In a fragmented healthcare landscape and evolving patient preferences, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have seen a decline in occupancy rates and an increase in financial pressure. It is particularly evident among physician-led SNFs, which have been hit with the double whammy of physician shortage coupled with reimbursement cuts. Fortunately, there are better days ahead for these specialty centers. In 2022, we’ll see more SNFs build on the last year’s progress: increasing occupancy rates, expanding services to improve care outcomes, and reducing clinical operations costs. Today, more than ever before, Americans are living longer. As a result of this shift in longevity, more people require assistance to live as they age. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are an important component of the healthcare system that helps provide this kind of assistance. In these establishments, patients receive short-term care services designed to meet their medical needs after hospitalization or if they can no longer stay at home due to illness or disability. This blog details what Physician Support Group (PSG) members can do today to help their SNF patients thrive tomorrow and learn how you can support your SNF patients, so they achieve the outcome that matters most: living independently at home on their own for as long as possible.
- Reduce Readmissions and Increase Patient Independence
Boosting patient independence is essential to reducing overall spending at SNFs. A study by the Department of Health and Human Services, for every $1 spent on fall prevention, an estimated $7 is saved. You can help improve your patients’ independence by addressing their underlying health conditions and providing hands-on guidance to promote wellness. Study after study has shown that patients who feel engaged in their care have better outcomes, including higher satisfaction and reduced readmissions.
- Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Make your SNF where patients want to be involved more than providing outstanding care. It also means creating a welcoming and positive culture where quality improvement is a core value and expectation. Wellness doesn’t stop at the door, so you’ll want to support your patients in making positive lifestyle choices. This might include menu and service innovations that make dining more appealing, along with programs to promote physical activity. For example, a positive culture and infrastructure can help you expand care services such as rehabilitation and fall prevention programs. It will help your patients improve their health and reduce the risk of readmissions and other adverse events.
- Reinvent Clinical Operations to Cut Costs
Healthcare is experiencing a paradigm shift from volume to value. As a result, reimbursement rates have been declining for several years. This presents a real challenge for SNFs that must balance providing high-quality care with reducing operational costs. To make your SNF more efficient, you can focus on improving your revenue cycle, implementing new technology, and re-examining staffing models. Growing revenue requires thoroughly understanding your financial picture, including the mix of revenue sources. For example, you can increase revenue by identifying patients who qualify for Medicare, Managed Care plans, or other coverage sources and referring them to these payers. Growing your Medicare population can help offset the decline in payment rates by increasing your revenue.
- Cut Costs by Improving your Billing and Collections Processes and Implementing New Technology
New technology can help you improve operational efficiency and patient outcomes, reduce costs and provide better service. You can look for technologies that help boost safety and enhance the user experience. It might include automating tedious tasks, providing a more personalized experience, and enabling remote monitoring and communication. Hucu.ai is a HIPAA-compliant telehealth software that allows healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely.
- Reinvent Nursing and Clinical Operations to Cut Costs
You’ll also want to reduce your clinical operations expenses to reduce costs. To do this, you’ll want to re-examine your nursing models, such as the type and number of nurses you employ. Innovating your nursing models can help reduce costs while maintaining high-quality care. It might include changing your staffing mix, implementing scheduling optimizations, and promoting team-based care.
- Be the Trusted Advisor for your Patients.
Preventing readmissions and improving outcomes is essential to retaining your SNF patients and increasing occupancy rates. However, it’s equally important to earn the trust of your patients. This will help you keep patients and expand your referral network. You can improve your communications to earn your patients’ trust, particularly with patients outside your facility. You can use technology, such as Hucu.ai patient-centered messaging apps, to engage patients and provide timely information. You can also improve communications and earn trust by proactively managing patient expectations, particularly around discharge. This can include providing timely and transparent communication through real-time secure video conferences, text messaging about the discharge process, and suggestions for post-discharge support. You can also help your patients prepare for discharge by providing helpful information and ensuring they receive the care they need.
- Get to Know your Patients Better.
Improving communications and increasing patient engagement is essential to improving outcomes, but you also want to know more about your patients. To do this, you can implement an electronic health record (EHR) system that allows your patients to view their health records, manage appointments, and communicate with providers. By investing in an EHR solution that engages patients and empowers them to manage their care, you’ll gain access to richer data to inform your care delivery. Hucu.ai is fully integrated with electronic health records (EHR) and cloud-based secure data storage, easily accessible from anywhere.
- Implement Tools to Improve Care Coordination
You also want to improve care coordination to reduce readmissions and improve outcomes. This may include engaging in care management programs, such as a discharge planning program, to help manage risks and improve health outcomes. For example, a discharge planning program can help you identify patients with conditions that increase the risk of readmission, such as a Stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcer. This program can also help you identify and provide resources for patients at risk of falling. You can also implement communication and collaboration tools, such as an EHR with care coordination and communication features, to improve your care delivery and patient outcomes. These tools can help you identify patients with high-risk conditions, such as a Stage 3 or 4 pressure ulcer.
Ultimately, the future of skilled nursing is bright, despite the challenges faced by physicians and their patients. Physicians can respond to these challenges by taking a strategic approach to building their practices and making the most available resources.
Did you know that today’s seniors are living longer than ever? The average American can now expect to live until they’re 84 years old. A consequence of this extended lifespan is that many Americans also require long-term care services in their golden years. This article explored the current state of long-term care services, the scope and importance of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and what physician groups can do to help support SNFs.
With Hucu.ai, you can securely communicate with network partners, patients, and approved patients’ family members in one universal system, in addition to using HIPAA-compliant instant messaging for facility internal communication. It can also be integrated into your EHR to boost your staff’s efficiency. It includes built-in features that simplify communication between staff/collaborators working in different organizations but caring for the same patients.