact on senior independence, one of the most valuable outcomes a senior housing operator can help to provide.
Value based healthcare is a philosophy in which doctors are compensated for quality rather than quantity. Today’s system largely rewards those who see the most patients, order the most tests, run the most evaluations. When the emphasis shifts toward the value of the outcomes, patients thrive. “The result has been striking improvements in outcomes and efficiency,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
To understand how this novel approach will improve seniors’ independence, it helps to delve just a little deeper into the nuances of value based care. With its emphasis on outcomes, value driven healthcare typically will rely heavily on data and provable metrics. It will focus on the delivery of safe and proven means of treatment. It will simultaneously reward those doctors who are able to keep down their costs.
How does this foster senior independence? Consider the chief elements of independence: Mobility, mental acuity, social engagement and fitness.
- Mobility perhaps speaks for itself. One of the great challenges in a senior’s day is to avoid falls, and it is well documented that a senior who is healthier is less likely to take a tumble. When doctors are more effective in managing patients’ medical needs, the capacity for mobility – and hence the enjoyment of independence – greatly increases.
- Mental acuity will likely be high on the agenda of doctors working in the arena of value based care. Lucidity is after all one of the chief measures of wellness in the senior population. Doctors wanting to demonstrate value will want to ensure their patients’ mental needs, as well as their physical needs, are properly attended to — thus ensuring a greater degree of independence.
- Along with acuity comes the push for social engagement. Because isolation has been shown to be highly detrimental to overall well being, seniors’ health metrics typically include some measure of social engagement. Doctors seeking to encourage value will likewise encourage seniors to maintain social connections – a key element in independence. In a system based on measurable outcomes, the presence of social connections is readily provable, and its impact on improved independence a logical consequence.
- Fitness, as with other elements described here, helps to meet the criteria of both independence and value based medicine. In driving toward measurable aspects of quality care, doctors will likely encourage some exercise regimen among their older patients. Housing operators can help with this, installing technologically savvy equipment and making available scheduling technology to ensure seniors perform their daily exercise. Fitness promotes wellness and, ultimately, continues the move toward maximum independence.
Across the boards, senior housing operators can have a role to play in ensuring independence by supporting value based care. They can put in place the technology that encourages social ties; prevent and monitor falls; and install technologically sophisticated exercise and wellness platforms. By supporting practitioners’ value based care initiatives, housing operators can do much to promote seniors’ independence.