Steven Littlehale
Steven Littlehale

Current use, and perhaps misuse, of Five-Star Nursing Home Ratings place significant emphasis on achieving a three-star overall rating, which requires stable performance in survey, staffing and quality. How can providers maximize their investment dollars to achieve this? 

The answer is never as simple as merely hiring more staff to earn five stars in the staffing domain. Instead, providers can realize measurable improvements in staff effectiveness and efficiency when analytics are built into the foundation of a Quality Assurance Performance Improvement program. 

In a recent study, we identified three national skilled nursing corporations and categorized them as “high,” “medium,” or “low” users of analytics in their QAPI programs. We then measured change in Five-Star ratings overall, along with each of the domain composite scores. 

Organizations with the highest utilization of analytics had the most improvement in Quality Measure scores over a three-year period. There was a remarkable average increase of 0.8 stars. 

This same group had the smallest increases in staffing levels. They used low-cost analytic tools to create a data-driven environment that improved staff competencies. At the other extreme, low utilizers of analytics did not have the same net improvement despite also increasing staff.

How can providers achieve better results even if they have relative low staffing?

Applying analytics to both clinical and operational practices enables providers to make more informed and proactive decisions the first time around. With increased intelligence, you can reduce risk that might not have been apparent without analytics. Furthermore, through thoughtful organizational improvement, care planning and resident care conversations, providers have a much better chance of achieving superior outcomes. 

Low-cost, predictive analytic tools yield not only a sizeable return on investment dollars, but also a significant impact on Five-Star scores.