Not since the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), can I recall such evolution in the post-acute health care arena. As we begin 2013, health care reform is at the forefront for every provider at every level of care. As the saying goes, the only constant is change; and change in health care is happening! With 17 billion Medicare dollars being spent annually on hospital re-admissions, Accountable Care Organizations, Shared Savings Programs and Preferred Provider Networks are seeking ways to improve quality of care while reducing hospital re-admissions.

CCRCs may be the best kept secret in this effort. We are well known for expertise in independent living and lifestyle; now is the time for CCRCs to take their seat at the table as an expert provider of senior health care. We provide post-acute health care across a large majority of the health care spectrum; from skilled nursing and rehabilitative services, to home health and home care, we excel at supporting the needs of seniors beyond independent living and across the continuum of care.

Some things to consider as we begin 2013 and continue the journey toward quality care for seniors:

Physician Relationships — Evaluate existing and future relationship development with primary care physicians and specialists who serve the residents in your community. Strive to ensure they are aligned with your organization’s goals and initiatives in becoming a partner with the acute-care providers in your market.

Program Development — Consider your wellness programs and initiatives. Keeping your residents engaged and healthy through regular wellness programs, education and support sets your CCRC apart from other senior living settings. Consider as well initiatives to support residents between levels of care within your community. A Care Transition program that clinically follows your resident from the hospital, back to your community and through each level of care can help identify and resolve problems early, reducing the chance of a return to the hospital and increasing your value as a provider within the continuum of care.

Relationships with Acute-Care Partners — Remain engaged with your acute-care providers and dialogue with them about the resource your community can be in their efforts. Partner with them to develop educational opportunities for clinicians; both yours and theirs.

So, as we change with the tides of 2013, I encourage you to raise the flag of awareness of the value you bring, not only to your residents and their families, but to your health care community. Don’t be left without a seat at the table!

— Sharon Hutson, Senior Manager, Marketing Services