3 min read

It’s time for IT to step up and save the game!

By Prime Care Tech Marketing on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 @ 11:19 AM

IT must demonstrate its ROI in LTC nowIn the Spring of this year, I used baseball as a metaphor for the “game of Long Term Care.” At that time I said that providers were “going to have to step up to the plate and respond swiftly and powerfully to the curve balls of regulatory changes, the sliders of reimbursement, the change-ups of market pressures, and the fast balls of competition.” Little did I know at the time that the term, “sliders of reimbursement,” was going to be uncomfortably prophetic. Because of the drastic “adjustments” to Medicare reimbursement and declining Medicaid rates, the slider is real – a potential slide downhill, that is; they’re game changers. I would like to take the baseball metaphor one swing further.

A successful swing at the plate requires not only skills, talent, great vision, quick reflexes, good upper body strength, and sound judgment, but a solid bat as well, one that each batter can handle comfortably and confidently. It’s the tool that hitters rely on. In the case of LTC, the “bat” I am referring to is IT (information technology). And it’s time for IT to prove its worth as a tool to identify savings without cutting quality and to prevent unnecessary revenue leakage through automated tools and processes.

Savings – the IT Infrastructure

Let’s start with IT itself. Article upon article and one study after another have clearly identified that the “cloud” offers the scalability, flexibility, reliability, and savings that other methods of IT deployment may not offer. Cloud-based computing means lower initial costs and TCO, because all IT-related procurement, maintenance, management, and upgrades are handled remotely. Further, the cloud’s monthly subscription-based model enables providers to use their capital for other critical areas of their business. Earlier this year, the CIO Consortium identified that, “Reasonable, five-year costs to deploy currently available EMR technology and eliminate paper records range from $254,000 per facility for third party hosted solution (italics and color added for emphasis), $259,000 for vendor hosted Software as a Service (SaaS), and $356,000 for an in-house hosted solution.” Clearly, now is the time to carefully consider the cloud as a solid source for immediate and long-term savings.

Real Savings through IT Tools

What specifically does IT offer that will help providers identify savings, stop revenue leakage, and ensure that they are in compliance with regulations? The answer is automation - automated claims management to stop revenue leakage; automated MDS and RUGs reporting; automated procurement to make sure that purchases are per contract pricing, timing, and quality; automated labor management; and automated real-time Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting.

Automated claims management helps providers not only to generate, review, edit, and transmit claims, but to identify and act immediately on issues when and where they occur. This includes incorrect claims codes, codes changes and regulations, missing codes, poor communication between clinical and billing staff, poor pricing practices, and inefficient and ineffectual internal review processes.

Automated MDS and RUGs reporting lets providers identify facilities most "at risk" with poor survey performance; discover how each of their facilities ranks among its peers; pinpoint facilities which are operating below or above critical primary care staffing levels; detect residents/patients who are clinically at risk; observe the financial impact of MDS submissions by facility, region, and corporation; scrutinize QM/QI’s at a facility, region, or corporate level, and analyze reimbursement rates (RUGs).

Automated procurement involves complete commerce automation (purchase orders, invoices, and product and contract maintenance) and reporting with intelligent direction and feedback for procurement decisions.  It connects multiple facilities, satellite locations, and branch offices to the vendors, products, pricing, delivery terms, and service providers carefully negotiated and selected by their parent company. Automation allows flexibility and customization for each corporate entity to support their partner selection, the business rules negotiated with each partner, their internal G/L structure, and their purchasing chain of command.

Automated labor management gives providers the tools necessary to manage and control that which amounts to almost 60-70% of a provider’s spend – labor. Automation offers applicant tracking, time and attendance, payroll, and human resources management. Not only can providers reduce costs wisely, but also increase productivity.

Automated real-time Key Performance Indicator (KPI) reporting, or a digital dashboard, translates into business intelligence, which to LTC providers means they can quickly analyze and act on census levels, admissions, and discharges; labor hours and costs; and receivables and collections. Armed with this incredibly valuable information, providers are able to monitor how well they are saving money and increasing revenue in real time and take action, when necessary, with surgical precision.

