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Hey! Where’s the Data?

Earlier this month a committee of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality Report. You can download it for free.

The Takeaways

The download is 605 pages, so it will be difficult to find anyone that has read it yet. iAdvance Senior Care was good enough to whittle it down to the big takeaways:

  1. “The way in which the United States finances, delivers, and regulates care in nursing home settings is ineffective, inefficient, fragmented, and unsustainable.”

  2. “Immediate action to initiate fundamental change is necessary.”

  3. “Federal and state governments, nursing homes, health care and social care providers, payers, regulators, researchers, and others need to make clear a shared commitment to the care of nursing home residents.”

  4. “Extreme care needs to be taken to ensure that quality-improvement initiatives are implemented using strategies that do not exacerbate disparities in resource allocation, quality of care, or resident outcomes.”

  5. “High-quality research is needed to advance the quality of care in nursing homes.”

  6. “The nursing home sector has suffered for many decades from both underinvestment in ensuring the quality of care and a lack of accountability for {how] those resources are allocated.”

  7. “All relevant federal agencies need to be granted the authority and resources from the U.S. Congress to implement the recommendations of this report.”

If you are part of the senior care industry, you are no doubt hopping mad about #1 and #6: The finance and + of senior care in the US is all those things. But to apply those allegations to those that deliver senior care is an insult. It is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated people who work in this industry for low wages and not a lot of recognition. It is an insult to the leadership and management who every day are trying to figure out how to do more with less.

It is clear that the relevant governmental regulators are still stuck in an adversarial approach rather than sitting down with the industry and asking about the challenges we face. Are there bad actors in the industry? Yes, but most SNFs, ALFs, LTPACs and others are working day after day, with limited resources, to provide the best care possible.

One Bite at a Time

So how do we approach these takeaways? There is an old riddle, “How do you eat an elephant? Answer: “One bite at a time.” But as Colleen O’Rourke, senior VP of naviHealth’s Clinical and Network Solutions, accurately observed in the iAdvance Senior Care Points article, the challenges are so interrelated that no single problem can be fixed in isolation.

But there is a big bite that can be taken.

“Solving the most audacious problem first, reimbursement, could have a domino effect and provide inherent improvement to the others,” O’Rourke says.

But there is also something else missing in the NASEM report.

Where is There Anything About Data?

Nothing in the above seven findings says anything about data. Considering all that has been said about data in the media addressing senior care as of recent, including this blog’s recent series on key performance indicators (here, here, and here), the report warranted a quick review.

A brief search yielded it in Chapter 9. NASEM devoted the entire chapter to health information technology, focusing almost exclusively on patient care. That’s great. This is why we are ultimately here: to improve care for seniors at all levels, as well as those in long-term post-acute care.

But Are We Missing Something Else? Something Just as Important?

Perhaps we are. The senior care industry is also a business, and as such, it needs to operate as intelligently as possible. This means the data on the business side of senior care is just as important. Patient care and outcomes are important. But it is also important for senior care entities, including long-term care and senior living to operate as a business. They need to because, as we have said many times in this blog, the population of seniors who require services will only grow in the coming years. It’s demographics, pure and simple. Those who deliver senior care are the front line in addressing a growing challenge in the years ahead.

The senior care industry needs to let the data show them how to make the smart decisions: scheduling, staffing, the allocation of assets, building census, patient mix, what services need to be offered, and much more.

When leadership and management can look at the data and interpret it accurately, they get a better insight into their operation. And that’s what it is all about. It is about running a smarter health care operation that meets the needs of the residents, getting reimbursed fairly and promptly, and operating in a manner that is sustainable over the long-term.

This is Where CareWork Comes In

CareWork specializes in bringing together all the data centers and presenting them in a format that is easy to understand and interpret. Regulators like CareWork because reports are quick and easy to understand. Leadership in senior living and post-acute care, SNFs in particular, like CareWork because the data helps them make smart decisions about staffing, patient care, growing census, and all of the other facets of a well-run operation.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? It is about running a solid business where leadership is not constantly scrambling. It is about a smooth-running operation where all staff are focused on their job, and they know what counts. CareWork helps you run a more efficient operation. We help you focus on the work of care, and not how to address the latest business challenge.

CareWork’s software platform pulls together all the data silos in your operations, whether you are a skilled nursing facility, assisted living or memory care community, or continuing care retirement community. CareWork provides leadership and management teams the ability to see vital information and make the best decisions.

Interested? Call us today or visit our website.

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