Long-term care providers should not focus too narrowly on whether proposed efforts to weaken federal staffing mandates will be successful, industry experts warned Tuesday.
Health Dimensions Group CEO Erin Shvetsoff said that no matter how the proposed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rules ultimately change, they will likely become more regulated going forward. It is expected that
“We continue to see this administration really pushing for higher regulations and higher penalties when it comes to skilled nursing facilities, and this is going to be pushed into our state as well,” she said. she said during a forecasting trends webinar created by the company.
Paul Brannin, HDG’s vice president of business development, argued that nursing homes need to proactively address these issues in the lead-up to 2024.
“[Solutions] It should be implemented regardless of whether a final staffing decision is made,” Brannin outlined his recommendations to SNFs. “Overall, there is a challenging operating environment for skilled care providers, but there is an opportunity for success for those who are committed to quality care and overall improvement.”
Experts spoke candidly about both the challenges and opportunities facing skilled care providers and revealed what the industry will look like in the coming year.
Alarmingly, 94% of nursing homes nationwide currently fail to meet at least one of the three staff time requirements in CMS’s proposed minimum staffing rules.
Meeting these requirements would require 100,000 new full-time employees nationwide and cost SNFs nearly $7 billion annually. This is especially burdensome given that the workforce has already shrunk by 210,000 people since the coronavirus pandemic, said HDG executive advisor John Capasso. This labor bloc is unlikely to recover until 2027.
Brannin identified three key strategies to address the changing employment landscape in 2024. Staff retention paid off from the start.
“What are you doing to retain your staff?” he asked. “Are we surveying them? Are we asking for their input? Are we implementing the recommended changes?”
He also emphasized pursuing new technology as a way to streamline workflows. Mr. Shvetsov supported this recommendation.
“[New technology] It helps us monitor changes in profiles and vitals, respond quickly to clinical needs, and support staffing needs,” she said. “What tasks can we replace with technology so that the talent we can hire can handle the volume and acuity of people coming to us?”
Finally, Brannin recommended outsourcing or centralizing administrative tasks as much as possible to ensure care workers have time to continue focusing on residents.
“Revenue cycle management is one area that can be completed off-site relatively easily, allowing communities to spend more quality time caring for their residents,” he explained.
Collectively, experts agree that the key way to navigate current market challenges is to look holistically inward and maximize efficiency, rather than expanding hastily outward in search of new profits. We agreed that it was about finding innovative ways.
“When you think about growth… it’s most important to take a holistic approach,” Brannin said. “Growth brings new revenue, but what are the reputational, regulatory, and financial risks associated with this growth?”