what makes innovation challenging

What Makes Innovation Challenging in the Aging Services Industry?

This week we are proud to highlight Nexus Fellow and industry expert, Jay Newton-Small.

In this Nexus video clip, she describes the unique challenges of the aging services industry and why it’s so difficult and complicated to innovate and make a meaningful impact.

“It’s such an inefficient industry and it’s so highly regulated. It’s a very intractable system that requires patience in innovating and ingenuity in innovating that other industries don’t require.”

Challenges for startups coming into the aging services space include selling into healthcare organizations that are under intense pressure due to rampant staffing shortages that have left them in a sustained state of crisis and placed a huge financial burden on them to maintain operations and meet basic regulations. The environment has been one of extreme stress, with little bandwidth or budget to invest in innovation or quality initiatives.

Information security protocols and other legal standards required to access patient data, while critical for protecting patient privacy, are also hard for small companies to meet on limited runways. And current fee-for-service payment models leave little room for innovation in holistic, person-centered care innovations.

“From the get-go, this is regulated in a really intense way, and there’s no way around that. So you have to think through, what is a way that we can innovate here that we can be able to have an impact, but also not harm people, which is a super important thing about health care. And also how can you find a way to make a profit and make your company viable. It’s one of the most challenging areas to innovate in.”

Newton-Small is the CEO of PlanAllies and the CEO and founder of MemoryWell, a tech-enabled patient engagement platform and SaaS that uses Natural Language Processing and “conversational interactions” proven to engage seniors and help Medicare Advantage plans lower churn. Unlike chatbots, MemoryWell uses journalists—or can train callers to interview like journalists using their proprietary software— to create real, effective dialogue with older Americans.

 

As a national journalist, Jay Newton-Small brings a unique perspective to the field of aging, insight into politics and policy, and a media platform. She also brings the heart of a personal-lived experience that led her to found her company, MemoryWell.

 

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Caroline Pearson Executive Director The Peterson Center on Healthcare

Caroline Pearson Named as Executive Director for Peterson Center on Healthcare

Exciting news for Nexus Fellow Caroline Pearson. She has been named as the new Executive Director for The Peterson Center on Healthcare.

“Caroline is a gifted leader who never hesitates to roll up her sleeves and do the hard work,” said Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory, and a Nexus Fellow. “It’s been a joy to work with her in various ways throughout her career, and especially as she’s tackled policy challenges in the senior care sector. I know she’ll continue to make significant contributions in this next chapter.”

“Caroline is the perfect choice to lead the Peterson Center,” said Nexus Fellow David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “She has worked for over two decades to improve the US healthcare system by taking on challenging policy issues. She led our important research on the “forgotten middle” of older adults who are too wealthy for Medicaid but too poor to afford the current mix of senior housing options. I can’t wait to see what she does at the Peterson Center.”

Pearson, who started the new position in early January, is leading the Center’s portfolio of initiatives and grants, to help “transform U.S. healthcare into a high-performance system by finding innovative solutions that improve quality and lower costs,” according to an announcement from the Center. She brings deep policy expertise across a wide range of critical areas, including Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance, prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act, and aging issues.

“I am deeply honored to join the remarkable team at the Peterson Center on Healthcare to advance its mission to improve healthcare through lower costs and higher quality outcomes,” said Pearson.

Pearson previously was the Senior Vice President for Healthcare Strategy at NORC at the University of Chicago, a research organization that has broken new ground into the unmet needs of the “forgotten middle” when it comes to affording senior housing. Before NORC, she spent 14 years at Avalere Health as the Senior V.P. of Policy and Strategy, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies, patient groups and other healthcare stakeholders to solve complex business and policy challenges.

“I am so proud of the Health Care Strategy team we have built at NORC at the University of Chicago and the important research that they will continue on issues of policy, aging, and care delivery,” she said.
“We are very pleased to welcome Caroline, whose strategic vision and data-driven approach will bolster the Center’s work to lower costs and improve outcomes in U.S. healthcare,” said Michael A. Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “Caroline’s comprehensive understanding of the complex healthcare delivery ecosystem and her track record of identifying, validating and scaling innovative solutions make her a perfect match for the Center’s mission.”

Read the full announcement at Peterson Center on Healthcare

 

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Long-Term Care Solutions

Navigating the Maze of Long-Term & Post-Acute Care: A Report by Nexus Insights

When an older adult experiences a crisis that requires post-acute or long-term care services and supports, they and their caregivers must make critical decisions, fast. What awaits them, however, is a maze of dead ends and poor information that stand in the way of getting the help they need.

“Older adults and their families enter a maze of twists and turns, dead ends, and wrong way streets when a life crisis forces them to consider their care options. Critical decisions about long-term care must be made quickly, with scarce information or resources, let alone supportive guidance to assist them in their time of crisis.” – Bob Kramer, founder of Nexus Insights

In February 2022, Nexus Insights hosted their inaugural ‘Nexus Voices’ session with 18 leading experts in the fields of aging policy, long-term care, senior housing and caregiver advocacy to talk through and tackle this issue.

