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NIC Spring Investment Forum Addresses Hot Industry Topics: Healthcare, Labor, Changing Markets

Focused on the themes of collaboration, innovation, and how to navigate current market realities, the 2018 NIC Spring Investment Forum drew nearly 1,800 attendees to the Omni Dallas Hotel last week.

The busy three-day meeting provided a wide variety of networking opportunities, several NIC-hosted receptions, and 17 educational sessions.

In the media briefing on Wednesday, Brian Jurutka, President and CEO of NIC stated: “NIC has always evolved to meet the needs of the industry.  This conference represents our recognition that the collaboration and partnerships between traditional seniors housing operators and senior care enablers will ultimately provide value to residents.  We think that, in the future, instead of senior residents going to healthcare healthcare will come to the seniors.”

Jurutka opened the general session by introducing the Forum’s theme, “Unlocking Value in Senior Care Collaboration.” He noted three drivers of industry change: a change in the wants and needs of baby boomers relative to previous generations, changes in healthcare payment models and delivery pathways, and technology.

Jurutka opened the general session by introducing the Forum’s theme, “Unlocking New Value in Senior Care Collaboration.” He noted three drivers of industry change: a necessary shift in approach needed to care for the coming wave of baby boomers, changes in healthcare payments and delivery systems, and new technology.

“Seniors housing and care operators can create value through partnerships with senior care enablers, whether non-real estate based care providers or hospitals and health systems,” said Jurutka. He noted that quite a few of the educational sessions were devoted to evolving partnerships between healthcare enablers and seniors housing and care communities.

A panel of healthcare policy experts followed Jurutka. They offered their candid observations about the growth of Medicare Advantage plans, value-based purchasing for healthcare, and how senior living companies can position themselves for success.

The luncheon general session included a lively discussion on investment strategies. Panel moderator Kurt Read, RSF Partners, asked panelist Rick Matros of Sabra REIT and Arnold Whitman of Formation Capital about a number of timely topics: interest rates, care delivery, the dangers of over leverage, and the critical issue of labor shortages.

Educational sessions were held over the course of the three days. Here’s a recap of some of the sessions:

“Integration of Care Services: How to Partner with Places People Call Home.” Several providers offered their experiences of partnering with healthcare services. Tony D’Alonzo of Bayada Home Health Care noted that 25 percent of its clients are living in seniors housing. In another example, Brandywine Living uses healthcare coordination as a differentiator.

“Operators and Investors… So Who is Going to Take Care of All Those Boomers?” Panelists addressed the labor shortages facing the industry and the need to recruit and retain good staff. Some of the solutions included hiring older workers and using new technologies to increase efficiency.

“A Fireside Chat with Equity Players in Senior Care.” A diverse panel of senior care stakeholders discussed the outlook for real estate and non-real estate assets. Moderator Ben Firestone of Blueprint Healthcare noted the strength of market headwinds; but added that property performance always comes back to the operator. A rapid fire round of questions produced an outlook of rising property and non-real estate asset prices and continued shortages on the labor front.

“What Seniors Housing and Care Investors Need to Know about Healthcare and Why It’s Important.” Moderator Anne Tumlinson provided a backdrop of the intersection of healthcare and senior living. In short: all senior living residents are covered by Medicare and many are in the Medicaid program. These seniors account for a large amount of healthcare spending. Two senior living providers described their programs to offer care coordination and how the programs have increased census and made for happier residents.

“The Path to Healthcare Risk: Do You Have a Decent Map and Proper Footwear?” Panelists discussed taking on risk for healthcare. Several provided insights into how they insure their own residents. They agreed that the insurance route isn’t for everyone.

“Local Markets Performance in Seniors Housing and Care” took a deep dive into market metrics and how NIC MAP data tools can be used to determine which markets offer the best opportunities.

NIC Chief Economist and Director of Outreach, Beth Mace, provided an overview of macro-economic conditions. She addressed the factors that impact individual market performance: economic vitality, labor force availability, demographics, and new building supply. “There is an upward pressure on wages and a downward pressure on rents,” she noted.

Audience members were polled on the Forum’s mobile app during the session. In answer to one question, a majority of attendees agreed that labor pressures are the biggest challenge they face.

Highlighting the wide variations in local markets, Lana Peck, NIC senior principal, detailed data on San Francisco, Houston and Atlanta. She also demonstrated NIC MAP tools that can be used to define trade areas, including a new feature that segments markets by drive time.

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