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Long-term care in the United States

Wisconsin School of Business Collaborates Across Campus and World to Deliver Healthcare Seminar

by Lavilla Capener, Staff Friday, October 4, 2013

As life expectancies continue to rise and 76 million baby boomers move into retirement age over the next 10 years, long-term care facilities will grow increasingly important to the U.S. healthcare market. The Wisconsin School of Business recently welcomed executives and managers from French company Orpéa to UW-Madison to study best practices in long-term care, rehabilitation, and mental health care in the United States.

The one-week program—held in May 2013—brought 20 managers to the Fluno Center for an intensive experience that included classroom discussions as well as site visits to long-term care facilities in the Madison area.

The program was a collaboration between the Center for Professional and Executive Development at the Wisconsin School of Business; the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Orpéa (a private French business that provides long-term care for the elderly and people with disabilities); and ESCP-Europe, the oldest business school in the world.

Malcolm Jeffris, senior director of custom executive education and one of the program organizers, was impressed that Orpéa and ESCP-Europe chose to work with the university.

“They could have used many other business schools, but chose Wisconsin both because of our growing global reputation and the fact that Madison represents a prototypical global healthcare scenario and marketplace,” Jeffris said.

Healthcare group visits the Wisconsin School of Business

Orpéa program participants hosted by Innovation Fund member Milo Pinkerton (MS '79) at the Middleton Heritage Assisted Living facility.

Barbara Bowers, a professor at the School of Nursing, led the curriculum development based on her research and involvement in public policy. Her goal was to bridge the gap between clinical and business knowledge within the group. 

“Many of the administrators in long-term care have great business training, but very little about care practices, clinical issues, and the consequences of business decisions on caregivers and patients. At the same time, many managers and administrators—particularly directors of nursing—have good clinical knowledge but minimal training in strategic planning and other basic business skills,” Bowers said.

Beyond her research, Bowers spent time learning about trends in the long-term care industry in France by poring over international studies and speaking with European contacts.  Although many similarities exist between France and the U.S., Bowers focused her curriculum on the impact of demographics, workforce trends, and public policy on the U.S. industry, as well as strategic human resources practices for hiring and retaining staff.

Professor John Mullahy of the School of Medicine and Public Health and Mark Covaleski, a Wisconsin School of Business professor, contributed additional lectures and participated in a panel discussion. Mullahy focused on the mental health care in the United States, and Covaleski spoke about the economics of health care in the United States. 

The future of long-term care in the United States also has an impact on the healthcare industry as a whole. As the federal government continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, hospitals will be more responsible for post-discharge care. If a hospital transfers a patient to a long-term care facility and the patient is re-admitted to the hospital within 30 days, that hospital faces stiff penalties and might not receive payment for the second stay.

“Hospitals are moving toward recognizing the importance of managing health care across the entire spectrum of health care delivery—from preventive care through long-term care,” Covaleski said.

The entire program was made possible through the Wisconsin School of Business Innovation Fund. Suzanne Dove, special assistant to Dean François Ortalo-Magné, serves as project manager for the fund.

“One of the primary initiatives supported by the Innovation Fund members is the development of executive education offerings in health care leadership,” Dove said. “We are working to build collaboration between our own business faculty and researchers and instructors from other schools on campus to develop interdisciplinary healthcare leadership programs. The Orpéa program is one of the first success stories in that effort.”    

Dove also mentioned that several Innovation Fund members are leaders in the healthcare industry, and one member even hosted a site visit during the Orpéa program at Heritage Assisted Living, a Middleton-based long-term care facility. 

As costs for long-term care continue to rise, the ability of organizations to deliver cost-effective and quality care will only become more important, Bowers explained.

“Every country, developed and developing, Eastern and Western, is struggling with how to do this. Exchanges like this will help us all learn from each other and gain insights into better ways to approach the challenge,” she said.