InterFace Seniors Housing Keynote: ‘We Need to Change Our Mindset, Come Together’

Lynne Katzmann has a simple mandate for the seniors housing industry: we must cooperate between companies in order to improve overall performance. This goes for all stakeholders in the industry, including the technology providers and related healthcare services.

“We need to collaborate, work together, accept [the idea] that the way we did things before no longer works in our changing world,” said Katzmann, president and CEO of owner-operator Juniper Communities.

“We need to innovate by piecing together a new picture of seniors housing, one that includes the services our residents need to live a good life. We have what we need at hand, no miracles needed. We need to change our mindset and come together.”

The comments were made Wednesday, June 7 at the InterFace Seniors Housing Midwest conference in Chicago, which was attended by more than 300 seniors housing industry professionals.

Katzmann is an entrepreneur, having founded New Jersey-based Juniper and overseen its rise to 18 communities across the continuum of care. She’s also a thought leader in seniors housing.

Katzmann compared the lack of cooperation among industry players to divorce, citing companies that are “not always sure how to build successful partnerships” and “reluctant to change.” These problems are at the root of some of the industry’s struggles, she explained.Katmann Cropped

There are three “epic challenges” that will require the industry to collaborate to find solutions, and refusal to change is not an option, said Katzmann. Those three challenges will be: use of technology to direct and provide services, the demographic wave of Baby Boomers beginning to need seniors housing services, and shifting social policies such as the Affordable Care Act.

“To me, the ACA is the policy that has created the most fundamental change in the way we in the healthcare industry do what we do,” says Katzmann. “The financial incentives created by hospital readmission penalties changed the operating paradigm from one based on volume to one based on value.”

This sea change has forced healthcare companies to become more directly reliant on each other — hospitals want to send patients into seniors housing that doesn’t bounce them back, meaning good care at both places is mutually beneficial. “No more separation; toss that thought of divorce out the window,” said Katzmann.

Solving the healthcare puzzle will require the entire healthcare industry’s cooperation, as many of the solutions are preventative, continued Katzmann. Seniors housing providers need clear lines of communication with primary care providers, pharmacies, laboratories, home care and hospice providers. Health needs to be managed earlier in life through proper nutrition to delay or even completely prevent chronic conditions that drive up healthcare needs.

At Juniper, Katzmann uses a program called “Connect4Life,” which attempts to achieve these goals across the company’s portfolio. Researchers were brought in to investigate the program’s effectiveness and found lower costs, higher length of stay and higher occupancy.

“We are doing a formal analysis to determine possible savings from this integrated model (nationally). I have preliminary results, which are blowing me away: We are showing savings of more than $10 billion annually.”

Because of these potential savings, it’s imperative that seniors housing companies continue to “marry” rather than “divorce” from each other, added Katzmann.

“We need to acknowledge that our world has changed and will continue to change, and that to stay relevant we must work together. Our residents are better off, our companies have stronger cash flow, and our industry can be a positive contributor to the wellbeing of our nation.”

—  Jeff Shaw