Summit Wrapup: Telehealth Investments Rise and Senior Living Rethinks Healthcare

CAST | September 22, 2020 | by Donna Childress

Speakers at the Collaborative Care HIT Summit said COVID-19 is spurring innovation and investments in telehealth and tech-driven healthcare in senior living.

COVID-19 has brought explosive growth in telehealth investments and created more opportunities for healthcare tech in senior living, according to speakers at the Collaborative Care & Health IT Innovations Summit. LeadingAge CAST and the LTPAC Health IT Collaborative sponsored the summit, held virtually Sept. 15-17, 2020.

Technology Spurs Senior Living Innovation

McKnight's Senior Living shared key learnings from the keynote address LTPAC Market Trends & Technology in a recent article. The following excerpts from “Technology-enabled services and care are fueling innovation in senior living, speakers say” share the author’s takeaways.

Telehealth Acceleration and Investment

Dan Hermann, president and CEO of specialty investment bank Ziegler, said that huge opportunities are happening for healthcare, senior living, care services, and technology adoption. Demographic trends of the 75+ population, with growth expected to double in the next 15 years, is a driver. Ziegler is a LeadingAge Gold Partner with CAST Focus.
 
The response to COVID-19 is accelerating telehealth, with CMS waivers and flexibility driving investment into telehealth, Hermann said. Ziegler represents several telehealth companies that have seen their values increase 25% to 50% from pre-COVID levels.
 
John Hopper, chief investment officer at Link●Age Funds and managing director of Link●Age Ventures, said that progress that would have taken three to five years is now happening in one month because of COVID-19.
 
CAST notes that at the most recent CAST Commissioners meeting, held Aug. 4, 2020, many commissioners supported this finding, reporting an acceleration of technology in their organizations.

Learn more about new spending in telehealth and other technologies in this month’s CAST article “Surveys Show Increased Tech Spending & Telehealth Adoption.”

Technology Innovation Is Rising Rapidly

Technology innovation is on the rise across aging services. “The COVID crisis has really focused people to say not only is there a big opportunity out there, but as an industry, there are probably better ways to utilize technology when providing care to the aging population,” said Hopper.
 
“There are greater investments in technology across the board, and it’s continuing to increase, from engagement to fall detection,” Hermann said, noting that there is a need for a larger amount allocated to technology within senior living.

Providers Are Consolidating

Smaller providers are seeking larger, more strategic partners, Hermann said. Half of those Ziegler has facilitated are affiliations or mergers, and half are dispositions of nursing homes going to the for-profit sector, looking to grow and scale up technology. Healthcare technology companies are also consolidating, becoming regional or national and ultimately being acquired or merging with larger clients.

Senior Living Is Rethinking Healthcare Services

A Summit wrapup in Senior Housing News said the pandemic is causing senior living providers to rethink their stance on providing health care services and look to ways to coordinate care. “Kramer: Covid-19’s ‘Creative Destruction’ of Senior Living Requires New Tech-Driven Models,” said that as older adults resist going to doctors' offices and hospitals for fear of contracting COVID-19, while experiencing social isolation due to quarantine, senior living providers have opportunities to coordinate health services in their communities along with social engagement.

Senior Housing News provided the following learnings from the session.

“The health and safety of your residents and staff is what you’re going to be judged on,” said Bob Kramer, Nexus Insights founder and National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) co-founder, at the session called Future Directions for the Collaborative Care Sector in Light of Recent Events. “And if they’re failing, in a pandemic or in a flu season, you’re going to be judged and held accountable for that.”
 
Telehealth, artificial intelligence, remote monitoring, and other technologies can play a role.
 
Payers see opportunities as well, with remote care management able to expand access and reach for members, said panelist Andy McMahon, vice president of health and human services policy at UnitedHealthcare Community & State.
 
Panelist Susheel Ladwa referenced data silos and believes an upcoming rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will be a game changer. The Interoperability and Patient Access final rule will require all health plans to make their data available as an application programming interface by July 1, 2021. Developers then would have access to more general health care data and could better address interoperability during tech design.
 
Moderator Majd Alwan, Ph.D., LeadingAge senior vice president of technology and business strategy and CAST executive director, said that healthcare and aging services swung from being data-poor to being overwhelmed by data and can now more easily address interoperability.
 
“It’s a must to have the right visualization tools, data analytic tools, predictive modeling, AI, machine learning and deep learning to turn the data into knowledge,” Alwan said. “And then layer the experience of the providers and the payers and the professionals right on top.”

Missed the Summit?

Don’t worry, all the content will be available on-demand on the Virtual Summit’s Platform through Feb. 2021 to all registered attendees, as well as anyone interested in registering to gain access.