By Pam Kaiser, MSN, RN
The latest news from McKnight’s and Skilled Nursing News covering the Leading Age report Nursing Home Closures and Trends June 2015-June 2019 was disheartening.
All the work that goes into improving your star rating, delivering quality care, and you still cannot get ahead of the cost of doing business. If a stellar star rating can’t keep your doors open, what can?
Don’t let the report deflate you. There are things you can do, and your residents, too.
SNFs Take Action: Tell Your Story
Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) pointed out at the recent national convention that he used to rely on data to tell the story of quality, and it does. But he also shared that research shows that nothing is better to illustrate your quality than a story. So tell it – tell your story. Tell it to everyone who will listen. Broadcast your good work; care has never been better in SNFs, and everyone should know it.
Lobby your representatives, invite them to your centers, have them meet the residents and families, take action. We take what we do for granted because we do it all the time, every day, but for others, senior care is unfamiliar. Aging and chronic illness are not topics of conversation at the proverbial dinner table or subjects discussed at the watercooler or on social media. We need to elevate the conversation and bring up the important role we play in the healing process, getting residents home or becoming their home.
Don’t forget to also mention the jobs that you create, and your involvement in your communities. Take action and tell your story.
Focus on Continuous Improvement
Remember that Five-Star ratings are only a piece to the quality puzzle. At PointRight, we have pointed out, more than once, that a great Five-Star rating does not mean success in another important quality metric: rehospitalization or hospitalization. The reverse is also true. The challenge is to manage both to keep a steady referral flow and to open the opportunity to be successful, or better, to be indispensable, in alternative payment models like Accountable Care Organizations.
To start, make sure your Minimum Data Sets’ (MDS) information is dead accurate. We know that MDSs are central to care determination, quality measurement and revenue. You need to be sure that when they are transmitted to Medicare, they have been reviewed thoroughly; this is not the place to subscribe to a “good enough” analytics partner. You need a partner that has enough thought leadership to anticipate what is coming, and enough longevity and expertise in the field to provide actionable insights and solutions that easily plug into your existing workflow.
In addition, make sure you have visibility into how your center performs in rehospitalization metrics. The data source should be one that is properly evaluated and endorsed as a valid measurement tool- not something pulled together on the back of a napkin and then prettied up. You need to not just look good; you need to be good.
Ideally, you would have a way of evaluating how you manage clinical cohorts (population health) and specific individuals (person-centered care). Understanding opportunities in specific populations informs how you could improve managing individuals, and better management of individuals means better outcomes for the populations you serve.
SNFs: Don’t Give Up
This is the business, same as it always has been. Operators need to be nimble, read the market forces, manage costs, use data to drive improvement, tell their story, take action, and never, never give up.
Too many people are counting on you.
Pam Kaiser, MSN, RN
Vice President, Clinical Resource Team, PointRight
Pam has enjoyed 27 years in the healthcare field. A second career for her, she worked her way from a certified nursing assistant through the long term care ranks to become a leader in clinical reimbursement and compliance for several large long term care providers. She has a B.A in Advertising from Michigan State University and an MSN in Community Health Nursing from the University of Southern Maine.