The Outcome: A Nexus Voices Report

The result is the recently published report, “Where Am I, Where Do I Go: The Missing Entry Point to Long-Term Care Solutions for Older Adults and Their Caregivers”. This comprehensive and actionable report highlights the lack of infrastructure to help guide older adults and their families to long-term care services. The report proposes “Navigation Hubs” to help families understand their long-term care needs and select the best options for them. These hubs would serve as central doorways to existing supports and services—whether it’s home-based care, transportation or meal services, senior housing or nursing home care. The hubs would have a national presence but a hyper localized focus with counselors, or navigators, who understand the resources available in their communities and how to help older adults and their families access them.

“The factors that shape care decisions vary from family to family, but all families need an easy-to-use, accessible hub of information that clearly communicates the options that are available to them in their community,” said Anne Tumlinson, CEO of ATI Advisory and a contributor to the report. “With a growing number of older adults needing care, we have to act now to build the care infrastructure families need.”

Discussion participants outlined four primary responsibilities of the Navigation Hubs. They are:

  • Discover & Assess the long-term care needs of older adults, their families, and caregivers.
  • Educate older adults, their families and caregivers on the housing and caregiving support available to them as well as funding sources.
  • Select & Connect older adults with the best long-term care setting, supports, and services that meet their needs.
  • Reevaluate the needs of older adults as their health and financial statuses change.

“You can’t solve a problem until you’ve identified it and defined it,” said Kramer.

“Then you’ve got to define what are the key components of any solution. And we’ve laid that out with the navigation hubs and their four functions. And then we asked what we could learn from the failures and the successes of programs to date, to create our criteria. Finally, the path forward must be a joint effort involving both the public and private sectors. We demonstrated that there are aspects of differing programs from government-funded resource centers to tech-enabled employer options to private-pay models that could be incorporated into this solution.”

An Urgent Problem

In its conclusions, the report urges quick and decisive action to build navigation services for older adults that put families in the center. The family in crisis needs help now and cannot wait for lawmakers and government agencies to overhaul the long-term care infrastructure. This requires a national commitment to increased funding and an openness to reimagine existing solutions. Existing public, private-pay and employer-based programs could work together to make these hubs a reality by combining their infrastructure, experience and delivery models.

The Nexus Voices Participants

Nexus Insights Host Committee

  • David Grabowski, PhD, professor, Harvard Medical School, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Bob Kramer, founder & fellow, Nexus Insights, co-founder, former CEO & strategic advisor, National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC)
  • Caroline Pearson, senior vice president, health care strategy, NORC at the University of Chicago, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Sarah Thomas, CEO, Delight by Design/MezTal, fellow, Nexus Insights
  • Anne Tumlinson, CEO, ATI Advisory, fellow, Nexus Insights

Discussion Participants

  • Gretchen E. Alkema, PhD, former vice president, policy and communications, The SCAN Foundation
  • Alice Bonner, PhD, senior advisor for aging, IHI, and adjunct faculty, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
  • Ryan Frederick, founder & CEO, Smart Living 360, fellow, Nexus Insights (facilitator)
  • Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO, Wellthy
  • Ruth Katz, senior vice president for policy, LeadingAge
  • Sean Kelly, president & CEO, The Kendal Corporation
  • Suzanne Kunkel, PhD, executive director, Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University
  • Katy Lanz, chief strategy officer, Personal Care Medical Associates
  • Brian Petranick, group president, Neighborly
  • Cheryl L. Phillips, M.D., president and CEO, Special Needs Plan Alliance
  • Paul Saucier, director, Office of Aging & Disability Services, Maine Department of Health and Human Services
  • John Schall, CEO, Caregiver Action Network
  • Bill Thomas, chief independence officer, Lifespark, fellow, Nexus Insights

Read the Long-Term Care Access Report

Read the full report
Read the executive summary
Read the press release

About Nexus Insights

Nexus Insights is a think tank advancing the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing, community and healthcare. We are a diverse group of thought leaders and stakeholders in aging and healthcare. Our goal is to spark change by sharing innovation across traditional silos, convening leaders from differing perspectives and bringing positive, life-affirming ideas into the public domain.

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Nursing Home Staff Vaccination and Covid-19 Outcomes

The emergence of the delta variant of the covid-19 virus has raised new concerns about nursing home staff as a vector of infection among residents. This is especially true in facilities with low staff vaccination rates, but the actual relationship between staff vaccination rates and resident infection is not well studied. That is why a group of researchers used CMS data on more than 12,000 nursing homes to get some answers. That group of researchers included David Grabowski, Nexus Fellow and professor of public health at Harvard Medical School.

What they found is that in locations with high community transmission of the virus, low staff vaccination rates were associated with a 132% increase in resident cases, a 58% increase in staff cases, and a 195% increase in resident deaths. The relationships were not as strong in areas with low community transmission.

