The Future is Bright for Skilled Nursing Facilities that Leverage Data

Falling occupancy, Medicare payment pressures, competition from home health services and a focus on length-of-stay management have driven demand for SNF services down since 2015, according to a recent article in McKnights.

However, as Plante Moran states “the future will be bright for facilities that can provide high-quality, cost-efficient care.”

“Providers that have aging physical plant or workforce challenges are most vulnerable. But those who can manage care well by episode (and track the data) and adopt flexible labor models will be best prepared for success…Skilled nursing facilities should target for a lower Medicare length of stay to become attractive partners with hospitals. With a strategy of lower length of stay, a skilled nursing facility will need to increase marketing efforts to maintain optimal occupancy levels,” the report stated.

Providing high-quality, efficient care and selling it are two sides of the same coin. First, SNF’s need to understand how they stack up against the competition and then, they need to leverage that data to set them apart from their competition.

Below, some data elements that can help with those goals:

Define the Territory

Determine the service area for the facility being studied. The competitive landscape, availability/ease of transportation and patient mindset plays a huge role in determining how far loved ones are willing to travel to visit the patient. This can range from just a few miles in a major metropolitan area to as many as 25 miles in a rural setting. So, starting with a zip code group is the best bet.

The Medicare Hospital Discharges by Zip Code Report: Understand the number of discharges each hospital has for Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries living in these zip codes. It is quickly apparent which hospitals are most important from a marketing perspective.

Benchmark the Competition

Market Share Reports: View market share among the competitors over the most recent eight quarters available. This trending can show whether a SNF’s activity is on the upswing, downslide or staying the same. Differences in market share between the key metrics—discharges, census, days and reimbursements can highlight differences in patient mix and patient management.

Demographic Report: Understand ethnic, gender and age mix of the facilities studied which can also explain operational and financial outcomes.

Diagnosis Mix Report:  Assess the number of days which have billed based on the patient’s primary diagnosis, which usually is the reason for their nursing home stay. One can quickly see how competitors may be attracting more desirable referrals because of their clinical programs and expertise

Medicare SNF Discharges Zip Code Report: See Which facilities are competitors for the same geographic patients  and how long patients stay in the facility covered by Medicare.

SNF Discharge Site of Care Report: Discover where patients go upon discharge from the SNF. Of interest can be if a disproportionate number of patients are re-admitted to the hospital or if they are transferred to another skilled nursing facility. The former is clearly a significant selling point, and the later may be indicative of patient dissatisfaction.

Plan your Pitch

Clearly, the importance of using data cannot be overstated. Leveraging data will enable your agency to benchmark against the competition and successfully sell into your accounts.