Opened in 1964, Lakeview Village is a non-profit, non-denominational Life Plan Community in Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of metro Kansas City. Lakeview’s campus comprises nearly 100 acres, is home to 700 residents, and is served by a team of 600 employees. In addition to independent living, we offer a full spectrum of health services, including rehabilitation, home healthcare, assisted living and skilled nursing.
Recognizing a Need (and an Opportunity)
When I joined Lakeview about 15 years ago, we had just completed an expansion that added 52 skilled rehab beds. As a result, we found ourselves interacting more frequently with Medicare and Medicare HMOs, and in our conversations with them, we recognized a common thread. Insurance companies, looking for ways to prevent readmissions, sought providers who could follow a patient, managing their care through the entire rehabilitation process. This is exactly what we, as a Life Plan Community, have been doing for our own residents for nearly 60 years, so we understand the relationship between continuity of care and positive outcomes.
Over the years, we developed relationships with other senior communities that would refer residents to our inpatient rehab for post-hospitalization 14- or 20-day stays. But after their stay with us, the care didn’t follow them. The residents would return to their home community, where they were handed off to other agencies for outpatient rehab and home care services. And, as insurance companies know, gaps in communication at those transition points are where problems happen and can lead to patients winding up back in the hospital.
To provide better continuity of care, we started looking at the home health and outpatient components of the rehab process and how we might offer continuing support for our referred rehab patients. That seeded the idea for expanding our offering beyond inpatient rehab.
Building Win-Win Relationships
First, we secured certification as a Medicare provider of outpatient therapy. We then partnered with two local assisted living communities. We rented an apartment at each of the communities and opened an on-site clinic to service all of the rehab and home care needs for each. The apartment (a studio or one-bedroom) is ample in size to accommodate an office area for home health staff, visiting doctors and a physical and occupational therapy space. And, because it is a fully functional apartment, patients can practice ADLs in a space that is similar, or even identical, to their own apartment in the community. Outfitting the apartment—setting up our medical records system, furnishing an office area, and installing therapy equipment—typically costs less than $25,000.
Now, patients can go from hospital discharge to our inpatient rehab at Lakeview and then home to their assisted living community, where the same team of Lakeview rehab professionals will continue to manage their care via outpatient rehab and home health services at our clinic right on-site. The same evaluating therapist the patient sees on day one can be the therapist they see on day 60 and all the visits in between.
This continuity of care has enabled us to reduce the average length of the intensive inpatient rehab stay from fourteen days to ten days. As a result, Lakeview benefits not only from the new revenue stream from the clinics, but also from a higher volume of inpatient referrals from the assisted living communities that appreciate how quickly we get their residents home where, at our clinic, they receive a continuation of the high-quality care they received as an inpatient. And there’s no risk in referring to Lakeview. As a Type A community, we pose no competitive threat. We share the same goal—to get their resident back home as soon as possible.
Vetting for Success
Since 2015, we’ve expanded the clinic program from two to seven communities and envision adding more. The keys to expansion are finding assisted living and/or independent living partners of sufficient size (100 beds or more) and, most importantly, have an excellent reputation for care. Lakeview is highly regarded in the marketplace, and we are keenly aware that when we engage in a partnership, we are tying our reputation to that of the partnering community. We are meticulous in our screening process. Consequently, as we’ve developed effective partnerships, both our brand and our partners’ brands have been strengthened by our association.
Staying True to Your Values
The project was driven by two of Lakeview’s core values: focusing on our strengths and cultivating potential. Our extensive experience as a provider of inpatient rehab services was the foundation for our successful venture into outpatient rehab clinics. But the inspiration behind it is the same goal that motivates all our efforts—seeking to better the lives of seniors.