These findings were published in a letter to the editor in the December 2021 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

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Update on Nexus Fellow May 21s

Nexus Fellow Flash Bulletin: May 2021

As the United States shifts gears from pandemic crisis management to a new post-COVID normal, we must now deal with the aftermath and identify what went wrong and what we can do better. Issues of transparency and loneliness in nursing homes linger. Large corporations that once were oblivious to the older population have found a new market. How will we address the age-old problem of social connection for those who are still isolated, a problem seniors have faced for decades? The entire industry, the way we view older adults, the options for living independently and the implementation of technology, must all be urgently addressed and thoughtfully designed into an actionable plan for the future of aging and longevity.

Our Fellows continue to strive for innovation and reform. Here’s what they’ve been up to:

NEWS:

  • Nexus Fellow David Grabowski, was quoted in an article by the Associated Press on nursing homes’ requirement to report COVID-19 vaccinations at nursing homes. “This is an important development that is months overdue,” said David Grabowski, a Harvard health policy professor who has tracked the industry’s struggles with the outbreak. “Many of us argued that this information should have been published starting in December when the federal long-term care vaccination effort began.”

 

  • Dr. Bill Thomas, Nexus Fellow and creator of The Eden Alternative, Minka, and the Green House Project, is helping value-based care innovator Lifespark (which acquired Tealwood Senior Living.) Dr. Thomas will be leading the efforts to combine the two companies’ operations. He has also created Kallimos Communities, new multi-generational communities with small dwellings clustered around shared green space. Additionally, he has a new project he’s working on with Signature Healthcare — currently called “Canopy” — a cluster of small ADA-accessible houses built close together.

 

  • Bob Kramer, Founder and Fellow of Nexus Insights, was interviewed by Nancy Griffin for SeniorTrade Blog. He defines 5 Boomerville Segments likely to flourish in the future: Wellnessville, where residents will focus on healthy lifestyle, diet and exercise; Margaritaville, resort-style independent living (Minto Communities’ Latitude Margaritaville has three wait-listed locations with more in development); Serviceville, where the emphasis is on volunteerism, mentorship and giving back; Collegeville, where residents focus on continued learning in a communal living environment, and Changeville, for those concerned with making a difference in the world and creating a legacy.

 

  • Preordering is now available for “Right Place, Right Time, a book by Nexus Fellow and CEO of SmartLiving 360, Ryan Frederick. “Place plays a significant yet often unacknowledged role in health and happiness. The right place elevates personal well-being. It can help promote purpose, facilitate human connection, catalyze physical activity, support financial health, and inspire community engagement.”

 

  • Nexus Fellow Kelsey Mellard, CEO of Sitka, sat down with Sanjula Jain Jo on Her Story for a candid conversation about being a healthcare leader and her transition from the Midwest to DC to Silicon Valley, building a resilient team, and overcoming challenges.

 

  • Will seniors continue to buy groceries online post-pandemic? Jody Holtzman, longevity economy expert, formerly of AARP, thinks seniors will split their shopping, using online for staples such as canned goods and going into stores for fresh foods. Some senior consumers claim it’s a social outlet for them. “As the necessity imposed by the pandemic lessens,” Holtzman says, “retailers will have to start to play the price game.” Read more at Blomberg.com.

 

Out and About:

  • Jill Vitale-Aussem, president and CEO of Christian Living Communities, and Nexus Insights Fellow, recently spoke at a session, “Finding success in increasing diversity and inclusion,” at the 2021 Women of Distinction educational webinar. We’d also like to congratulate Jill on joining the SeniorTrade Advisory Board.

Jill Vitale-Aussem joins SeniorTrade Advisory Board

  • On June 30, Nexus Fellow Sara Zeff Geber will be joining experts and thought leaders in the areas of aging, retirement and thriving for the “Boomers Thriving After the Pandemic” virtual summit, hosted by Wendy Green from Hey, Boomer. Other speakers include Helen Dennis and John Tarnoff. Part of the proceeds will go to Meals on Wheels Greenville and The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. For more info visit the virtual summit’s Eventbrite page.

Sara Zeff Geber on Hey Boomer

  • Sarah Thomas, CEO of Delight by Design and Nexus Fellow, recently presented at the Rehab Tech Summit sponsored by AARP Innovations Labs. She spoke about designing for all, including age tech, universal design, living with purpose and designing beautiful products for everyone at every age.

 

COMPANIES ON THE MOVE:

  • Jay Newton-Small, CEO of MemoryWell, is growing MemoryWell. After a successful capital raise, she’s been adding some amazing new talent to her team including Sarah Jones from Healthsense, GreatCall and Best Buy Health.

 

  • Jacquelyn Kung, CEO of Senior Care Group at Activated Insights, is working with her team to create recognition programs for senior care providers, based on their resident and family surveys. The goal is to tie the data to outcomes and impact metrics, and to use machine learning to identify patterns in those who improve to apply across a broader population of providers.

 

NEW RESEARCH:

 

 

VIDEO DISCUSSIONS:

 

 

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