Nurses are the frontline of resident care – they spend more time at the bedsides of those in their care than most other healthcare team members. No one knows better than a skilled nursing professional that the best way to achieve better outcomes is to maximize direct contact with each resident. With a focus on individual needs and preferences, nurses can improve quality of care and life for their residents.
Staff nurses aspire to provide the best care possible to their residents, but are often frustrated by a lack of time, resources and autonomy.
Here are three ways your healthcare facility can help your nursing team to be more productive and elevate resident care.
1. Ensure adequate staffing
Making sure that your facility is staffed appropriately is a crucial element to providing high-quality care. Not only does inadequate staffing adversely affect your star ratings, it can overwhelm your nursing staff and result in unsafe care. With optimum staffing levels, your nurses are empowered to provide excellent resident care.
2. Equip nurses with the right tools
Frontline nurses need easy-to-use and readily accessible tools and resources to boost their autonomy and confidence in delivering evidence-based care. Make sure they have:
• Standardized checklists for assessments
• Actionable data to prioritize care
• Access to resources that expand their knowledge base
• User-friendly technology that promotes regulatory compliance
3. Simplify workflows
In today’s healthcare environment, it’s all too common for nurses to feel pressure to increase productivity and report a high administrative workload. Creating more efficient workflows is a frequently overlooked way to give nurses more time to focus on resident care.
Examine current workflows and look for “time-eaters.” One of the easiest ways to improve nursing efficiency is to reduce manual processes. Look for user-friendly technologies and applications that help nurses streamline their workflows and make more efficient use of their time.
Don’t miss the next blog article in this series to learn best practices for nurturing collaborative nursing!
Have you heard how skilled nursing facilities are simplifying quality management? Check out ABILITY CAREWATCH, the easy-to-use application that’s truly elevating resident care.
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and CAREWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
Being a nurse is a hard, often thankless job – and with the World Health Organization (WHO) designating 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife – we want to do our part to help you show your nurses how much you appreciate them.
How are you showing your appreciation?
Ask 10 nurse managers the No. 1 way they show their employees appreciation, and you will probably get 10 different answers.
Managers often believe they’re doing enough simply by saying “Thank you.” Others buy food and treats for their teams or send them gifts. Some hospitals have elaborate rewards and point systems.
All those things can work to some degree. However, what most nurses want – and need – to feel truly valued has much more to do with the culture of your workplace and your effectiveness as a leader.
If you really want to show your appreciation, start here:
Create more work/life balance
Nursing is a challenging, emotionally draining job, and nurses need time to get away from it all and refresh.
Master your staffing process so that you can avoid erratic schedules and overtime. Plan carefully so all your nurses can take vacations. Do your best to accommodate them when they request days off.
A nurse scheduling application can be a game changer in this regard, because it will grant you and your team more visibility and enable quicker and easier shift management.
Grant nurses more control and autonomy
Studies have shown that a lack of control at work is a significant cause of stress. Nurses are carrying so much stress anyway, and on top of that, so much of their time at work is unpredictable. They can’t control how many patients come in or the severity of their illnesses or injuries. However, to take care of patients, they must follow policies and processes to a T.
Offering them more control when possible can be a mental and emotional booster, and a clear-cut area where you can do that involves the schedule.
Many organizations are offering self-scheduling for nurses. However, even if you aren’t ready to commit to that route, you can enable them to volunteer for shifts and swap shifts as needed.
Offer real-time feedback
For praise or constructive feedback to be meaningful, it must happen in the moment, not days, weeks or months later.
When you see someone struggling or you catch a mistake, offer guidance immediately. Few things are worse than finding out months down the road, like at the annual evaluation, that your performance was lacking all along. Help them improve by offering support and guidance when they need it.
On the flip side, when you catch nurses doing something great, tell them right then and there. And enable your nurses to commend one another. In-the-moment and peer-to-peer recognition is more impactful and motivates nurses to keep up the good work.
One tool, three ways to show your appreciation
ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler is a cloud-based application that streamlines nurse staffing and supports a stronger workplace culture.
