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I just returned from 3 days at the eCap conference in Florida; for those who are unfamiliar, eCap is a new conference intended for midsize providers to engage in direct discussions with financial institutions and vendors in the long-term care (LTC) space. This year’s conference, which was a huge success, was sold out.

Besides the amazing hospitality and several pounds I gained, I walked away with several lessons I wanted to share:

  1. This industry is alive and thriving: We all hear the doom and gloom of the long-term care industry – low margins, high regulatory fines, compliance, and low census. BUT this group proved that LTC remains an exciting, growing space. The operators of today are all forward-thinking and excited to grow while providing excellent, quality care. They want to take care and profitability to the next level and understand the need to stay current.
  2. “Know thyself”: This industry is different than it was even a few years ago. More than ever, providers must know their “business.” To succeed, you must stay ahead of the curve and work with financial institutions and vendors who are truly PARTNERS. Be sure the vendors you work with are thought leaders – that they intimately understand the industry, feel your pain, and provide tools and relationships to succeed.
  3. PDPM is here to stay: Anyone in LTC for even a few years knows there’s always the next area of panic. Remember when avian bird flu was top of the list? Or the delay, delay, delay of implementing the IDC 10 codes? As many panelists noted, PDPM is a major change in the industry and not one we can cram for. Providers must take this very seriously and not procrastinate on learning the payment plan – or they’ll be sorry. Be sure the vendors you work with are ahead of the curve, not playing catch up.
  4. Relationships with hospitals and ACOs: In this new LTC landscape, these relationships are more critical than ever. We don’t just have to be in good standing with our partner hospitals – we need to stay a step ahead. For example, a star rating is more critical than ever in maintaining your partnership, but you must know where your organization is in real time; waiting for the hospital to contact you to discuss your star rating is too late. Know the health of your organization and make necessary changes proactively.
  5. It’s all about the data: I know, I know, this is a blog for a business intelligence/data company, BUT PAY ATTENTION: data is where it’s at. I don’t think there was a single panel presentation or discussion with a financial institution/operator that didn’t involve the critical need to understand the data in your This includes more than just financials – you must also understand your clinical, QM, payroll, etc. Lenders want to be confident you understand your operation and can objectively discuss your strengths and weaknesses. I questioned several financial lenders about what they want from their clients, and it goes back to where we started: “know thyself.” A seasoned LTC financial lender may understand the ups and downs of this industry, but the expectation is that the provider is proactive, can speak about their issues, and has a plan to correct when necessary.

 

Finally, it’s an exciting (and scary!) time to be an LTC provider. By associating with the right partners, there are great opportunities to service our elders with the highest quality of care while also being profitable.