Video: Joe DeMattos Interview with Apploi at eCap 2020

In February, Apploi went to Miami for the eCap20 healthcare summit. Hundreds of owners and operators, vendors, and thought leaders were on hand, so we teamed up with eCap to create The Thought Bubble, a place where we could sit down with smart people across the industry and learn more about the future of healthcare.

The Thought Bubble got a lot of attention. Here’s what it looked like:

We talked to over 30 people in the bubble, including Joe DeMattos, the president and CEO of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland (HFAM). The group has been around for 72 years and represents assisted living providers, skilled nursing and rehab centers, as well as people that work in home healthcare. Apploi’s team member, Karly, kicked it all off by asking Joe what brought him to eCap20.

Joe: Rapidly eCap has been the place to move from general partnership to deeper partnerships. We’re experiencing now a sort of historic consolidation in the marketplace where there’ve been ownership changes. We’re also at an intersection in healthcare, a very necessary intersection, with regard to technology, workforce, and quality care and many of those issues are discussed pretty effectively at eCap.

Karly: When it comes to technology, are there particular things that you’ve noticed changing that you’re excited about?

Joe: Well, at its heart, quality care is a people-helping-people business. We’re never gonna be one of those sectors where we’re highly automated like other sectors have become. But in quality health care, data is power. And products related to the transferring of a patient, or a resident across settings, data with regard to comorbidities, how sick someone is, or on the social determinants of health are all incredibly valuable as we move from a more fee-based system of paying for health care in the United States to a more value-based system of paying for care.

Karly: I’m curious on the value-based side, what do you think is really driving that in the market — what have you noticed?

Joe: I think there’s a couple of things driving it, I don’t think it’s one thing. A lot of people say that value-based purchasing in healthcare is strictly about limited resources, aging American population. That’s really part of it. But what’s also part of it is consumer expectation.

I’m a boomer. I don’t think most boomers realize that at some point as they age they’re going to touch a skilled nursing and rehab center. Their experience was that their parents didn’t want to be in them. Then their parents got older, and they realized that in many cases, having that continuum of care was a godsend. But most boomers don’t realize that they’re going to touch one at some point for themselves and when they do touch post-acute long-term care whether it’s in a center-based environment or at home, they’re going to have different expectations. So I think some of the value-based system is about consumer expectation, some of it is about cost, and some of it is about redefining what quality means. Moving from an industrial system, something is broken in your body, let’s fix it, as opposed to you’re not as well or as engaged as you could be, what will it take to get you well and engaged. So I think all of those are driving the move from fee-based supported care to outcomes-based, value-paid for care.

Karly: Are there other misconceptions in the industry or other ways that we need to be communicating to the next generation of people that will be the residents of these facilities?

Joe: I think going back to the way I started: I think at its heart, quality care is a people-helping-people enterprise whether you’re not-for-profit, for-profit, a single operator, you own 50 centers, or a diversified business of 30 entities. It’s a people-caring-for-people enterprise. I guess the one thing that both excites me and scares me, is that we haven’t made our best business case to recruit thirty-somethings.

You can be a thirty-something in our sector, really even a twenty-something, and you can run a ten million dollar enterprise that makes a positive difference in people’s lives. And so what excites me is, you can be a 28-year-old running a ten million dollar enterprise that really vastly improves somebody’s life and helps the family, and what scares me is not a lot of people know that that exists, so the people-challenge, and the people-opportunity, is probably the biggest part of the sector that I focus on as the president and CEO of HFAM.

Karly: On that note, what are some ways that you can be working towards recruiting that next generation and getting people more excited in their twenties and thirties?

Joe: I think when we recruit for future generations of leaders in healthcare we need to emphasize that we’re recruiting the total individual. We have to present ourselves more as a social enterprise. I think actually something that boomers and millennials specifically have in common is they care about issues and they care if somebody’s trying to make a difference. We need to do a better job telling that story. I think the money is important but telling our quality story, telling the story about how we’re making the world a better place, how we’re repairing the world. Are we making tzedakah? All of those things matter.

Also, the current younger generations have the most unfortunate timing of growing up during the Great Recession and so these young people are often delaying major life choices and they have major college debt and so looking at those potential future leaders with career ladders and telling them that they’ll have an opportunity to grow and to earn more and to make more of a difference and to recognize that we need to help them in ways that we maybe didn’t help immediate previous generations with things like college debt and housing. I think that’s going to be really critical going forward, especially in what you do, in recruiting.

Karly: Are there other particular trends that you’re excited about right now or things that you’re seeing shifts in the market that you want to highlight?

Joe: I think people are finally recognizing that while in the past you could be a really effective, really profitable provider of care in your sector — so you could be a profitable, effective, highly regarded skilled nursing and rehab center, or assisted living, or adult day, or home healthcare, and you could do relatively well on an island unto yourself. I think people are finally realizing that that doesn’t work going into the future. That you have to have partners. And you have to move from this issue of vendorship to partnership with your suppliers, with hospitals, with home health and recognize that in order to be successful you have to be connected and you have to focus on two things: people and quality. I’m really excited that that’s actually starting to happen.

Karly: That was fantastic, thank you so much.

Joe: Did I do alright?

Karly: Absolutely.

Joe: (gives thumbs up)

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