Data proves to be the right prescription for a healthier bottom line

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Russ DePriest
Russ DePriest

A headline from an article in the Economist earlier this year read “The world's most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” It struck me as so applicable to our market. Every day, it seems, there's discussion in the news about the changes affecting the healthcare industry. 

This is a pivotal moment for the entire sector. With reforms pending, decision makers at skilled nursing facilities specifically, are faced with trying to understand how to address and prepare for upcoming changes in a way that empowers them, enables them, and helps them to remain profitable – without compromises to care or to quality.

It's a big challenge to embark upon. Providing quality care is neither simple nor singular in its focus. It means providing quality services to residents, but it also means maintaining a quality business that is thriving, legally compliant, risk managed, and not only understands its data, but can effectively communicate its results. Ultimately it's about ensuring a high quality of life for residents at all times.

So how does an organization tackle this, particularly when many skilled nursing facilities are cash strapped, and face both significant challenges and a rapidly changing landscape?

They start with what they know.

And everything they know is a result of the mined, examined and then acted upon data.

Simply put, no data means no proof. No evidence of effective and successful care planning, no record of quality of care.

So understanding data and managing care accordingly is how providers need to operate. Here's why:

  1. It will define who the preferred providers will be in the ever narrowing care network. Data plays a crucial role in helping providers clearly understand what they're good at and what they aren't. The more information that is available, the better it is for any organization. Once that data is mined, providers can leverage it like currency to understand strengths and attend to weaknesses, such as readmission issues or episodic care planning. It can also enable them to focus efforts accordingly with the right ACOs and payers. All of this helps better position a provider to align and maintain relationships with the right industry partners as well as to stand out from the competition.

  2. It will shorten, if not accelerate, the path to revenue. An ability to leverage data enables a team to make well-informed and timely business decisions. Using data translates to reimbursements becoming more predictable, new payment models easier to manage, and billing for services seamless. But perhaps the most important reason for mining data is that predictable and reliable payments ultimately mean a healthier bottom line.

  3. It will help to manage and reduce risk. Litigation and noncompliance are serious issues in the skilled nursing facilities industry, costing the industry millions of dollars each year. Access to accurate and real-time data can help to keep a facility compliant, profitable and operational. Avoiding negative outcomes that can arise from these risks is always better for any organization's profitability and reputation.

  4. It will help to build loyalty through better experiences. Improving quality outcomes means better experiences for your residents, your staff, and with your partners. Data enables facilities to get to know residents on a deeper level and provide a person-centered approach that leads to better quality care. These kinds of experiences are more meaningful for both residents and caregivers.

In this industry, data is the new currency.

In order for organizations to properly focus their efforts, it's necessary to have the right tools in place to help you understand your data and manage care accordingly.  Quality matters now more than ever and technology is the most significant way a facility can bring it to life. As the industry shifts from volume to value-based care, the right tools and solutions will make the difference, separating out the winners from the losers and intelligently channel efforts into the right areas to foster better business results.

Critical decisions need data, otherwise providers will stumble blindly and haphazardly—certainly not the best way to deliver quality care.

Russ DePriest is Senior Vice President and General Manager for PointClickCare's Skilled Nursing Division. PointClickCare will be at the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo showcasing its leading electronic health record (EHR) platform, and talking to providers about how they can leverage technology to prepare and manage the shift from volume to value-based care.  Visit the team at booth #601 to learn more.

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