1. Manage and update your schedule from your phone, to ensure shifts are always covered – and nurses receive much-deserved time off.
2. Empower nurses to request time off, volunteer for open shifts and swap shifts with one another.
3. Use the Shout Outs feature to recognize employees in real time.
To see it in action, request a demo of ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler now.
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
As quality of care takes the forefront of how skilled nursing facilities are evaluated and reimbursed, nurses increasingly face more complex challenges. They are caring for higher acuity residents, dealing with heavier workloads and trying to keep up with the latest healthcare regulations and practices.
Nurses are key to improving quality of care and outcomes. They can contribute valuable insights into how to best manage the care of your most vulnerable residents. One of the most impactful ways to elevate resident care is to support the professional growth of your nursing team.
How professional development impacts quality and retention
Professional development opportunities enable nurses to grow in their practice and enhance their ability to provide safe and effective care. Healthcare organizations that support and invest in the professional growth of their nurses will not only enhance resident outcomes, but also boost job satisfaction and improve retention rates.
Even with limited resources, your organization can take a variety of approaches to improve staff competencies, promote professional growth and help nurses stay at the top of their game.
- Establish a career ladder program
This will give your nurses a roadmap for career advancement and incentivize professional development.
- Provide resources for continuing education (CE) courses
Encouraging your nurses to stay updated on evidence-based practices and the latest clinical developments will promote higher quality care.
- Offer in-facility competency development
Staff in-services, “lunch and learn” sessions, preceptor workshops and real-time coaching are all convenient and effective ways to advance skills and knowledge.
- Consider an on-site LPN to RN program
By having participants in the program commit to a specific length of employment with your facility, you can proactively promote nurse retention while advancing professional growth.
- Provide tuition reimbursement
Financially supporting the educational advancement of your nurses not only elevates resident care, it also lets your nurses know you value them, encourages them to stay and attracts new employees.
Stay tuned for our next blog post in this series where we’ll share strategies for empowering your nurses!
Find out how your facility can drive better care and outcomes by watching this short video.
ABILITY and design® and ABILITY® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
Until just a few years ago, patient payments were not necessarily the highest priority for healthcare organizations attempting to capture more revenue. Today, though, patient financial responsibility has risen enough that patients are now significant payers. And, if you don’t want to leave money on the table, you need to prioritize patient payments.
With the prevalence of high-deductible health plans, gaps in Medicare and Medicaid coverage and other factors, patients’ out-of-pocket expenses are significantly higher than in previous years. As a result, patients may actually be less likely to pay without some encouragement or assistance.
So, how can you navigate this new landscape with its emphasis on patient payments? Here are a few strategies to help.
Patient payment processes impact the overall experience
According to recent data, half of patients surveyed said they did not pay their bills after a poor billing experience.1 When patients don’t understand what they owe, or if they have a bad experience during the payment process, they are more likely to give up on paying their bill than put themselves through more work and headaches.
At the same time, if you make it simple and convenient for patients to pay, they’re more likely to fulfill their end of the bargain. Presenting patients with easy-to-understand patient statements that show them what they’re paying for can be very effective in helping patients pay what they owe. And, when you make that process even easier – with 24/7 access to online payment options, electronic patient statements and direct links to your payment portal – you can capture even more patient payments without taking up precious billing staff time.
Enhance billing efficiency with a single platform for all payment options
As patient financial responsibility has risen, billers have had to spend more and more time chasing payments and reducing patient bad debt. This is where a centralized approach to patient payment services can help enhance your business office efficiency and improve the patient payment experience at the same time.
Healthcare organizations spend a significant amount of time and resources sending patient statements and following up on outside balances. With automated patient payment processes and a single platform for all your patient payments, you can save time and energy.
Just because patients have a larger financial responsibility doesn’t mean that you have to spend more time chasing their payments or devote a lot of labor to reducing patient bad debt. Instead, centralize and automate your patient payments, so you can chase less and receive more.
For more information on an end-to-end patient payment platform with enhanced patient statement services, schedule a conversation with an ABILITY patient payments expert today.
