PACE Conversations - Interview #2: 7 Questions with Executive Director Luke Reynolds

Katy Pickens

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Who is Luke Reynolds?

Luke Reynolds has been the Executive Director for LifeCircles PACE[1] in Muskegon for the last nine years. He expanded the organization from a single site serving just over 200 participants to 2 sites serving up to 525 individuals across three counties. He also grew annual revenue for LifeCircles to $30M while ensuring that older adults enrolled in the program could maintain their independence on their own terms within their homes.

[1] PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a holistic and integrated healthcare model that provides care to vulnerable elderly populations that qualify to live in a nursing home but want to continue living in their homes.


Q: Why did you decide to work in elder care?

A: Back in 1994 I was getting my master’s degree from Wayne State University, and I had an internship with the VA medical center in Detroit. I started working with World War II and Korean War veterans, and I developed an affinity for working with older adults. I loved listening to their stories and learning from their wisdom and their life experience.

Q: What makes PACE programming unique?

A: I think we’re the one tried and true fully integrated model that’s been around for fifty years now. It applies common sense principals to a population that, in many ways, the traditional medical model has under-served over the years. The reason it’s so unique is that we’re fully a health plan and a provider, and when you fully integrate those two distinct models, you become more aware of breakdowns in care that older adults face. By being proactive, you can prevent unnecessary loss of function or suffering.


Q: What has been the biggest challenge for LifeCircles with the pandemic?

A:. The pandemic fundamentally and dramatically changed everything for everyone. And surprisingly, I think right now is more difficult than it was when the pandemic was ramping up. Early on, when you’re running on adrenaline and you’re working closely together to respond to the crisis, it gives you a shared mission to get through it. Now, as we’re winding down, we’re in a period of ambiguity where we know the old way of life is over, but the new way of life hasn’t been fully defined. I think that PACE and every other industry I’ve looked at is experiencing higher turnover and resignations than any other time. That’s just a symbol of people’s frustration or impatience with this weird transition time. For me, as a leader who cares about my work force, I’ve worked hard to ensure that team members are fully supported and understand the dynamics impacting our operations.


Q: As the pandemic enters a new phase, have there been any permanent changes at LifeCircles?

A: The biggest change obviously is technology. We were dragging our feet for many years, but the pandemic forced us to become good with technology, largely with telehealth and virtual meetings. It also forced us to reconcile our dependence on the day center instead of home care. We care for people who live in their homes and want to remain in their homes, and that’s our promise to them — we’ll help them to age in their homes as long as possible.

I think the pandemic gave us an opportunity to better understand and evolve our care model. We have shifted from seeing ourselves as primarily a comprehensive day center model to an integrated home and community-based model that includes a great day center.


Q: Can you speak to the role of data collection and analysis in PACE programs?

A: PACE as an industry is a little behind the times on data collection because PACE doesn’t fit neatly into a box. The federal government still has not published publicly reported outcomes for PACE. In my opinion many traditional health care measures aren’t great measurements for PACE – We have to ask ourselves how many of the traditional health care measures help frail elderly people live on their own terms and according to their needs? All the buzz right now is around social determinants in healthcare, and I think that PACE is the leader in understanding these non-clinical influencers and providing the right kind of care and support to people in those areas. Figuring out how to use data to show how we add value in that space is our challenge. I love what Intus has been able to provide us, because it is something I have been wanting to do for years.

Q: Why did you decide to move forward with Intus Care? What obstacles were you running into prior?

A: Our EMR is one that does what it needs to do. It allows our team to create integrated care plans, document services and interventions, communicate between disciplines, submit encounters to CMS, and authorize and pay claims like a health plan. However, what is missing is the ability to easily aggregate, understand, and mine data. PACE is best when we can predict and proactively care plan for risks or adverse clinical outcomes for patients. Our EMR can’t help us with this type of analytics. It requires a lot of time, energy, and resources to extract aggregate data and learn from it. Intus is exactly what I was looking for. Now, I simply go into Intus myself - I can quickly see risk levels, understand what services are being provided and how often, and see trends. The care teams benefit from simple to use dashboards that use AI and predictive analytics to help them proactively identify safety or medical risk factors. Intus greatly informs care management priorities by targeting specific areas of concern. It allows our teams to use EMR data in meaningful and intentional ways.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do?

A: When I am feeling bogged down or burdened by administrative work, I walk out into the day center. I talk to people, and I watch the community being re-established for older adults who might be lonely or isolated without us. This is the way I reset and am reminded of why I do this work. Really, it’s just celebrating all of the wonderful older adults who have contributed to their communities over the years. PACE allows their later life chapters to be meaningful and joyful. It’s wonderful to watch caregivers who were once so tired and overburdened start to feel healthier once their loved ones are enrolled in LifeCircles.

It is also inspiring to see how our team members step up to take care of the LifeCircles participants. We had one instance where a participant’s house caught on fire, and our CNA brought them out of the house before it was too late. That person was safely tucked into an assisted living home by 6 pm on the same day with all her medications and supplies, while the family works on getting her a new place to live. That type of quick, high coordinated care just doesn’t happen outside of the PACE model.

Intus Care provides dynamic data solutions to help frontline workers analyze trends and better serve their patients. Intus Care’s data platform enables healthcare professionals to visualize and identify trends for long term care facilities and other programs, such as PACE, which care for the elderly.

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