Which school of thought prepares post-acute providers for future success?

jkw_LHE_041513_208Leaving the LTC100, you could almost feel the ground starting to shake – and you can really feel it.

It is scary for most of us mere mortals who do not have a crystal ball to consider questions like: What is the real rate of change? How much risk can you tolerate? How does operational fatigue play into it all? And how do you get your team on the same page anymore while continuing to focus on core fundamentals that get harder daily, new mental modes required to assess the future, and the cultural implications on all of your stakeholders who just need to provide great care to the more complicated residents, 24/7?

Personally, I could see Anita M. McGahan’s framework of Industry Cycles of Change in many sidebar conversations, even if they did not know they were using it!

There are really too many conferences with spins on same themes, so many talking heads everywhere around us that could operate a lemonade stand, and the plethora of online healthcare futurist bloggers telling us we are all screwed in the end, that we should give up and go into medical tourism.

I ask myself often, ‘how many futurists can you trust without just giving up and throwing in your towel (or in my place, the keys), anyway?’

There seem to be only four distinct schools of thought circling around post-acute providers that I know intimately with no clear, absolute boundaries between them.

Heck, with leadership turnover at many shops, hospital C-suites changing rapidly, and REITs getting scared of future rent collectibility in many tired and dated centers, I always say just pick one that you believe in your heart and go with it.

The schools of thought I run into often…

School 1 – When we do the basics of quality, post-acute services will be chased by everyone so keep it simple, be a late adopter and in the end they need you anyway. Keep solid surveys, keep your team on fundamentals, squeeze your last liquidity left in the core business of fee-for-service and the other vertical healthcare providers will help pay you to convert later?

School 2 – We must be the first to embrace the new healthcare policy, new customer mindsets, and related technologies. Go ahead and grab the ‘halo effect’ and brand equity, because they all need to find innovative providers. During that vetting period, your team can learn things like rapid prototype options and innovation frameworks, and by trying many versions, you will be the first to figure it out. You know your core business is declining daily, so why wait? Recreate like the Blue Ocean framework taught us.

School 3 – What the heck is going on? Heightened regulatory scrutiny, closing networks, hundreds of new middlemen taking pounds of flesh soon, growing staffing challenges, just to name a few. These demands are getting insane and too risky too swallow. The provider has very little upside left – get the heck out of dodge and let one of these futurists or competitors who do not believe it will change buy us because the good days are over. Half of my close peer friends are thinking this way as we speak.

School 4 – Our best days are ahead of us. Just ‘Andy Dufresne’ it, like Shawshank Redemption, because with digital paperless, EMR, hand-held technology, value-based alignment, gain sharing, more transparency, and lower costs, we are going to win big anyway!!! We will be ahead of surveyors finally, see customer activity virtually, and that old way was misaligned anyway. So let’s get on with it and finally make some real hay in a more aspiring way – because when it finally turns, it will be beautiful.

Here, where we are at the Revolution today, we try to live School of Thought #2, but every time we stumble big time, we revert back to School of Thought #1. But School of Thought #4 will make all of the pain turn to joy someday if we can just see the mountaintop.

There are so many mixed signals from external forces that make it challenging to get everyone on the same page, so over-communicate if time permits and don’t ever give up because they all need us even if they act like they don’t. We are still the most inexpensive service that no one ever wants, but many really need like never before.

What I Learned From Jim King

FullSizeRenderThe past week has been difficult for our city because one of its most influential leaders of the past few decades passed away. But for me, I also lost a great friend and mentor.

My first contact with Mr. King was a phone call to tell me my CPEs were late for my CPA license – he had checked the registry – which tells you a lot about his expectations and belief that things should be buttoned up at all times.

Since early in my career I have been blessed to feel, like many, that I was under the ‘Jim King Tent.’ We became close over a personal matter that joined us in a trusting and intimate way, and bonded us as kindred spirits forever.

Through the years he took my wife, Sony, and I to Derby when we still lived in Florida. He and I had regular lunches, discussed how to improve our city, watched U of L games and shared political fundraisers. Every time I was with Mr. King, I learned life lessons to remember.

Here is my list:

Lesson 1 – You can successfully serve your family, business and city at the same time.

Lesson 2 – You can hold strong views grounded in personal experience, but still meet people halfway – which he did for me several times when I needed him most.

