In this season, we’ve been subjected to reminiscences of 2015, and predictions about 2016, and here are my predictions about the long term care markets in the US. I will offer a few of my prognostications here, secure in the knowledge that the crystal ball doesn’t talk back. If you agree or disagree with any of these, I certainly hope you will contact me directly with your predictions for 2016 and beyond.
- Occupancy will continue to be a struggle. I have written about the decline in long term care markets extensively, that the current difficulties with occupancy are related to the birth dearth that occurred between 1925 and 1945. This dramatic decline in age qualified individuals will continue to manifest itself in reduced occupancies at all types of age qualified congregate care centers, i.e., independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and others. The exceptions to this will be means-tested centers serving lower income populations, and congregate care centers serving persons with psychological and or behavioral disorders.
- Competition will come from “out of the blue”. No longer will skilled nursing be competing with skilled nursing alone, or even only with assisted living only. Long term care markets will experience new, intense competition between and among home care, assisted living, skilled nursing, independent living – adult children and age qualified consumers themselves have a tough time discriminating between and among the services, so look out for competition from around the corner, and places from which you never had competition before.
- Home care demand will be strong. One of the very few sectors of age qualified care in the long term care markets which will be fairly robust is home care. In fact, we will continue to see more complex cases being cared for with elaborate technology and staffing in the home, or patient’s domicile. This is the result of growing supply in home healthcare (the franchises are doing a good job selling themselves), as well as a cultural preference for “staying at home”. Home care agencies are one of the only healthcare service sectors that can and will benefit from advertising through traditional media channels like television and print.
- Care transitions will get “hotter”. Everybody will get into the act of attempting to make transitions between and among care providers smoother, less fraught for the consumer/patient and her family, and riddled with fewer errors. The initiatives around mitigating hospital readmissions were only the early rumblings of this change. Look for substantial players in the sector, including academic medical centers and insurance providers becoming more actively involved in pilots, projects, and a variety of initiatives. providers in the long term care markets are at risk of being left behind. The complexity will be dizzying. Providers in the long term care markets will have to learn to “push back” or we’ll be pushed around.”
- Pharmacy services will emerge as a key partner. How on earth we have kept pharmacists in the basement this long is an absolute mystery. Polypharmacy, non-adherence, and untoward drug interactions are the leading categorical cause of injuries of seniors’ in the home, (falls, overdosing, etc.) and the best data suggests that almost 50% of avoidable hospital admissions and/or readmissions are due to these pharmacy related untoward outcomes. And pharmacists are as trusted by the general population in the United States on a par with clergy. (Far more than nursing home owners!)
What do you see as you gaze into the proverbial crystal ball for 2016? Would love to hear your thoughts!