Data-Driven Decisions: No More“We’ve Always Done It That Way”


Despite the high employee turnover that ravages the senior care industry, there are still many professionals who have been in the industry for some time, often decades. They should be lauded. Leaders with a good deal of seniority and experience bring unmatched institutional knowledge and expertise. Indeed, with their determination, many of them brought their facilities through the pandemic.


But when it comes to the value of data and information, a few nonbelievers remain. There is a chance you will hear that familiar catchphrase. It makes you cringe when the words are spoken. “Well, we’ve always done it that way.”


For too long, the senior care industry has relied on gut instinct and a shoot-from-the-hip mentality in its decision-making.


Data Makes a Difference in Senior Care

Those days in senior care are nearing an end. As noted by SoftJourn, a firm specializing in using data for decisions:


The benefit of having a data-driven organization is that you have consistency over time. The approach helps people within the organization to know how decisions are made. People can identify the implications of data that is being collected, analyzed, and managed, and they take actions accordingly.


With CareWork, senior care leaders can look at the data to guide decision-making. CareWork ties in the numbers from all sectors of a senior care operation, big or small, whether it is an SNF, assisted living, or memory care.


CareWork addresses one of the biggest problems in the industry. The senior care industry was dragged kicking and screaming into the technology age. When technology did emerge, it came in bits and pieces, or silos. There was a program to handle personnel and scheduling. There was another program to address census and admissions and another to oversee patient outcomes. Making it all the more difficult, the silos did not talk to each other. It wasn’t easy to connect the dots and see the inter-relations.


How Data Works in Senior Care

Leadership can see the big picture by linking different departments in a senior care facility. A good example is the relationship between census and employee scheduling. When the scheduler assembles shift schedules, that person may not have access to census numbers in the facility. That’s in a different silo. The scheduler might not be aware that there were three new admits, or that there is a good likelihood that two post-acute care patients who have completed their regimen will go home in a few days.


In one instance, you are understaffed (and perhaps risking your CMS rating), and in the other instance, you are overstaffed and pushing payroll over budget.


Leadership, however, can look at the data and see this problem and prevent it. With CareWork, staffing would be exactly where it should be.


Data to Track Patient Outcomes

A review of the data can also help SNFs avoid readmissions. Too many readmissions can affect your Medicare readmission rate and even your five-star rating. This blog reported on one specific incident of a data-backed decision that reduced readmissions. It bears repeating:


A director of nursing at a memory care facility noted a high number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) among a few residents. An untreated UTI means a trip to the hospital for that resident, staff pulled away to take care of the transport, and the problems that come along if that hospitalization is considered a readmission (even more of a problem for SNFs).


The director of nursing looked at the data and identified that there were residents of the same age and diagnosis who were not suffering from UTIs. The commonality: all the non-afflicted residents had the same insurance carrier (Medicare-backed insurance, of course). That carrier sent out a visiting nurse weekly who was skilled at recognizing UTIs and treating them before they got out of hand. The director of nursing recommended to families of patients plagued by UTIs that they consider switching to the carrier with the visiting nurse. Enough families made the transition that the net result was a steep decline in UTIs and hospital admissions.


CareWork also allows you to look at readmissions and see if they are related to staff on duty when they occur. Sometimes preventing a readmission is an issue of increased staff training or better staff awareness. If a patient is prone to UTIs, they need extra water intake. Staff needs to be educated on that.


Data in Senior Care Helps Healthcare in General

For as long as we can all remember, there has been a movement to get control of healthcare costs in the U.S. It hit fever pitch with the Affordable Care Act and continues today. Using data goes a long way toward controlling those costs. This report by McKinsey bears it out:


A McKinsey study prepared in partnership with the German Managed Care Association (BMC) suggests that up to EUR 34.0 billion in potential value could have been realized in 2018 if the German healthcare system had been fully digitized …. equivalent to around 12 percent of its actual total projected costs of around EUR 290 billion [for that year] …. a record high … Germany’s aging population and expensive treatment methods are driving the rise in health spending. Because of this, savings would be welcome.


Sound familiar. It should. There have been studies in the U.S. with similar results.


CareWork Can Help

CareWork is an operational platform that allows you to connect the silos in your senior living operation. You get a 360-degree view of all your operations and all the data. Management and leadership can connect the dots and make intelligent management decisions. Carework is the future.


Call us today or visit our website.


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