Lesson 3 – You can build a great legacy without a head start. Personal or professional, his achievements were always carried out with passion, diligence, and great planning.

Lesson 4 – There is no time for excuses or failure to execute – Mr. King overcame obstacles with amazing tenacity, never thinking about failure.

Lesson 5 – Do your homework because details always matter. Mr. King spent countless hours reading every loan, city ordinance and financing obligation; his technical business acumen built a lasting bank and saved our city millions of dollars. It was all in the details.

Lesson 6 – You can lead the people and still be one of them. Mr. King had great charisma and a scary memory so he maintained relations with ease, but his crowd was never just the powerful and influential – it was always everyone.

Lesson 7 – Be Present. When you were with Mr. King, he looked you in the eyes, ignored his phone, asked questions and made you feel like your issue was his issue to solve together.

Lesson 8 – Support your children’s dreams at all costs. Mr. King supported, pushed, and challenged his kids. He protected them but also taught them everything he knew about leadership and responsibility – which was a blessing to watch.

Lesson 9 – Always go “all in.” Mr. King relentlessly pushed himself and everyone around him. When he believed in anything, there was no “I’ll try” – it was a quest to make sure it happens no matter what!

Lesson 10 – If Mr. King really liked you, you were blessed. I knew I could go to Mr. King for personal or professional counsel, and would always receive unconditional love.

At our last private lunch we talked about the illness briefly, but we talked more about his love for his beautiful wife, Debbie, and how he kissed her differently now. We talked about future hopes for his family, and dreams still unfulfilled for our great city. Like always, we held hands and prayed for a miracle to beat his cancer, thanked God for abundant blessings, asked God to protect our loved ones, and to guard our children’s souls!

My life was changed by Jim King. Now that he is gone I am just going to try and live his life’s lessons, which I learned up close and personal!

A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 23 edition of Business First of Louisville.

Redeeming Cuba: Historical Perceptions Through a Pop Culture Lens

IMG_6061We are all stamped mentally with our own personal imagery of Cuba in a peripheral way. We really cannot escape it: the epic stories of Fidel Castro’s meteoric rise, the Bay of Pigs disaster that, in the end, accelerated the communist legend overnight and created New Age Communism.

People of my generation grew up fearing the Cold War and the Iron Curtain like nothing else, often having childhood nightmares because our parents told us a complicated story at the dinner table that the world almost ended over a 9-day period, because Cuba let Russia aim active missiles right at our backyards. Literally, with only a few communist fingers tapping buttons, it would have been the end of the world as we know it.

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What would Che Guevara and Fidel Castro say today about their political partnership?

(This is the first in a two-part series.)

I’m not going to lie, I don’t really even like drinking rum or smoking cigars. But when I got my first chance to travel to Cuba and look inside the Castro hype, I was in from day one.

IMG_6054With the help of the leadership team and our amazing Bluegrass Chapter at YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), we secured a license as a humanitarian group taking medicine and aid, and supporting local artists while studying their world-renowned arts.

This would give all of us our first real chance to take a deeper look at the communist political model up close and personal. The ‘Marxist Revolutionary’ school of thought has been our greatest ideological competition, and really, our greatest enemy for the last 100 years.

From the beginning, it was Fidel’s revolution and his partnership with Che Guevara, combined with other historic events, that have kept governmental resentment sky high, even now.

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The Largest Hall of Fame Ceremony in the World!

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This week, the Signature Revolution continues to break elder care world records.

We recently helped establish a new Guinness World Record for ‘Longest High-Five Chain’ in the world when SHC of Terre Haute residents and stakeholders joined the community for the United Way’s ‘High Five Campaign for Every Child.’

And last week, the most senior athletes in the world competed in regional Senior Olympics events ranging from Tampa to Tennessee to Louisville, where hundreds and hundreds of elder athletes competed to win team championships and prestigious medals with cheering crowds.

But this week is even bigger.

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Gulfport: Amazing Story

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Rarely in our lifetimes do we get the chance to bring something back to life.

We may ‘add to’ life as we contribute to our divine purpose. Maybe a few times we ‘co-create life,’ as parents. But to bring it back or restore it like Elijah, the great prophet, did in the Old Testament when he resurrected the young boy of the widow, is a miracle to truly celebrate.

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