Value based care is a train rumbling down the track—straight for the senior living space. Under the added regulatory pressures now being formulated, senior living operators and their staff will need to be more vigilant than ever before to prevent falls that can send residents to the hospital.
Some of the reasons for added concern are new, including higher standards for care that will be established by accountable care organizations (ACOs). These organizations have been launched by the federal government to unite providers along the entire continuum of care. Very shortly, if a senior living space wants to succeed in its market, it will have to at least consider joining an ACO.
How an ACO works
In an ACO, various care providers across the entire healthcare continuum (from pre-acute to senior care providers) operate as one organization and strive together to meet strict criteria for value based care. From the senior care perspective, this involves improving the care experience for residents, while contributing to population health and lowering healthcare costs. If one part of the continuum of care fails to meet the new standards, the entire group of organizations belonging to the ACO will lose out on incentives, paid from the savings the ACO accrues.
Since senior living communities will be responsible for caring for frail seniors, the burden of hospital admits and re-admits for falls will be theirs to prevent. This responsibility must be achieved under more pressure than ever before.
Under ACO participation, senior housing executives will need to direct more staff to the many needs of an increased post-acute care population because hospitals participating in the ACO will refer their post-acute care patients to the ACO’s preferred senior living provider offering skilled nursing, post-acute care. As such, the percentage of residents requiring post-acute care will be much higher at a senior living space participating in an ACO. Staff may be stretched to provide more intensive care for more residents who may be in senior care for a shorter duration, and thus will need help.
How fall monitoring technology can help an ACO and provide value based care
Short of bringing on additional and costly staff, that help can best be provided by “smart” fall monitoring technology powered by artificial intelligence. This technology, which allows organizations that use it to better identify which residents may be at higher fall risk, allows not only a quicker and more accurate response to falls, but can actually help to proactively identify and reduce resident fall risk before an event occurs.
Because “smart” fall monitoring actually has the ability to reduce or altogether prevent resident falls, the technology can greatly impact the success of a senior living organization’s participation in an ACO. An ACO is only as strong as its weakest link: If the senior living organization fails to meet standards for care, including fall prevention, the ACO will drop the senior living organization from among its ranks. Other senior living spaces will be lined up to take the place of the organization that did not meet criteria.
It goes without saying that every senior living organization wants to prevent as many falls among its residents as possible. If asked, a senior living operator would say he doesn’t want a single fall to take place at his senior community. And now, it will be more important than ever before, not only because of ACO participation, but because value based care is rated and reimbursed, in part, by resident satisfaction. Falls are not conducive to rendering a positive evaluation of a senior living organization. And once again, a senior living organization could jeopardize its ACO participation, this time, with poor resident evaluations.
Preventing falls is a key aspect of value based care that cannot be left in the hands of the residents, or even in the hands of nurse call buttons, especially when smart risk monitoring technology is available to decrease the likelihood of falls. Value based care is about improving quality care and quality of life – and fall monitoring technology can be a key tool to helping residents live their best lives.