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NIC Spring Conference Serious Measured Optimism and Opportunity

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By Steve Moran

I am still processing the NIC spring conference that just concluded in San Diego. It was my favorite of all the NICs.  

I have attended NICs where there has been more despair than hope, particularly in the skilled nursing sector.  

I have attended NICs where their was giddy optimism that you could not build too many senior living communities . . . you could not build too many memory care units.

Both points of view seemed and continue to seem too extreme.   

A Level of Maturity

I worry there is more than a little hubris in suggesting NIC is reaching a new level of maturity. I am a relative newcomer to the world of NIC and it has always been a place for the best and the brightest to gather and share. Yet the theme of Unlocking New Value Through Senior Care Collaboration makes my heart soar.

We have this industry that is all about serving seniors and there are amazing reasons to pat ourselves on the back . . . and yet, there are some areas that, if we are honest, need some serious attention. We are still only serving a tiny fraction of seniors.  

The Big Idea

The big idea is that we are an industry that exists to serve seniors. That Senior Housing (though I prefer Senior Living) is really just one facet of an ecosystem that serves seniors. This ecosystem is massive in size and scope. It includes homecare, the whole healthcare system, hospice, home repair services, financial planners, technology providers, payor sources and transportation services. Rather than viewing all of these other parts with suspicion or even as the enemy, we need to be a part of the ecosystem.

Done right we might even be the center of the ecosystem. What perhaps gets missed is that when senior living is done right, IT IS HOME.

The Awesome Reality

The awesome reality is that senior living sits in the enviable position of knowing seniors better than any other segment of the ecosystem. We are in a position to say . . .

  • We can give seniors a higher quality of life.

  • We can help seniors have a higher quality of life even before they move into our communities.

  • Because we live with seniors 24/7, we know what works and what doesn’t to improve their lives.

  • We know their families better than any other segment.

  • We can save the healthcare system . . . the taxpayer, huge amounts of money. (More on this in a subsequent article.)

Practical First Steps

There are some practical first steps you can take to be a significant player in this space:

  • Get educated about population health management.

  • Have conversations with your healthcare providers in the local marketplace. These need to be executive level conversations. Figure out their pain points and how you can help directly or indirectly.  

  • Look at how you can provide primary care physician services in your communities.

  • Think in terms of how you can add value to the system and not just about how to extract dollars from residents.

  • Talk about how you provide VALUE to seniors and the senior elder care ecosystem.

As you make progress, share your stories.

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