If you own or manage a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), you most likely already rely on a variety of software tools and technologies to help you manage day-to-day clinical and operational tasks. However, as you can imagine, there are software tools that boost productivity and others that drain in.
It all comes down to how well the products you use integrate, and how well they can be adjusted to your processes and staff. It is not a secret that each SNF operates slightly differently, and these little differences sometimes result in the same software product succeeding in one place and failing in the other.
How can a facility improve productivity?
Let's use an EMR and a billing program as an example. The EMR that has an integrated billing software can save you time. However, what if that built-in billing package is not as good as another stand-alone product which, unfortunately, does not integrate with your EMR? Are you winning or losing if you opt to use the stand-alone one? Yes, you can bill much more efficiently and produce any report your management needs, but the census changes are not integrated, and you have to spend time manually reconciling between systems. Did your productivity go up or down? Many facilities use multiple software products for information they are gathering or tracking. Trying to connect the dots can be time consuming and overwhelming, especially if these products don’t talk to each other. Interoperability between systems remains a persistent problem even with all the technology advancements.
Historically, software vendors preferred to create barriers to information sharing, and for the most part, have had a “siloed” approach to the data they were holding. This is starting to change with CMS proposing new rules (https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/cms-advances-interoperability-patient-access-health-data-through-new-proposals), but unfortunately, it still is a reality many facilities have to deal with. These barriers can be limiting, and a real nuisance, but there are solutions. From specialized products such as Approved Admissions Bridge (https://www.approvedadmissions.com/bridge) to Robotic Process Automation tools such as UiPath (https://www.uipath.com/), organizations have several out-of-the-box options when it comes to establishing bridges between systems from different vendors.
For example, at Approved Admissions, we have been able to configure comprehensive connectivity to most leading EMRs and billing software products using our Bridge product, and can add new ones in a matter of just a few days. Facilities that are using products from multiple vendors, and are not utilizing some sort of integration product are losing out on the value the technology can bring.
When technology is integrated, the benefits are distributed throughout the system - from productivity improvements for staff, faster response to resident’s needs to avoidance of potentially deadly for residents mistakes, and positive impact on the overall bottom line. More time is left to enhance the overall experience for residents, and with better experience come higher occupancy rates and less staff turnover. Another advantage of an integrated system is an ability to provide families with valuable information about residents through precise data that can be tracked.
However, integration is not the only way to improve productivity in a facility. Automation has also firmly established itself as a time-saving approach.
The value of automation comes from its ability to have relevant data available wherever and whenever necessary. From Microsoft’s Flow, Logic- and Power Apps to Robotic Process Automation and AI, a whole new industry is starting to emerge. This industry is focused on improving productivity by replacing repetitive tasks with pieces of software code that perform these operations much more efficiently and without human interaction.
Facilities should avoid any software products that do not support interoperability with other systems and require manual data transfer. These products will drain your productivity and inhibit workflow.
Wherever possible, choose tools that provide the flexibility to work from anywhere and streamline communication. If a similar tool exists as a SaaS (or Internet/cloud-based) version and an on-premise installed version, always try to opt for the cloud one. Unless you have the necessary staff to support a variety of servers and redundant locations in a HIPAA-compliant environment, you will almost always be better off letting a software vendor worry about that.
The way you implement technology, and how you choose the software products for your facility is extremely important. Quality, speed, ability to integrate with others, built-in automation, and user adaptability are all factors to consider when choosing a new product. With the right one, you can boost occupancy, increase productivity, and decrease human error. The wrong one can lead to loss of efficiency, issues with staff retention, and in the worst case, loss of life for residents amongst other problems.
Leading Skilled Nursing Facilities around the country are employing products such as Approved Admissions Bridge and UiPath to automate and empower their business processes. If you are interested in learning more, or are looking for a recommendation for your facility, please get in touch with us.