In this season, we’ve been subjected to reminiscences of 2014, and predictions about 2015. 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 2015 and beyond.
1. Occupancy will continue to be a struggle. I have written about this 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. Home care demand will be strong. One of the very few sectors of age qualified care that 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”.
4. Care transitions is “hot”. 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 getting actively involved in pilots, projects, and a variety of initiatives. The complexity will be dizzying.
5. 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 trusted by the population in the United States and Western Europe on a par with clergy. Far more than nursing home owners!
What do you see as you gaze into the proverbial crystal ball for 2015? Would love to hear your thoughts!
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Irving Stackpole is President of Stackpole & Associates, marketing, research & training firm. Irving can be reached at 1-617-739-5900, ext. 11, by email at email@example.com, or follow Irving at www.StackpoleAssociates.com