About a decade ago, Joseph Steier, CEO of long-term-care company Signature HealthCare, wanted to move the company away from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He needed to find more healthcare talent to grow the company, and he knew the post-acute industry would soon be going through a painful transformation with the value-based care shift and reimbursement cuts. He wanted to be near like-minded companies dealing with similar issues.
Steier chose Louisville, Ky., the land of the famed Kentucky Derby, mint juleps, barrels of bourbon and, curiously, a bunch of healthcare companies that focus in some way on the over-65 crowd. The city has long served as a headquarters for a large cluster of senior-care companies, including skilled-nursing, assisted-living, hospice, and home healthcare organizations that have helped drive its economy.
Medicare Advantage giant Humana, home-health company Kindred Healthcare, and assisted-living companies Atria Senior Living and Trilogy Health Services are among those that call Louisville home and helped build its $80 billion healthcare industry. For Steier and other startups and entrepreneurs who would later set up camp there, Louisville represented a hub of experts in the senior-care space—a place to grow and learn, troubleshoot common problems and collaborate on best practices.
“Being around those kinds of organizations that are smarter than you or more resourced is just helpful for us. It’s really helped Signature a lot being part of this Louisville ecosystem,” Steier said. Since it moved to Louisville in 2010, the private company has grown from about 13,000 employees to 17,000.
But as home to the largest cluster of aging care companies in the nation, Louisville thinks it can do more than help the businesses that set up shop there. The city’s leaders and its healthcare companies are betting they can solve some of the biggest challenges the U.S. healthcare system is facing as Americans grow older in a country ill-equipped to care for them.
“There’s more power to our own stories and our own strategies within our own companies if we find ways to work together on common challenges, problems and opportunities plaguing the healthcare system,” said Rick Remmers, a senior vice president at Humana.