Wellness…Campus Amenity or Health Solution

In a 1992 article, The Balanced Scorecard, written by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton about the factors necessary to drive organizational performance, the authors identify that a company’s ability to innovate, improve, and most importantly learn; is directly tied to a company’s core values. The authors believe that the only way to deliver what the mission and values inspire an organization to become; is by constantly exploring ways in which to deliver a higher quality product and one that defines value for its customers. Value—defined by daily experiences that lead the customer to a purpose-driven life. Value —that makes the customer believe that your organization is not only equipped but committed to helping you, the customer, achieve your life’s goals.

Over the past several years the desire to deliver on customers’ wishes, needs and aspirations has caused our organization to not only challenge its traditional delivery mechanisms but also has inspired the leadership of Evangelical Homes of Michigan to reinterpret its traditional services. That new interpretation has allowed Evangelical Homes of Michigan to transform itself from an organization defined by its compliment of physical facilities to a vibrant, ever evolving organization focused on developing strategies that encourage continual learning and address market share maximization in today’s competitive health care and housing industry.

The core value of knowledge acquisition through generational understandings and market studies has allowed Evangelical Homes of Michigan, its Board of Directors, and its staff to better understand not only what older adults desire today but also what future generations of active older adults will define as valuable. Years of research by Evangelical Homes of Michigan’s health and wellness team, has led us to question the senior service industry’s paradigm that health care services are the only service delivery options for older adults, assuming that all elders are automatically going to “need” medical care. The dilemma of our industry’s desire to define return on investment and revenue generation solely by offering skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, has caused most senior providers to ignore customers’ wishes of an active and robust life in their own home.

Over the past five years, Evangelical Homes of Michigan has begun to define competitive edge and market advantage not only by being there when a life altering condition exists but also by offering preventative health services that include physical fitness and whole body well-being. Senior service providers should explore what the statistics state in terms of the types of services and supports we should be offering. The sequential learnings of Evangelical Homes of Michigan’s leadership team has identified a value proposition of wellness and technology integration that has caused our organization to embrace and commit financial resources to the ongoing growth and development of home-based health and wellness solutions. Here are a few of the alarming statistics:

  • Today there are 43 million individuals over the age of 65 living in this country. By 2030 that number increases to 71 million.
  • 90% (or 39 million) older adults live in their own homes
  • Current market study information indicates that 85% of older adults desire to stay in their own home for life.
  • There is shocking information about the primary drivers that cause an older adult to leave their home; physical decline and inability to walk safely in their home, the need for home repairs and modifications, the need for medication management to prevent medication error, a decline in nutritional health and social isolation.

More shocking than the statistics is how simple the solutions can be. These learnings should assist in guiding our industry’s mission and strategy to continue serving older adults and at Evangelical Homes of Michigan, they have. As we continue to expand and innovate how more older adults can be touched more efficiently and in greater ways, we know much of this growth will happen in the home. At a November 2009 conference, R.A Mashelkar introduced a wonderful concept about value proposition-“more for less for more.” Think about this from a wellness and whole-being health perspective-exponentially more wellness for much less cost in order to serve more older adults. il5 With this challenge before us, the tools chosen and the acceptable solutions have changed. Instead of wellness existing as a robust campus amenity, it now becomes an outcome – based health program.

If senior service providers embrace this challenge, technology can take on a whole new perspective. Technology solutions now become tools to help produce health instead of “gadgets” that try to justify their cost and functionality. Researching solutions, customizing technology features and testing client acceptance all become imperative; if we embrace a discipline that believes technology decisions should be made because of technology’s contribution to health and wellness outcomes. At Evangelical Homes of Michigan, we believe technology will serve three primary roles in home wellness: data collection, prompting interventions and most importantly, social connectivity. Any technology solution will be examined for its contribution and capability in all of these areas.

Technology applications then become “the colors on the artist’s pallet.” Technology embracement is dependant on the quality of the “pallet” or the platform in which the applications are housed. We have found that older adults are not resistant to technology as many industry leaders complain, they are resistant to “gadgets” that are too numerous, have irrelevant functionality and too difficult to use. Our findings reveal that technology embracement is dependant on relevant applications being housed on a simple platform and the ability for skilled coaches to intervene appropriately.

Steve Hopkins is the Executive Director of LifeChoice Solutions™ a new subsidiary of Evangelical Homes of Michigan (EHM) developed to offer home based wellness, health and technology products. Led by Denise B. Rabidoux, President/CEO, EHM has transformed itself from a nursing home provider serving 600 seniors; to a leading edge solutions provider serving 2000 older adults and their extended family.