1. ”How Patient Experience in Billing Offices Impacts Patient Statements,” Sarah Heath, Patient Engagement HIT, Accessed April 4, 2020. https://patientengagementhit.com/news/how-patient-experience-in-billing-offices-impacts-patient-payments
ABILITY and design® and ABILITY® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
Capturing patient payments presents a significant challenge across healthcare markets. How can you collect more revenue without spending precious billing staff time chasing patient payments?
When it comes to paying their bills, your patients and their loved ones expect a certain level of convenience and flexibility. Other industries give them options, like online bill pay, automated payments, and the capability to use their preferred form of payment (e.g., debit cards, credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.).
You can do the same! With a few simple strategies around your patient statements, you might be surprised how much more cash flow you can achieve.
Integrate your patient statements and patient payments
According to a recent study, 61% of healthcare consumers say they would switch providers for a better patient payment experience.1 You can give them that experience, and collect more payments, when you integrate your patient statements and patient payments services.
Think of how much more likely patients will be to pay their bills when they can receive email statements and click a link directly to your patient payment platform. Plus, you can enhance billing efficiency with a single source for all your patient statements and payments.
Help patients understand what they owe
Take a look at a traditional patient statement. You may understand what most or all of the language, codes, and charges mean, but your patients probably don’t. And, when patients don’t understand their statements, they may be less likely to pay.
You can solve this issue with updated, patient-friendly statements that help your patients and their loved ones easily understand what they owe and how to pay.
Outsource print-and-mail patient statement services
Whether or not you offer electronic statements, you will likely have patients who still prefer to receive print statements. While you can perform all your print-and-mail statement services in house, outsourcing can free up billing staff time and save money on mailing resources.
In addition to potentially saving on the cost of physical resources, like stamps, envelopes, and printing, outsourcing these services gives your billers back precious time to perform tasks with a higher return on investment.
Are you ready to see how ABILITY SECUREPAY and ABILITY Patient Statements can help you get paid faster and reduce patient bad debt? Request a demo today!
1. “3 ways to empower patients and improve collections,” Physician’s Practice, accessed April 7, 2020, from https://www.physicianspractice.com/medical-billing-collections/3-ways-empower-patients-and-improve-collections
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SECUREPAY® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
We’ve been hearing it for weeks: Stay at home, social distance, avoid close contact with others, all in an effort to curb a global pandemic. The rules are a bit different for healthcare providers.
In addition to pandemic-related illness, people will continue to require medical care for a variety of reasons. As a provider, you’re challenged to protect your staff and your patients and still provide quality care.
Enter telehealth services.
With telehealth services, patients receive care (or a broad range of other services) from their providers without traveling to a healthcare facility. Even before the emergence of COVID-19, these services were gaining popularity from a convenience standpoint. In our current state, they have become an essential part of a provider’s revenue cycle management strategy.
Supporting your revenue cycle with empty waiting rooms
To help providers continue to care for their patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has made allowances and broadened access for telehealth services.
- Under the 1135 waiver, patient eligibility for telehealth services will no longer be limited by location
- The originating site requirement is eliminated
- Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other limited license practitioners can provide services
Telehealth makes it possible for providers to operate and collect revenue without face-to-face office visits. Even HIPAA enforcement has been relaxed and penalties waived for providers operating in good faith.
Getting started with telehealth
Regulatory changes aside, you may wonder how to begin offering telehealth services through your practice. Questions about which platform to use, how to collect patient copays and how to capture the correct insurance ID (or MBI for Medicare beneficiaries) can seem overwhelming without the appropriate tools.
Once you decide which platforms to use, you’ll need to communicate this new option to your patients and ensure that your staff is knowledgeable on how to operate them.
To support an efficient workflow for your staff, ABILITY Network offers powerful applications for eligibility verification (including tools that return patient MBIs), Medicare claims management and patient payment collection, to keep your revenue cycle moving.
For the foreseeable future, telehealth services will be essential to keep your practice moving forward. Partnering with a single RCM provider like ABILITY can help simplify the journey.
