Reports highlight challenges for nursing homes while opportunities abound with telemedicine

Two reports surfaced this week that showed the very real challenges that skilled nursing facilities face across the country.

The first report, from the accounting and advisory company Marcum LLP, concluded that the average nursing home in the United States lost four cents per patient day in 2017, down sharply from making $3.80 per resident every day just four years before. While the exact figure varied by region, the national average shows the impact of persistent industry stressors.

An analysis by the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the nation’s largest nursing home trade, found that skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) taking care of a larger proportion of Medicaid beneficiaries have lower quality ratings. Based on a sample of more than 13,600 SNFs, AHCA found that Medicaid census and quality are inversely related. Medicaid often underpays for services.

So what does all this mean, especially for rural nursing homes?

There are more than 15,655 skilled nursing facilities with 1.7 million beds across the United States. Roughly one-third of these facilities are located in small towns or rural areas that face challenges easily accessing high-quality primary and specialty care services. The majority of these residents rely on Medicaid.

Finding ways to improve medical outcomes, helping residents and patients get healthy and stay healthy, and implementing systems that drive quality are essential.

That’s where unique telemedicine models like TapestryCare™, which is specifically designed for rural nursing homes, can help.

TapestryCare™ gives rural nursing homes a comprehensive medical team and a dedicated nurse practitioner supported by a full-scope multi-specialty medical and behavioral health group that integrates with attending physicians, nurses and care teams, even doing regularly scheduled rounds --- all at no cost to rural facilities.

Having daily virtual access to an on-site medical team helps to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations when medical conditions change. Dedicated practitioners get to know the patients as much as the staff. Consistency of care improves health outcomes.

Most importantly, TapestryCare™ helps to boost Medicaid rates, so the facility gets credit for all the care it delivers. The telemedicine program actually increases care and documentation which can drive up CMI and reimbursement.

TapestryCare™ even helps facilities improve and maintain Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quality and rating measures, especially as regulations governing long-term care change.

So not all the news is bad. There are real opportunities, especially rural skilled nursing facilities, to embrace technologies that can help improve outcomes and redirect savings into even more quality care.