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Health Care Reform has essentially mandated that the Health Services realm imagine a New Future for Aging. This requires cooperation with the full complement of sub-acute care providers coupled with a renewed focus on technology gains and partnership with multiple stakeholders. Strategic Business planning that is responsive to emerging trends and dynamic changes in this sector must be equally informed by broader social and economic influences. Absent clear markers of Leadership and Vision, the advisable direction for current Operators is an exit strategy or plans for succession.

With all of the complexities emerging from healthcare reform, it is clear that the prevalence of “silos” threaten our survival. Now more than ever before, health care providers must conceive and execute strategic business plans to safeguard their asset interests and promote sustainability of continuing operations. This is particularly relevant to the Senior Housing & Care Industry – and most notably to freestanding operators of Skilled Nursing Facilities. The stable of inter-related issues and opportunities that confront us are financial, legislative, clinical, architectural, social and environmental. We would clearly advantage from an integrative perspective that acknowledges Aging as a universal process where preventative and human-centered measures apply equally across all age cohorts and business specialties.

The Skilled Nursing Sector is being dramatically redefined – where the traditional model of long-term chronic care is antiquated and trending to extinction. The new model is defined as the sub-acute provider – represented by progressive operating, clinical and rehabilitative service capabilities that are fully aligned and integrated into the “continuum of care” – strategically positioned and qualified to partner with acute care providers in particular. The greatest opportunity represented by the Skilled Nursing provider is a proven history of being the most cost effective post-acute care setting. The greatest threat is meeting and sustaining the qualifications to seize this opportunity.

Progressive operating capabilities and demonstrated care outcomes are essential. The key drivers for meeting the challenges of this new landscape will be strategic initiatives that promote active collaboration; foster provider integration; and leverage technology to evidence best practices and demonstrated outcomes. Strategic business thinking must extend to product, program and practice delivery – fully integrated and optimally aligned in the healthcare provider community. The status quo is clearly not viable – and undoubtedly operators not responsive to change will be casualties. Providers absent the willingness and resource capacity to conceive and implement Strategic Business Planning should take the next exit.