How should long-term care providers celebrate? Let us count the ways

James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Long-term care operators have plenty of reasons to recoil and lick their wounds over the course of a year. But there are also good times when they should find reason to smile. Like this past week.

A major mantra lately has been that data is the new currency. As in, “He who can cite his (good) performance statistics will be a wealthy provider.”

This is quite true, especially with post-acute providers' need to make better partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers. Everyone needs to prove themselves as worthy members of a club nowadays, whether the club is an accountable care organization, bundled arrangement or other network.

Numbers make the provider. Self-derived statistics, frankly, are the evidence for any case a provider wants to make.

But there is also another source of numbers that might often get overlooked. That's why this past week has been pretty good for the nursing home crowd. This is according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services itself.

As my colleague Emily Mongan reported Tuesday, CMS has just released a new batch of data that say nursing homes are getting better than ever. Oh, lies, damn lies and statistics can be used to torque any set of data in any skeptical direction. You would expect nothing less when it comes to cynical government or public judgment of the long-term care sector.

But providers must pull themselves up by their bootstraps and look further. As Emily's report notes, since 2008, the number of nursing home surveys showing one or more health deficiency has been on the decline.

And the percentage of nursing home surveys that were deficiency-free? Get this: It rose by a net 16% from 2009 to 2014. That means roughly 1,500 straight-A facilities overall.

I don't know about you, but none of my professors were expecting, or giving, straight A's when I was in college. So is this reason for the LTC profession to take heart? I'd say so.

Let's take it another step. The percentage of surveys finding substandard quality of care fell by a huge proportion from 2008 to 2014. First of all, there were just 4.4% to start with in this category. That amount fell by 27% — to a net 3.2%. Of course 0% is the ultimate goal, but let he who is 100% problem-free be the first to start tossing boulders around.

All of these numbers come from a 251-page report entitled “Nursing Home Data Compendium 2015 Edition.” It is rich, as in full of vital statistics, and honed to the profession you toil in.

This is a gold mine of data — and costs you nothing to access.

You want benchmarks? They're in this report by the hundreds, if not thousands. You can gauge your performance against national and in-state marks in dozens of categories.

You get enough bad news during the year. You owe it to yourself to check out this publication and find something that can help you spread the good word. In one form or another, it's in there.

James M. Berklan is McKnight's Editor. Follow him @JimBerklan.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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