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Long-Term Care: What is Your Data Telling You?

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Long-Term Care: What is Your Data Telling You?

The current trend of looking at the data in SNFs and long-term care facilities has been a long time coming. More administration and managerial leaders are embracing the concept. The pandemic and its aftermath have compelled us all to be more resourceful. As “data evangelists,” we at CareWork applaud this shift.

But the industry still has some catching up to do. One of the gaping voids we seek to remedy through CareWork is where the data is. The manner in which this industry embraced technology resulted in a siloed approach to how facilities store their information.

Bottom line: You all have a lot of information; it just doesn’t live in one place. It is difficult to see the big picture.

What if The Data Was Centralized?

Here are three examples of how a centralized data would help you save money, and give you better outcomes:

Data Can Help Better Manage Overtime

There is a nationwide shortage of qualified employees in the industry. This means increased costs in overtime.

The person doing your staff scheduling knows there are certain employees always willing to take shifts. Even though the company has scheduling tools in place, it’s quick and easy to schedule the same people over and over again. Because of this, the facility is over budget and leadership teams don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late. The unintended consequence of giving all these hours to one or two people is that they get overworked, the resulting exhaustion leads to employee burnout, or worse yet, increased chances of an accident or a serious error with a resident.

If leadership teams had an easy way to view predicted overtime based on real-time hours worked and scheduled, they could get ahead of the behaviors impacting the budget.

With a centralized view of all employee schedules, schedulers could see that other employees have light schedules and might jump at the overtime. By spreading the load, employees are better rested, not burned out, and there is less risk of employee dissatisfaction because you weren’t sharing the overtime evenly.

The downside is still there: you’re still paying the overtime. The upside is that you are doing it smarter. You are chipping away at overtime dollars and preventing potential accidents caused by overworked employees. Morale is better, too, because everyone feels like you’re sharing the overtime wealth.

Better Data Means Better Resident Outcomes

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in residents are a common problem in ALFs. Not detecting them in time means they become acute. There is an ambulance trip to the hospital, staff time to manage it, disruption of other residents, possible readmissions, and more.

You can avoid much of this.

By seeing a centralized census and the percentage of residents suffering from UTI’s, you can detect trends. An assisted living community I am familiar with took just such a centralized view. Among the things their health director saw was better outcomes for a specific group of residents with UTI. She did a little more digging and found that nearly all those residents had the same health insurance. That insurer provided a visiting nurse who came weekly and was readily available by phone. Those weekly visits meant that UTIs were detected and treated earlier. There were fewer trips to the hospital, fewer readmissions, and better resident outcomes. The visiting nurse also passed on some training to employees on how to avoid UTIs.

The health director spoke to the family members in charge of those residents prone to more serious UTI problems. She described the advantage of the other insurance company’s visiting nurse program, stressing that their loved one would remain in better health and not suffer the dangers of a severe UTI. The families of several residents made the switch and within weeks there was a noticeable decrease in UTI problems among the resident census.

All this because the health director started looking at multiple factors from a centralized point of view.

Using Data to Increase Census

A centralized view of your data can also allow you to see trends at the very beginning, or even how to spot a trend. Your admissions officer might see an uptick in the admission of short-term residents needing a week or two in post-acute recovery from a knee replacement. A phone call to a nearby hospital leads you to the realization that many orthopedic surgeons are busy because so many hospitals stopped elective surgeries during the pandemic.

Now you can identify programs and skills that you can implement with minimal cost to accommodate these residents, including adding additional physical therapy resources and implementing a pain management program. Then you can reach out to surgeons and hospitals and let them know you offer this program. And because CareWork offers predictive analytics, you can model a resident and fine tune how you charge for this service.

Better yet, armed with the knowledge, you can also scour admissions data to spot other trends such as hip replacements and foot surgeries. Now you have new populations to target, and you can increase resident census.

Data Will Set You Free

These are just a few examples of the economies and savings that can be found when you see all the data. The trick is to be able to “look sideways” and see what others do not. Look for webinars and classes that you can send members of your leadership team to so that they can learn to interpret the information.

But having all that data in one place is the first step.

So how can we help? CareWork gives teams automated tools to increase quality, control costs, track compliance, manage labor, reduce waste, and get jobs done faster. The best part is we integrate with the systems you already use and give providers a straightforward way to manage operations in one place strategically. We make care work easier.

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