Despite consumer preferences for home-based care, relatively few senior living organizations see it as a potential growth opportunity. Meanwhile, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) say they’re only losing a fraction of their referrals to home health providers.
That’s according to a recent report from Enquire Solutions, a Greenwood Village, Colorado-based customer relationship management (CRM) and contact center company focused on the senior living and post-acute care spaces.
Released last week, the report looks at sales and marketing trends among aging services providers. The Enquire Solutions report is based on feedback gathered through a survey of nearly 4,000 senior care locations across the U.S. and Canada, the vast majority of which identified as senior living rental or life plan communities.
The fact that senior living providers aren’t more bullish on in-home care business opportunities is somewhat surprising, as most aging adults prefer to remain in their homes and communities as they get older.
Broadly, those preferences have contributed to the rise of the home care and home health industries, with the latter projected to reach $108.8 billion in spending in 2019, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Office of the Actuary statistics.
Only 8% of respondents surveyed by Enquire Solutions said they see in-home care offerings as an opportunity for growth in the year ahead.
That figure is likely to change, however, as millions of middle-income older adults are projected to be priced out of senior housing at today’s average market rates.
Respondents cited sales process improvement, innovative product development and digital marketing automation as their three biggest perceived growth opportunities.
Findings from the Enquire Solutions report also support the idea that the trend of SNF diversion — or moving patients out of SNFs and into the home — may be hitting a peak.
Only 9% of surveyed SNF respondents said they lost referrals to in-home care providers.
Over the past few years, home health providers have positioned their operations to handle more acute patients traditionally served in SNFs. Those efforts have contributed to an overall reduction in SNF length of stays, but some industry experts believe the tide has turned.
They include George Hager, CEO of Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN), a Kennett Square, Pennsylvania-based holding company with subsidiaries that include more than 400 skilled nursing centers and senior living communities across the U.S.
“To anyone [who] would want [to] or has toured a skilled nursing asset, I would challenge you to look at the patients in our building and find patients that could be cared for in a home-based or community-based setting,” Hager said while speaking at the Barclays Global Healthcare Conference in March. “The acuity levels of an average patient in a skilled nursing center have increased dramatically.”
More than half of those surveyed by Enquire Solutions reported losing referrals to SNF competitors.