Doing Good Differently

Even though I am now on the beach, I think about things as if I still am CEO of a health system.  It is easy to do that when you don’t have all the day-to-day responsibilities of an actual CEO.

Where do you take an organization which has developed a nice array of both inpatient and outpatient services and has been able to integrate a health plan into the mix?

There are many directions a healthcare  organization can go to fill unmet needs.  At this point in my life I see many opportunities to offer services to aging baby boomers and members of even older generations.  I have seen the need in my own family with older relatives.

Here is a brief look at some ideas worthy of exploration as health systems look to expand their services for the fast growing older sector of the population:

Medical Fitness Centers:  These are fitness centers open to all ages and fitness levels with a twist. There is a more medical orientation with highly trained staff helping to develop fitness regimes which take into account the special needs of members with chronic conditions.

NorthBay Healthcare opened a 55,000 square foot medical fitness center in 2016.  It’s where I spend the first part of every beach day.  Whether you are fit already, want to get fit or need to maintain your fitness level post-rehabilitation from an illness, medical fitness centers are a natural fit for those who look to a particular health care system for care. Medical fitness centers also help to build your brand and provide “stickiness” with existing patients.

Glenner Town Square:  Some years ago I was in Amsterdam and heard about a memory care residential facility which recreated a small Dutch town in the 1950s.  Using what was called “reminiscence therapy”, this facility had a positive effect on dementia patients who live there. A stroll down memory lane makes a difference.

This concept was adapted in the United States by the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers (www.glenner.org). The primary difference is that these centers provide day care rather than residential care and the “Glenner Town Squares” are 9000 square foot replicas of 1960s America contained within an existing building.

Continuing Care Communities:  This is for those organizations which think big and have the resources to back up their big thinking!  Continuing care communities (CCC) are not a new concept.  Demographics are making the need for such communities grow.  I have a friend who is in her early 80s and has just recently moved from her large home into a CCC.

CCCs come in a variety of configurations and can be for-profit or non-profit in organizational structure.  CCCs which offer independent living, assisted living and memory care to my mind are the most comprehensive and attractive.  I tend to think of them as Club Meds for the older set.

You don’t see very often local healthcare systems offering CCCs as part of their care continuum.  That’s a shame because they are a natural fit.

There are other possibilities as well along the continuum of care. What you do depends upon the definition of healthcare which your organization has adopted. If your mission is some variation of ” fix the sick”(and there is nothing wrong with that), then staying on the acute care part of the continuum is where your organization may be best suited.

If your organization wants to help people be healthy, then there is a broader palette of healthcare possibilities available. With longer lifespans, I think most healthcare organizations need to expand their care continuum to take advantage of other possibilities.

It is very sexy currently in health care to look for the “disrupters” in healthcare–often a nerd who thinks using an iPad in patient care is the height of innovation.  Down at the actual service level, there are great unmet needs which could be met and in the process bind people to a healthcare system in a positive and long-lasting way.

I am a baby boomer and there are still millions of us yet to hit the beach.  We are all going to need  more options on the beach.  If those of us who are in health care are truly committed to the idea of care continuity, there exists great opportunity for health care organizations to do well by doing good in meeting these needs.

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