Improving the quality of care available in nursing homes has been a stated goal of President Biden and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for more than a year. Steps toward that goal include the October announcement of a series of new actions cracking down on substandard facilities, highlighting new areas of emphasis, and prioritizing lower rehospitalization rates.
In his most recent Forbes article, Dr. Kenneth Scott, CEO and founder of SilverSage Management Services, focuses on three things nursing homes can do now to make improvements and increase accountability.
Start with the Leadership
Regardless of where individual facilities rank on their latest oversight surveys, Dr. Scott asserts immediate improvement can begin by changing the mindset and attitude of leadership. “One of the biggest problems healthcare institutions face today is the mentality of being reactive instead of proactive,” he says. Focusing on principles that don’t change—e.g., providing quality care to patients and supporting the facility’s workforce—forms the foundation of positive change.
Restructure Core Meetings
Reevaluating the focus of two key meetings—Quality Assurance Performance Improvement (QAPI) and Interdisciplinary Team (IDT)—is another way to generate adjustments. “Although the format of both the state/federal survey process is punitive in nature, your goal should be to change that experience to an educational one for your team,” Dr. Scott says. Reviewing past deficiencies on a regular basis will help prevent backsliding while also potentially bringing new weaknesses to light, allowing for proactive solutions.
Prioritize Readmission Rates
A main tenet of Biden’s program to increase accountability in nursing homes is to track their hospital readmission rates. A key to decreasing readmission rates, Dr. Scott asserts, is employing a full-time physician on staff at nursing homes. Among many additional benefits, full-time doctors can more quickly recognize and react to changes in a patient’s condition, often preemptively diverting the need for rehospitalization.
Dr. Scott notes that despite all the emotions involved, what patients and their families most want is to have a clear vision of their care delivered in a way that they both trust the information and maintain their dignity throughout the process.
To read the full Forbes article, click here.