Providers just have to look for their bright spots

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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 sometimes they need to seek the light and resist the “woe is us” mentality.

On this even long-time operators agree.

Luckily, there's a clear path to optimism. It's all in numbers provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In late March, CMS released a batch of data that says nursing homes are getting better than ever. There are a lot of numbers in this report, so there's little doubt naysayers might be able to find a nit to pick here and there. (One would expect nothing less when it comes to cynical government and public judgment of the long-term care sector.)

But providers must pull themselves up by their bootstraps and look further. Since 2008, the number of nursing home surveys showing one or more health deficiencies has been on the decline.

And the percentage of nursing home surveys that were deficiency-free? 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. In addition, from 2011-2013 pressure ulcer prevalence plummeted from 10% to 5.9%. 

All of these numbers come from a 251-page report titled “Nursing Home Data Compendium 2015 Edition.” It is rich, full of vital statistics honed to your profession. This is a gold mine of data. Perhaps best of all, it costs 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. That's great.

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. 

It's in there — if you look for it.