To learn more about telehealth services, don’t miss this on-demand webinar presented by medical practice management expert Kem Tolliver.
Skilled nursing facilities across the country have been working tirelessly to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19. At the same time, facilities also should be setting protocol in place to respond to a COVID-19 infection. More than 400 skilled nursing facilities have reported at least one case of COVID-19, and those reports are escalating at dramatic rates.1 Being prepared to deal with infected residents and staff can be the difference between isolated infections and a COVID-19 outbreak that impacts residents and staff on a large scale.
Responding to a COVID-19 infection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all skilled nursing facilities have a COVID-19 response plan in place2 as part of their preparedness plans.
According to the CDC, a SNF’s COVID-19 response plan should include:
- Processes for isolating residents who have or who are suspected of having COVID-19, including assigning staff to care only for those residents, creating a designated triage area and providing infected residents with bedrooms and bathrooms that separate them from the rest of the SNF residents
- Transmission-Based Prevention protocol for caring for those with COVID-19 or other respiratory infections
- Identification of spaces within the facility that can be used for COVID-19 response, including triage, isolation and Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms (AIIRs) for patients who require aerosol treatments3
- A process for transporting residents who are infected with, or who are suspected of being infected with, COVID-19
- Contact procedures for alerting local and state health officials to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19
- Communication plans for alerting residents, staff and families to the infection and plan for containing the infection
- Protocol for monitoring residents with respiratory infections
- Plans for monitoring and applying work restrictions to infected or exposed staff
- Processes for screening and testing all residents for signs of COVID-19 or respiratory infections
Tracking COVID-19 in your facility
Your COVID-19 response and SNF infection prevention protocol also should include keeping careful track of staff, resident and visitor data. Your facility should be known and suspected infections, as well as respiratory infections with unknown causes, steps taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and the effects of prevention protocols.
To help track COVID-19 cases, instances of respiratory infection and infection control protocol requirements, ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH provides the tools you need.
1. Khimm, S., Strickler, L. “Nursing homes overwhelmed by coronavirus: ‘It is impossible for us to stop the spread’.” NBC News. April 1, 2020. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nursing-homes-overwhelmed-coronavirus-it-impossible-us-stop-spread-n1174171
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/novel-coronavirus-2019-Nursing-Homes-Preparedness-Checklist_3_13.pdf.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.” Accessed March 24, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
To make sure skilled nursing facilities are doing all they can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would be stepping up inspections.1 Additionally, inspections will focus in particular on infection control protocols. How prepared is your skilled nursing facility for an inspection?
Evaluate the likelihood of an inspection
While it is always important to be prepared for an inspection, some skilled nursing facilities are likely to face increased scrutiny due to their inspection or violation histories. Facilities likely to be evaluated include those that have or require:
- Complaints expressing infection control concerns
- Immediate jeopardy complaints
- Allegations of abuse or neglect
- Recorded infection control deficiencies at the immediate jeopardy level in the last three years
- Histories of lower-level infection control deficiencies
- A statutorily required recertification inspection
- Necessary revisits to resolve previous inspection issues
- Initial certifications
Preparing for a CMS infection control inspection
To ensure that your facility is prepared for a CMS infection control inspection, first and foremost, you should review your infection control protocol and verify that all measures are being followed by your staff. You also should be reviewing your facility’s data to ensure you are meeting government requirements.
What to check
- Recent respiratory infections where the exact cause of the infection was not identified
- Respiratory symptoms reported for infections that both met and did not meet McGeer criteria
- QAPI initiatives implemented to prevent outbreaks
- Transmission-based precautions implemented, including type and length in previous respiratory infections and their effectiveness of controlling infection spread through your facility
- Staff and visitor infections
Help in following CMS infection control protocol
As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in the United States, skilled nursing facilities are dedicated to following infection prevention protocol – and instituting additional infection control measures. Keeping track of the data and performance control measures necessary to monitor potential infections and meet CMS guidelines can be a challenge. ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help you track infections and CMS data to protect residents and stay compliant. Find out how.
