One principle is certain in skilled nursing and that, unfortunately, is change. Today, caring for our seniors couldn’t be more intense. Covid-19 devastated both our seniors as well as their care-givers. Policy-makers imposed regulatory restrictions that the industry suggests have limited impact on care quality: Nearly 850 pages of new CMS-imposed guidelines went into effect late last month. The industry is seeing an unprecedented number of ownership transfers and facilities forced to close their doors due to economic hardship. Top SNF organizations are in an on-going clinical staffing crisis with nearly 30% of SNFs reporting critical staffing challenges. Additionally, hospitals continue to report high levels of extended occupancy as many SNFs report having low staff volumes to take their recovering patients.

In light of ongoing and new challenges facing SNF organizations, what are today’s top habits that contribute to strong, successful SNF operations?

Habit #1 – Staff Appreciation

We have never seen so many heroes at all levels of a SNF operation going above and beyond for resident care, resident safety and just working hard to make a strong community committed to doing the right thing. SNF Operators—embrace the leaders and staff at all levels of your organization. They have led you through one of the most challenging times in senior care, and now that we are through the worst of it, it’s time to appreciate their commitment. Even when they may be challenging you for higher wages, less overtime and a better working environment, time and again recent studies show a significant contributor to staff retention is simply recognition. One of my personal favorite types of appreciation is seeing executives and owners visiting facilities. Recently I saw on LinkedIn an owner showing up with his personal barbecue grill and cooking lunch for the entire staff to show his commitment to them and appreciation for what they do day in and day out. There are many simple ways great SNF operators show their appreciation and inspiration. Get creative!

Are there certain behaviors and habits you want to see embodied in your employees? The best and most efficient way to change behavior is to relentlessly lead by example. Successful operators demonstrate discipline, set the work ethic and establish the culture of their entire organization. When staff can see what good looks like and they can also witness a match between what you say and what you do, changes in attitude and behavior will follow. It may not happen the first or second time, but with commitment and continued leadership, the ship will turn. Want your team to embrace new innovative ideas and technology into your operation? You better embrace it first!

Habit #2 – Healthy Accounting

Nothing else matters if your Accounts Receivable personnel and systems are not aligned and maximizing your collections. Top operators “live and breathe” AR as a way to pay staff well, improve care and perpetuate healthy SNF operations. In recent interviews, top operators point to live and interactive software systems such as SNF Metrics’ that integrate multiple software systems together for fast, real-time insights. Quickly share billing concerns to top managers, reduce incidence of untracked residents, take control of managed care reimbursements, manage co-pays in a timely manner, reduce bad debt expenses and maximize PDPM payments.

Habit #3 – Census and Referrals

SNF Operators who are successful are passionate about resident census. Recently, our industry saw a trend similar to what we traditionally have only seen from our Assisted Living friends-structured divisions of sales and marketing professionals dedicated to community outreach and education. Today, SNFs have many more opportunities for health system partnerships, Medicare Advantage participation as well as our standard hospital admission relationships. Successful operators are adding census management tools and building teams of professionals to help them share their “top notch” clinical care, safe and comfortable senior living experiences.

Habit #4 – Spot Your Trends Early

Lessons from other industries point to the need to collect, analyze and quickly respond to what the data trends say is occurring or about to occur in our operations. In a SNF, that umbrella covers both management operations as well as resident clinical care. SNF systems download data into multiple data sources every second. Successful SNF operators employ tools to unlock that data—and build trust in that data—to make informed decisions. SNF Metrics provides unique data insights that maximize operations. One interesting note from conversations with operators is—an operator that employs data-driven management must drive staff at all levels to embrace this approach. Just having data analytics tools has no impact if it is not utilized by all levels of an SNF operation-starting with ownership. SNF data holds the answers to great care, census development and much more. I’ve even read recent articles where some SNF Operators place their CIO in a more important capacity than their CEO. This will be an interesting trend to watch in 2023.

Habit #5 – Risk Management

Recent history has mandated that successful SNF operators take risk management head-on. SNF operators face internal challenges, resident/family/legal challenges as well as more pressure from CMS–most recently new risk regulations related to abuse and neglect. Today, top operators are building entire risk management teams to control risks, reduce costs and lower insurance premiums. Risk management software applications and risk reports from SNF Metrics direct SNF operators where their risk exposures are occurring and mitigate those risks quickly. Additionally, top habits of top operators are that they are overseeing these new risk operations personally. Software can make this oversight simple, accurate and provides confidence in the entire SNF operation-from legal, investors, C-suite, staff and of course residents and families.

SNF Metrics provides savvy SNF operators with Apps and Analytics to drive the most critical facets of their operations in 2023 and beyond. Apps and Analytics that oversee clinical, census, staffing, AR, managed care contracts, pharmacy auditing tools, and risk management with more in development. Simple to use, simple to integrate at simple prices. Leaders that embrace our innovative tools perform better than those that do not, and we have the proof. Contact us today to learn how.

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