With fewer hospitalizations and fewer referrals, it’s more important than ever that skilled nursing facilities know where their patients come from and how they can best serve them.

But an annual report designed to help long-term care operators see how they stack up against the competition shows that many are are struggling to transform data into actionable information.

“We have noted that SNFs either don’t have the data necessary to make decisions, or they have adequate data but lack the understanding to interpret it,” wrote the authors of CliftonLarsonAllen’s 32nd Edition of the Skilled Nursing Facility Cost Comparison Report. “In extreme cases, SNFs are paralyzed by the overabundance of information available.”

The ‘audit, tax, and consulting firm released its latest report last week, collecting more than 800 million data points from 2016  financial and operations information taken from 15,000-plus skilled nursing facilities nationwide. It is intended to help leaders make strategic decisions concerning solvency, cost efficiencies and profitability.

Many SNFs are “approaching insolvency,” CLA reports, unable to use information about operations to jumpstart turnarounds.

While benchmarking can be a first step toward organizational improvement, CLA said SNFs will need to do more than compare themselves against other not-for-profit or private facilities in their geographic region.

“Referral partners will continue to guide a greater percentage of their referrals to high-quality, low-cost providers with a proven track record of producing good outcomes for their residents,” the report said. “The 2016 data supports this perspective, (showing) that the variation in performance is growing wider, with low performing SNFs experiencing substantially lower year-over-year performance metrics.”