1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “CMS Announces Actions to Address Spread of Coronavirus.” CMS.gov Newsroom. Accessed March 30, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-actions-address-spread-coronavirus
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
The news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak changes rapidly as new cases are detecting, new communities are affected, governments enact preventative measures and the medical community looks for treatments. Within your skilled nursing facility, timely communication with staff and residents, and residents’ families, is critical in helping to stop the spread of the disease and maintain calm. Sharing information effectively and quickly becomes even more important if a case is suspected or confirmed within your facility.
That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that skilled nursing facilities have a communication plan1 in place as part of their COVID-19 preparedness. Your plan should allow you to quickly share up-to-date information on COVID-19 prevention, as well as to rapidly inform residents, staff and families of a COVID-19 infection.
As you evaluate the effectiveness of your COVID-19 communication plan, you should consider:
- Whether you have the infrastructure in place to quickly share important information about COVID-19 with staff, residents and their families
- How you can respond to the CDC’s COVID-19 updates and share that information with your SNF community
- How you can verify that staff and residents have received and understood important information regarding COVID-19
- The evaluation of your staff’s ability to put COVID-19 safety measures into place after those measures have been communicated
- How communication fits into your COVID-19 emergency response protocol
The CDC recommends the COVID-19 communication plan for your skilled nursing facility goes beyond simply disseminating printed materials. You want to be sure that your residents, staff and community are receiving and responding to the important information you share. Staff should undergo COVID-19 safety training, residents should be educated on the measures they can take and your facility should have an educational library your residents and staff can turn to as a resource.2
Your skilled nursing facility plays an important role in monitoring and sharing information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you have a plan in place that will allow you to effectively share relevant COVID-19 information.
Tracking data related to the COVID-19 infection can help your facility respond to potential cases of the disease. Find out how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor infection and infection response data.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Preparedness Checklist for Nursing Homes and Other Long-term Care Settings.” Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/novel-coronavirus-2019-Nursing-Homes-Preparedness-Checklist_3_13.pdf.
2. Wilkins, D. “Coronavirus: Is your senior living facility prepared for a widespread outbreak?” McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. March 5, 2020.
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared skilled nursing facilities “ground zero” in the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to monitor and control the spread of the virus within SNFs, CMS this week released new reporting requirements for COVID-19 infections.
The new infection reporting protocol are based, in part, on recommendations from the American Health Care Association and Leading Age. The two industry groups had called on skilled nursing facilities to report COVID-19 infections in a more timely manner.
Under the guidelines, SNFs must:
• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any positive COVID-19 cases within the facility within 12 hours
• Inform residents, as well as their families and representatives, of any instances of 3 or more respiratory illnesses within the facility within 72 hours
• Update residents, as well as their families and representatives, of COVID-19 infections and mitigation efforts weekly
• Report cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
• Continue to meet requirements to report infectious diseases to state and local health departments
• Fully cooperate with all CDC efforts to monitor the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 reporting tools
To assist skilled nursing facilities with meeting the new requirements, the CDC will provide SNFs with a reporting tool. According to CMS, the reporting tool will be an important component in collecting national COVID-19 data to monitor the spread of the virus and coordinate infection response. Any COVID-19 data collected through the new reporting program will be made publicly available by CMS.
“Nursing homes have been ground zero for COVID-19. [This] action supports CMS’ longstanding commitment to providing transparent and timely information to residents and their families,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Nursing home reporting to the CDC is a critical component of the go-forward national COVID-19 surveillance system and to efforts to reopen America.”
Improving your infection control program
Skilled nursing facilities can get additional help in monitoring COVID-19 symptoms and control efforts with ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH. This helpful application allows SNFs to enhance their infection control programs while adhering to all CMS requirements. Learn more about how ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH can help your facility monitor COVID-19 prevention efforts.
Source: “Trump Administration Announces New Nursing Homes COVID-19 Transparency Effort.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. April 19, 2020. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-announces-new-nursing-homes-covid-19-transparency-effort
ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY INFECTIONWATCH® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.