We are keeping seniors healthy and lowering costs!

By Steve Moran

At the NIC spring conference, David Grabowski, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and Kevin O’Neil, the Chief Medical Officer for Brookdale, did a presentation titled “Opportunities and Challenges for Assisted Living in the New Integrated Health Care Delivery Model.”

The high level on this presentation is simple: We are in, maybe, the first quarter of the game when it comes to reimagining our healthcare system and Assisted Living has a huge opportunity to play in in this arena.   

The single most powerful, most important thing David presented was this slide:


Unpacking the Slide

What they did was look at a bunch of data on senior who lived in the community, in residential care facilities (assisted living) and in nursing homes. They had three population groups that they looked at and for each of the three. They normalized the groups by age and health conditions. Here is what the data tells us:

  • About 27% of elders living in the community (their own home or with family members) were hospitalized over the course of the year.

  • About 17% of those living in assisted living had to be hospitalized at least once.

  • About 22% of those living in skilled nursing had one hospitalization.

  • In the study year about 7% of those living at home spent at least some time in a nursing home.

  • About 4% of assisted living residents spent at least some time in a nursing home.

  • About 18% of the total group spent some time in nursing homes.

Clear Data

This is such important data because, based on this study, it means that what we are saying we do in assisted living is really happening. We are keeping seniors healthy and lowering costs. We are keeping them out of both nursing homes and hospitals.   

Telling The Story — Data, Data, Data

We should be out telling this story to anyone who will listen: senior centers, politicians, service clubs and church groups. This data should be on the desk of every hospital administrator and every skilled nursing administrator within your market area. We should not only be talking about industry statistics, which is a great start but every company and every community needs to have their own statistics.  

This study is now more than 5 years old and it is clear things have changed . . . to a degree, but at that time not a single assisted living community was collecting this data. It should be a part of every single communities systems. It should even be done or maybe especially done by those communities operating under a mostly social model.

Do you know your hospital and skilled nursing rates?