Health system ProMedica — which operates a large portfolio of senior housing and care communities — is launching a new initiative that it hopes will create a paradigm shift in how people, including older adults, receive care and improve quality of life.
The Healthcare Redefined Initiative, announced last week, takes a data-centric approach to health care and wellness by focusing on the environments where people live, work, and play, ProMedica Senior Care President Angela Brandt told Senior Housing News.
The initiative — which has been quietly piloted in the company’s home market of Toledo, Ohio — will expand to Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. These locations are part of ProMedica’s large footprint, which encompasses 28 states and includes 12 hospitals, as well as physician practices and more than 335 assisted living facilities, skilled nursing centers, memory care communities, outpatient rehab clinics, and hospice and home health care agencies.
For Healthcare Redefined, the health system can leverage its scale to establish partnerships with local nonprofit groups and organizations to address social determinants of health including access to quality affordable housing, food insecurity, access to education and continuing learning, economic stability, and community, in addition to access to quality health care.
Another facet of the program is a tech training partnership, geared toward providing people in underserved communities with workforce skills in the technology space, as well as entry level workforce training.
The program builds on a multi-year partnership established earlier this year between ProMedica and the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) to improve the safety and energy efficiency of homes in major cities in need of safe and affordable housing.
A business arm of nonprofit health system ProMedica, ProMedica Senior Care was established in October 2020, bringing its HCR Manorcare chain of skilled nursing and senior living facilities, including the Arden Courts memory care brand, under one umbrella.
ProMedica acquired HCR ManorCare’s operations in 2018 in a joint venture with real estate investment trust (REIT) Welltower (NYSE: WELL). Welltower, also based in Toledo, currently owns the properties as part of an 80-20 JV split with ProMedica.
Today, ProMedica is arranged in three main divisions: senior care, provider and clinical services and its Paramount health plan. The Healthcare Redefined Initiative will eventually include the former Arden Courts communities and ManorCare skilled nursing facilities.
Brandt believes that addressing the barriers to creating more safe, affordable housing will lay the foundation in affecting more positive health outcomes.
“If we’re working within a community where the data reflects that housing is a challenge for our patients and our families, then we want to make sure that our patients are being discharged home safely, where they aren’t going to have an exacerbation of their clinical situation and can thrive at home, in a safe way,” she said.
The Healthcare Redefined Initiative will use data to determine social determinants of health on a market by market basis. For example, breaking down a city like Chicago by ZIP codes can identify issues contributing to negative health outcomes such as a lack of quality affordable housing, poor infrastructure, unemployment rates, food insecurity, and lack of access to health care services.
This approach will also identify partners to work through the challenge, ranging from affordable housing advocates and food pantries, to transportation services and health partners.
Using data to identify the social determinants of health allows ProMedica to tailor the initiative to solutions on a market-by-market basis. An urban community may have a housing shortage or few employment opportunities, whereas a rural community’s main shortcomings could entail lack of access to healthy food, or inadequate transportation to health systems and medical care.
“We don’t have to always be the solution. But we can certainly be the connector to resources in these communities,” Brandt said.
The initiative will eventually be tailored to work within ProMedica’s senior housing and nursing facilities portfolio, and will cover social determinants of health for residents, staff, and the families of each.
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed additional pressures on frontline workers, and the industry has had to contend with a growing mental health crisis. As with local markets, however, each of ProMedica’s memory care communities is unique, with different social determinants of health and challenges to improve them.
“That comes back to a personalized approach to the care that we’re providing. That’s something that our industry does really well. It’s something that ProMedica is really excited to do on a broader level, using some of the expertise that we have already been successful with,” Brandt said.
Another facet of the Healthcare Redefined Initiative is a new partnership ProMedica launched earlier this year with Bitwise, a technology accelerator based in Fresno, California, to build an innovation center at ProMedica’s Toledo campus.
The center will focus on accelerating partnerships, workforce development, and promoting technological innovation for underserved communities in the Toledo area. This involves entry-level workforce training for jobs with a technology foundation. Brandt hopes that the partnership creates some jobs in the community, particularly in segments of the health care industry where technology can be integrated.
If the innovation center proves successful, Brandt sees ProMedica scaling the program into other markets.
“It gets to some of our core issues with our own workforce and health care,” she said.
ProMedica is also expanding its existing partnership with Kumanu, a purpose-centered wellbeing tech firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to cover partner organizations that the nonprofit identifies as stakeholders in its markets. In March 2021, the two firms launched a new platform, Resourceful, that supports employers by addressing unrecognized social determinants of health issues that can have an adverse impact on employees’ quality of life and work.
With burnout and mental health issues among senior living workers being exacerbated by the pandemic, Brandt believes that the platform can leverage data to rejuvenate the sense of purpose senior living workers find in their jobs, and strengthen connections between frontline workers and residents, as well as their families.
“When we think about offering that to other community partners or other employers, we can use our tools to serve in a way that helps somebody else. And that’s kind of what we’re all here for,” she said.