Adapting to reimbursement changes.
Developing provider networks and partnerships.
Understanding costs and return on investment of emerging technologies.
Attracting and retaining staff.
An aging population is placing even more stress on already tenuous long-term care facilities. More than 12 million Americans depend on long-term care for everyday activities, according to the RAND Corporation. That number is expected to rapidly increase.
Part of the reason for the growing need for long-term care is that people are living longer and developing health conditions that require caregiving. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2020, the senior population will reach 56 million and by 2030, that number will balloon to 74 million. On average, more than half—52%—of people who turn 65 years old today will require long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to AARP.
“Seniors are more commonly preferring to age in place, leading to higher acuity levels at admittance,” says Robin Weimer, sales executive for Provista. “Their care is requiring a higher employee skill set and exacerbating employee burnout. Adaptability is the key to help resolve this challenge.”
$225B spent on long-term care in the U.S. in 2015.
52% of people turning 65 will need long-term care in their lifetimes.
14% of people will need long-term care for more than 5 years.
45% of people under 65 need long-term care help with two or more daily activities.
15.2% of people turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 will spend more than $250K on long-term care.
Containing costs in long-term care facilities is a constant and difficult challenge. A single year in many facilities can cost into the six figures per resident. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018, one year in a nursing home costs an average of:
Adding to the financial challenge are changing reimbursements, which effect facilities’ bottom lines. “Reimbursements equal revenue. Especially in skilled nursing facilities, reimbursements are the lifeblood of the business,” Weimer explains.
Finding and hiring qualified employees continues to be a problem for long-term care facilities. Even when good hires are made, it can be hard to keep them.
“Staffing within a tight labor market that is expected to get tighter is a challenge. This is affecting both front-line and more skilled staff as we reposition for higher and different acuity levels,” Weimer says. “Facilities are repeatedly challenged to hire and retain staff.”
Many facilities are staffing at minimal levels, including skilled nursing positions. Filling shift vacancies or covering for sick employees is often problematic. This type of environment can impact employee morale. However, job satisfaction for long-term care workers can improve when employees have the right resources to feel safe, valued and empowered to do their jobs.
“Defined strategies to attract and retain employees really do reduce turnover,” Weimer advises.
Long-term care facilities must deal with a unique set of challenges. An aging population is putting more stress on facilities to meet residents’ medically diverse needs. Meanwhile, containing costs, keeping up with an industry-wide shift to value-based payments and filling staffing needs continue to be problems.
Cyber security is a concern in long-term care. Thieves are targeting the elderly who reside in long-term care facilities. These facilities, like many businesses, struggle to understand their exposure to cybercrime and manage their risk.
Long-term care facilities make some efforts to ensure their residents’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) is safe, but they need to do more. In fact, they are required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect their ePHI from threats, including cyberattacks.
Improving the IT infrastructure can help guard against breaches. It can also help facilities be better prepared to handle emerging challenges and better serve residents and patients.
“Technology doesn’t just run the business anymore—it’s integral to life and getting heads in the beds. Residents and their families expect immediate connections and access, not to mention employees’ expectations and the potential impact on recruiting employees,” Weimer points out. “The IT infrastructure is also integral to survival for rural long-term care facilities. They need to be the front-runners for telemedicine and new technologies.”
Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) can help overcome the problems plaguing the long-term care industry. “GPOs help facilities maintain focus on their expertise—caring for residents,” Weimer says. “We’re contracting experts who affect all areas of your supply chain. We help reduce costs by leveraging the vast collective buying power of many members for deeper discounts than can be achieved on your own. We watch your costs so you can stay focused on residents, their families and staff.”
GPO contracts include services for IT expertise, staffing and other pain points. Employee discount and savings programs help facilities retain employees.
“Staffing and IT contracts provide the best market pricing and options to help you adapt to changing needs and remain relevant,” Weimer notes. “The right GPO can produce monthly savings into the thousands of dollars—or more. Our Employee Discount Programs intend to help keep your employees happy and saving money away from work too.”