Interview with Jennifer Hall: Assisted Living and Healthcare Reform
AUGUST 29, 2012:
Brian Bierbaum, Vice President of Strategy and Growth
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Hall, director of marketing at Aegis Living. We discussed the challenges facing the assisted living industry and how they are affected by healthcare reform. Here are five takeaways from our discussion:
One of our biggest challenges in the assisted living industry is educating families about their senior housing options before they need us. Senior housing is not a service that people think about until that need comes along. Many people either have a negative perception about what assisted living is, or no idea at all that it exists. It's usually an unfortunate episode, like a fall that forces them to start researching their options.
Many times it's the adult child making the decision for a family member, but their loved one has to be included. In the end, the 55-year-old child may be doing the research, but their parent is going to be involved in the final say. We try to help families by building trusting relationships 1 on 1. This may start with a phone call or an in person visit to the community. The sooner we can get the necessary information to the decision-maker, the better off everyone will be.
In relation to healthcare reform, a big focus right now is the readmission issue for hospitals. They need to limit their readmissions by having a trusted partner who can care for patients appropriately once they have been released from the hospital. Families receive referrals for housing/care options from medical professionals who they trust and respect. Yet, those medical professionals may not know how we differ from skilled nursing facilities, what services we offer or the high level of care we manage. These are the people with whom we need to better educate and develop relationships.
Healthcare reform may not immediately change the way we do business, but it gives us an opportunity to have conversations and look at how we can do what we do better. It's still going to be about relationships with people who can be referral partners, and how we can better educate them. We want to be ahead of the game and not be surprised by the changes that are coming. We're thinking about how we can improve tracking of care and services. We’re having conversations internally and externally about how we can collaborate with one another to be more successful.
Everyone has to generate their own unique way of doing business but we encourage sharing instead of reinventing the wheel every time. We need to sell how we're different but at the same time we're all caring for people who need our help and services. Families and professionals need to first understand what options are available and then differentiate which option is best for them.
How has healthcare reform affected your assisted living or other healthcare facility? Please share with our readers below.