Summary

IT through the cloud will not only help providers survive, but ultimately win, by confidently hitting whatever is thrown at them out of the park.

Topics: long term care business intelligence dashboard cloud computing IT infrastructure Key Performance Indicators Data Mining human resources automated claims management automated procurement labor management MDS RUGs revenue leakage cloud-based computing
3 min read

5 Ways to say "BI" to Labor Pains - Manage Your Workforce Effectively

By Prime Care Tech Marketing on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 @ 07:40 PM

iStock 000011593639XSmall resized 600

Introduction

“Oh, please! What does a man know about labor pains?” Yes, absolutely nothing, no matter how much empathy a man like me may have. But that is obviously NOT the “labor pains” implied in this blog’s title. The labor pains I am referring to apply to such agonies as overtime, being expensively above or dangerously below the daily labor budget, staffing with and paying for contract labor, such as pool or registry nurses, and any other discomforts that are related to the day-to-day staffing and operations of a long term care facility. How can providers leverage Business Intelligence (BI) to help relieve them of their “labor pains?” Let me suggest five ways.

Solution

1. Have the right tools

In today’s demanding environment of downward reimbursement pressures, increased regulatory scrutiny, and competition within the clinically-skilled labor market, having the right automated Applicant Tracking, Time & Attendance, Payroll, and Human Resources software applications is almost a necessity. Companies, such as Kronos, among others, offer innovative and easy-to-use integrated labor management packages, hardware, project management, and training to help you effectively manage your workforce.

2. Be able to input data efficiently and accurately

While time clocks have been the tried and true method for recording employee time transactions, today’s technology offers increased accuracy and accountability. These include badge and biometric terminals, telephone time entry solutions (TTE), and handheld devices which give you access to your employees no matter where they are at any time. These devices deliver direct data feeds to your time and attendance applications automatically and securely.

3. Be able to gather data intelligently

With the right software combined with the right employee time collection devices, you have the system to gather, process, house, and distribute data that not only help you with payroll, but also with Business Intelligence. The right tools will help you plan for and obtain useful information. Going beyond the traditional end-of-pay-period reports to real-time, as-it-happens information requires thorough planning and preparation. A data collection plan will help you prepare for the processing of and publication of useful information.

4. Be able to convert data into actionable information

This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road for Business Intelligence and Analytics. According to a CIO.com article entitled, Business Intelligence Definition and Solutions, “Business intelligence, or BI, is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.” The key benefit to BI is that managers and executives can monitor KPIs in real time. Where do you start? Analyze how your team makes decisions and the information needed to make and implement the best decisions possible. The decision-making discussion will drive how you structure BI. For example, one of the main advantages to BI is that it offers context. With BI you not only can discern right now what is going on, but BI can also offer budgetary, historical, and projected performance context. Trending is a valuable influencer in the decision-making process. These and other considerations can help you build a data warehouse with the flexibility to meet today’s demands and tomorrow’s possibilities.

5. Be able to communicate information

BI does not readily make your company a better one, just better informed. The key to BI being truly effective is getting the information readily to those who need it at the operational level to improve business practices. But that may require a major re-think about the sharing of information, a fundamental business practice paradigm. While good BI tools are scalable, the actual realization of the power of information must be decided at a very human level across the entire organization. Start with understanding your key business processes and determine the “who-needs-to-know” and accountability parameters.

Conclusion

Ultimately, once you start down the “BI-way” of information collection and dissemination, there’s no looking back. BI not only informs businesses, it transforms them. In what shape that transformation finds itself depends on the skills and strengths your team players.

In summary:

  • Employ the labor management tools that are right for your organization.
  • Be able to input data efficiently and accurately using today’s employee time-tracking technologies, such as badge and biometric terminals, TTE, and handheld devices.
  • Gather data intelligently starting with a workable data collection plan.
  • Convert data into actionable information, including consideration for how your team makes decisions and the informational context that BI offers.
  • Communicate the information to the operational level of your organization.

For more information about PCT’s hosted Labor Management solution, click here.

Topics: business intelligence human resources employee time tracking devices data collection plan