Getting the Most Out of Your Long-Term Care Data
Updated: Mar 20
Long-term care is a tough business. The clientele is mostly older, quite often living on a fixed income, and their ouch factor for price points is typically high. By the time they get to your community, family members or loved ones are managing their finances, adding another line of communication and more sensitivity to the topic.
As we reported a few weeks ago, and if the numbers hold, 1.4 million people will need to live in one of roughly 15,600 SNFs alone in the U.S. But with downward pressures, there are likely to be fewer SNFs in operation. About 550 SNFs went out of business between 2015 to 2019, and that was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Also older residents are more susceptible to medical problems: broken bones from falls, urinary tract infections, dehydration, cognitive issues, and much more. They need to be more closely monitored to make sure that their essential needs are being met. Are they eating well? Are they exercising?
Add to that the pressures of meeting governmental regulations, including staffing levels and the income that can be lost to fines or penalties for a low CMS rating. It is not easy, but the service provided by SNFs and ALFs is so needed.
Data is the Key to Success in Long-Term Care
As with many other businesses today, data has become key to running an SNF or ALF facility. It is the only way to meet that trifecta of good business practices:
1) Delivering excellent care. 2) Maintaining an environment where employees are treated with the utmost respect, compensated fairly, recognized for their strengths, and will remain on the job 3) Operating a profitable business. The challenge lies in how to best use that data. Here are some tips.
How do You Get the Data?
The long-term care industry was slow to adapt to technology, and when it did, information developed in siloes. One program handles staffing. Another might handle scheduling. Yet another system handles clinical, census, and AR. It doesn’t stop there. It seems as if there is a silo for every activity, and they do not communicate with each other.
This is problematic. If you don’t have a 360-degree view of the data, leadership and management can’t see how different activities affect one another. You can’t automatically see how an increase in census means that you need to add staff so that your facility is meeting CMS requirements. Just as alarming, you can’t see how a decrease in census means you need to reduce staff. Overlook that, and the result could be unnecessary spending.
You need a central view of the data.
Organizing the Data So it Tells a Story About Your SNF
CareWork is the first software platform in the senior care industry to bring these different siloes together. Now you can see how everything affects everything else. By being able to see all your key performance indicators at once on one dashboard, you can better see how one affects the other.
One of your concerns is likely to be transferring all that data to CareWork. Suppose you have six or seven platforms handling every aspect of your long-term care business. How do you get it into CareWork without having to enter it by hand, or going through a complicated data transfer process where you risk losing data?
No worries. We developed CareWork to easily map data from the systems you already use. Understanding the Data in Your SNF or ALF
The first step in understanding the data is to get leadership and management looking at the same numbers, your key performance indicators. These are suggestions for the numbers you should look at every day, and make sure someone on your team has responsibility for following up on those numbers:
Financial and Operational Performance · Average Daily Census (ADC) · Length of Stay (LOS) · Payer mix · Labor PPD & Employees per Occupied Bed (EPOB) · Overtime · Procurement – Spend & PPD · Revenue & Collections · Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) · Case Mix Index · PDPM and Case Mix Scores · Medicare and Medicaid Rates
Internal Business Process · Quality Measures · Survey Results · Readmission Rate · Five-Star Rating · Turnover & Retention Learning, Innovation, and Growth · Continuing Education · EBPs implemented · Systems & Tools
Again, it is also important to understand the relationship between the numbers. Is your readmission rate affected by a lack of training in a specific wing? That can easily be addressed. Has a new source of referrals appeared in the census? Do you need to track down the source and discover how they found out about you? There could be more residents there.
Encourage Peer Mentorships to Understand Your SNF Data
Some members of your leadership are “data evangelists.” Others are more focused on care. That’s okay. People are different, and a well-rounded staff is what makes successful operations work. But it is important that all members of your team understand the data at a basic level and appreciate what it means for their part of the operation.
Match the data evangelists with team members for whom the numbers don’t mean as much. Encourage the exchange of ideas and information so that everyone appreciates what they are seeing in the numbers.
It is also incumbent for senior management to look at all the numbers on a regular basis. Measurements that are chronically off or out of acceptable limits might be indicative of someone who is not understanding the meaning of the numbers for their operation.
Dive Deeper When You see a Trend at Your SNF
Is census building? There are some indications that the downward pressures on SNFs and ALFs are lightening up, and Covid-19 seems to be lessening. If you are starting to see an upward tick in the census, it might be time to recognize that this is more than a blip in the graph. Maybe it’s time to go through the resume stack. When it is time to hire a new employee, you should already have a list of names.
As Covid-19 recedes from the scene, it is tempting to get lax. Don’t forget flu season. Left unchecked, this seasonal malady can be almost as devastating to a senior care facility.
These are all trends and patterns you will see in the data.
CareWork Helps Analyze SNF Data
CareWork streamlines operations and makes it easy to keep an eye on the trends that affect the efficiency of SNFs and senior care facilities. By integrating the systems SNFs already use, we give teams a one-stop-shop to proactively manage tasks, view analytics, and manage workflow. We make care work easier.
Ready to work more efficiently? If so, contact us today.