Wexner Heritage Village navigates a tricky health care environment

The leadership at Wexner Heritage Village continually discusses how to evolve and grow in a changing health care environment — a transformation that sped up after the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act and its surrounding regulatory changes.

The nonprofit organization works hard to navigate this turbulent environment and serve more involved and informed consumers, while staying committed to financial stability, cost efficiency, innovation and most importantly superior care.

For example, several years ago, WHV decided to reduce its number of long-term care beds, despite high demand. By being proactive and thinking strategically — knowing that Medicaid was continuing to cut its reimbursements and people wanted less institutional care with customized services — WHV stayed ahead of the curve.

Smart Business spoke with CEO David T. Rosen about the organization’s strategic planning efforts and how that works with an often fragmented and unwieldy health care system.

SB: How has WHV been able to cope with external forces such as health care reform and an aging population in the U.S.?

DR: We are in the final year of a three-year business plan that is primarily focused on diversifying our product lines and building services our consumers tell us they want, rather than those we think they need. By strictly adhering to this plan, we have doubled both the organization’s revenue and the number of people we serve in the past six years.

SB: What specific strategic steps has the organization made over the past couple of years in this health care environment?

DR: Shrinking public reimbursements and a cultural shift away from institutional care have forced organizations like WHV to re-examine our core businesses.

In our case, that has meant transforming ourselves from an organization that provides senior health care and housing into an integrated system of care. Central to our success has been reducing the number of traditional nursing home beds we maintain by 50 percent in order to make resources available to develop diversified product lines, including expanded in-home care, memory care, hospice and palliative care.

To further strengthen our position as a leader in the health care industry, we have refinanced nearly $20 million in long-term debt, redefined our marketing strategy and invested more resources into hiring and training the best, most talented associates available.

Additionally, we have built strong long-term relationships with thriving corporate partners such as OhioHealth.

SB: What are the keys to being proactive with these kinds of challenges?

DR: To be proactive, it is essential to have a strong vision of what you want your organization to look like in the next three to five years. It is equally critical to articulate that vision in a step-by-step plan.

The leadership team at WHV has been relentless about adhering to our plan and making sure that it informs every decision we make, at every level. This approach has allowed us to continue to grow without straying from our core mission.

SB: What advice would you give other business leaders who want to stay ahead of the curve?

DR: I have found it extremely beneficial to the organization to build a leadership team of extremely talented individuals who share my values and vision.

Then, I empowered each of these top executives to make decisions based on what’s right for our customers, not what’s most popular in the industry at the moment.

SB: Moving forward, in 2015 and beyond, what’s next on WHV’s radar as far as seeing ahead and preparing for future trends?

DR: We are already working on developing the next phase of our strategic business plan to carry us from mid-2015 through the next several years.

Through that process, we are taking a close look at expanding housing and assisted living options for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related conditions, increasing our scope of practice in medical rehabilitation and scaling up our in-home care and hospice services.

Going forward, much of our focus will be on controlling health care costs through preventive care, including wellness programs designed to keep older adults in their homes — and out of hospitals and long-term care facilities — as independently as possible for as long as possible.