Assisted Living Overview
The Assisted Living healthcare sector is highly specialized and requires its own market access strategy for healthcare product and healthcare service companies to successfully engage its key customer accounts, payers, group purchasing organizations, wholesalers, distributors, medical suppliers and other supply chain and procurement stakeholders. Assisted Living facilities are a healthcare market segment coming under significantly more regulation, reduced reimbursement and competitive challenges.
About 70% of persons over the age of 65 will require some sort of care provided by assisted living and/or long term care. The average age of patients is 80 years of age, about 70 percent of them are female. There is a lesser number of professional medical staff on premises than nursing facilities (long term care or " LTC " ), skilled nursing facilities or " SNF " ); patients in assisted living facilities require less advanced healthcare support. While they are less regulated than LTC or SNF facilities, assisted living is coming under greater scrutiny for care and cost standards by municipal, state and federal agencies. Most of the reimbursement is through self-pay or through an insurance plan which covers assisted living, payment through Medicaid sources is low but growing. Many of the larger assisted living companies also operate long term acute care hospitals (LTACs), nursing centers and rehabilitative centers. Costs vary state by state but on average, the annual cost of assisted living services rises approximately 4.26%. As Medicaid reimbursement is reduced, it puts more pressure on assisted living providers to recoup costs and turn a profit.
Assisted living is evolving; facilities are adapting to meet the needs of existing patients / residents for a longer period of time to avoid being transferred to another facility which may be operated by another organization. Some have literally become multi-purpose, multi-population complexes with specialized units for patients with physical, behavioral or other additional needs. These facilities require personnel with added caregiver credentials and also need enhanced IT systems and staff to manage day-to-day record keeping and billing for accurate reimbursement.
Depending on the facility and care it provides, a combination of assisted living transitioning to long term care is offered by some. As these additions of care capabilities are made, facilities are then tasked with aligning to deeper regulatory standards and more complex reimbursement guidelines. The commercial goal is patient retention; rather than a patient leaving an assisted living company's facility and experiencing a subsequent loss in revenue. The organizations retain the patient and whenever possible do so within the same confines of their existing residency proprety but perhaps in a different wing or building. The space vacated by the patient having a change in care needs is assigned to a new incoming patient so income streams are consistent.
Technology In Facilities An Asset As Well As A Competitor
Telehealth is an emerging care and technology segment that is rapidly growing can have a positive impact in the assisted living patient population. It enables patients to be cared for / monitored remotely via mobile technology and other digital means. For fragile, high care patients living within assisted living facilities, clinician staff and the patient's primary care physicians can get ongoing insights as to the condition of the patient via telehealth resources.
For some patients, telehealth ( which may also be referred to as remote patient monitoring ) enables them to be cared for while at home and reduce the need for them to be cared for in an assisted living facility. In this perspective, telehealth is considered a competitive to assisted living providers. As costs and care rise, telehealth is a go-to option supported by at-home visits by nurses as necessary.
Consolidation Within The Assisted Living Sector
Based on increasing costs, reduced reimbursement levels and various competitive challenges, consolidation is underway throughout the assisted living sector. Singular facility and small multi-facility assisted living are being swiftly acquired by larger players; some of the larger players in the market have merged as well which not only boosts total patient count but also provides them with greater access to patients in multiple markets across more states. This is taking place in the commercial sector as well as those facilities operated by non-profit, faith-based organizations in metropolitan, regional and national marketplaces.
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