Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) strive to maintain optimal occupancy rates for financial stability, maintain experienced staff and thus deliver quality care. Data-driven census, staffing and referral dashboards are “game-changers” in this pursuit, empowering administrators and staff with real-time insights of occupancy and staffing trends, patient demographics, and other metrics, giving them a tangible advantage over other SNFs.

This article discusses how integrating live and meaningful analytics can save time, improve admissions, ensure the delivery of quality care, and ultimately maximize your SNF’s census.

The Role of a Census Dashboard in Skilled Nursing Facilities

A census dashboard offers live reports that influence operational and care decisions. This centralized dashboard displays real-time data on the daily census, patient admissions, re-admissions, payers, LOS, discharges, and referral maps. Successful operators review census data several times per day.

Referral targets and care categories are set in real-time, so newly qualified admissions are made as residents are safely discharged.

Census analytics supports this discharge and new admission balancing with high degrees of accuracy. By understanding SNF’s live census, operators have clear goals for proper clinical care staffing and required referrals. Components of successful census dashboards include:

displaying census data from official government organization

  • Strategic Insights: Facilitates the analysis of data trends over time, enabling administrators to make strategic decisions about staffing, resources, and patient care.
  • Proactive Management: Assists in supporting data-driven, proactive responses to census changes, potentially triggering staffing and referral decision-making.
  • Census Alerts: Provides important alerts on census changes.
  • Enhanced Communication: Acts as a census workspace, ensuring all staff are aligned and respond uniformly
  • Reduces Administrative Time: Automates data collection and reporting processes, reducing time and data entry errors.

The ultimate goal of a robust census dashboard is to accurately alert managers of census changes, which in turn trigger proper staffing and referral management events.

Essential Features of an Effective Census Dashboard

A successful census dashboard should possess specific features that enhance usability and functionality. These features ensure that the dashboard provides critical data and supports efficient facility management.

Integration Capabilities

  • System Compatibility: Ensures seamless integration with existing electronic health records (EHRs) and administrative systems to synchronize data across platforms without manual intervention.
  • Data Aggregation: The ability to pull and consolidate data from various sources provides a holistic view of the entire SNF operation.

User-Friendly Interface

  • Intuitive Design: An easy-to-navigate interface that allows users of all technological skill levels to access and understand data effortlessly.
  • Customizable Displays: Offers customization options to tailor the dashboard to meet the specific needs of different users, from nursing staff to C-Suite.

Robust Security Measures

  • Data Encryption: Employs strong encryption methods to secure sensitive patient data against unauthorized access.
  • Access Controls: Implements strict access controls, ensuring only authorized personnel can view or manipulate the data.

A census dashboard can become an invaluable tool for skilled nursing facilities by prioritizing these essential features. It can facilitate better data management, enhance operational efficiency, and improve patient care.

share sensitive information for site research

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Census Dashboard

While SNF Metrics already has a census dashboard available today for SNF operators, some choose to build their own. Creating an effective census dashboard involves careful planning, development, and implementation. Here’s a detailed guide on how to build a census dashboard:

Planning and Design

  • Identify Key Metrics: Determine the most important metrics to track, such as occupancy rates, patient turnover, and length of stay.
  • User Needs Assessment: Engage with potential dashboard users to understand their needs and expectations, ensuring the dashboard effectively serves its intended purpose.

Development and Testing

  • Select the Right Tools: Choose software tools and platforms that support robust data integration, real-time updates, and secure data handling.
  • Build and Test: Develop the dashboard iteratively, incorporating user feedback at each stage. Ensure thorough testing for functionality, usability, and security.
  • Iterative and On-Going Development: Create a Census Development Task Force where all levels of the SNF operation are included. The Task Force makes continuous and ongoing recommendations for dashboard optimization.

Implementation and Training

  • Deploy the Dashboard: Integrate the dashboard into the facility’s daily operations. Ensure it is accessible to all relevant staff and securely integrated with other systems.
  • Provide Training and Support: Offer comprehensive training for all users to ensure they are comfortable using the dashboard. Set up ongoing support to address any issues or questions


Accurate and timely census insights are an SNF operator’s staffing and referral requirements indicator. As census remains steady, so does staff–and referrals can be chosen with more attention.

As census declines, successful operators catch that insight quickly and make the necessary adjustments across a facility, a region or their entire portfolio–with just a few “clicks.”

SNF Metrics’ census, staffing, and referral analytics are existing platforms that 2000+ operators use daily. Operators can partner with SNF Metrics or build their census management platform. Regardless of the tools, better census management leads to proper staffing levels, referral requirements, and overall financial viability.