The LTC Provider’s Playbook: Q2 2022 Edition

Solutions for Tomorrow from Long-Term Care’s Outsourcing Services Giant

In this quarter’s Provider Playbook, we analyze solutions that empower long-term care operators to better handle staffing issues. This includes looking at ways to better manage cash that will be needed to react to announced Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) initiatives to require minimum staffing levels in nursing homes.

Alarm Bells Continue to Ring Over Staffing

Procuring skilled workers is an ongoing issue in many industries, but is most pronounced in skilled nursing. Many have proposals for possible solutions, from policy researchers to operators with a boots-on-the-ground perspective.

A recent study conducted by Harvard’s David Grabowski and Brian McGarry argues that one of the key solutions to aiding the current issue is simply money. Federal money needs to flow freely into SNFs to allow operators to hire more physicians, nurse practitioners, and other clinical and support staff. The Provider Relief Funds were a good start, but CMS needs to step in and help facilities with what is forecasted—a continued period of greater staffing costs and mandated demand for more skilled workers.

The White House recently announced a set of initiatives from CMS that propose establishing minimum staffing requirements and specifically references the benefits of increasing registered nurse care time in the nursing home.

“Increasing registered nurse staffing by just 20 minutes per resident day was associated with 22% fewer confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 26% fewer COVID-19 deaths.”

Better-staffed facilities with fewer part-time or agency workers have also been tied to fewer COVID cases, a finding that will likely apply in the post-COVID world to other respiratory infections.

A robust roster of skilled staff and specialists is an investment that has lasting power. The present use of agency workers to meet minimum staffing numbers is a revolving door of workers plugging a leaking hull. Think about tomorrow today, and what you want your facilities to look like. Familiar faces who create relationships with residents and can spot health issues before they worsen are essential to improving care outcomes in an increasingly value-based system. 

It should be clear to operators that hiring skilled nurses is a better investment with long-term impacts than what has been evidenced by filling gaps with part-time workers hired through an app an hour before their shift starts.

Think of the long game. Preventative care improves patient quality of life, improves facility quality scores, and thus, your reputation.

Enhance Accounts Receivable & Collections For Improved Cash Flow

Calls to improve staffing are widely regarded as positive, however, there remains the question, How do I pay for more skilled staff with revenue tied to CMS reimbursements?

One answer lies in your collections and accounts receivables team’s processes and bandwidth. What you don’t know and aren’t able to account for can hurt you. One example is the constant changing of regulations. Every change increases the complexity in billing, as well as opportunities to stay on top of payments. Without dedicated staff and experts who are constantly reviewing changes, it is likely that operators are missing out on opportunities to accurately bill, which can result in delayed or missed revenue.

Ongoing training is one solution to ensure your back office billing staff are maximizing reimbursements, thus improving cash flow that can be used to hire skilled staff, improve facilities, or offer better resident experiences. Finding or training creative, skilled specialists in accounts receivable (AR) and collections can do just this.

This need for qualified staff may require identifying external experts that can help provide greater oversight. With the right staff in place, back office administrators can eliminate the work required to recoup aged accounts by having dedicated experts tracking claims until they are paid out in full.

Enhancing your back office’s technology also improves its ability to track aging accounts and stay on top of claims until they are settled in greater detail. Some proprietary software solutions implemented by dedicated AR and collections outsourcing services like LTC Ally have direct data pipelines to collections software used by facilities that update in real-time.

These solutions enable operators to prioritize and follow claims with the greatest vigilance possible. These backend services are critical to having the cash flow needed to pay staff, operate efficiently, and experience peace of mind, knowing that your financials are in order.

Ancillary Review and Cash Flow Management for Improved Financial Health

In many mid-sized companies, eliminating wasteful practices, improving efficiencies, and optimizing processes can result in improved financial health and security. Analyzed with a fine-tooth comb, discrepancies in vendor fees, for example, add up month-over-month. Regular review of ancillary costs often highlights irregularities. Correcting these irregularities is integral to properly managing cash and ensuring that your facilities have the resources and funds necessary to operate efficiently and effectively.

Facility owners must have back office experts knowledgeable in best practices around cash flow and financial management. Things change rapidly in the world of long-term care (LTC), even when there aren’t novel viruses driving new CMS initiatives. Dedicated cash flow management and financial experts offer an additional level of support that can improve bottom lines and offer increased insight and transparency into processes.

Many operators are opting to outsource their financial management to specialists like LTC Ally. Outsourcing back office processes of your long-term care facility to specialists expands your staffing bandwidth and brings on board highly trained experts who scrutinize transactions. This hyper-focused management of the flow of cash to vendors, utilities, and payroll, improves balances.

Today’s Solutions for Tomorrow’s Long-Term Care Industry

Improving billing and collections processes, cash flow, and overall financial health puts skilled nursing and LTC facilities on the path to greater operational freedom. With the peace of mind that these areas are in order, operators can more readily allocate resources into hiring critical in-house staff or expanding the services their facilities offer. 

Without the right staff or partner with proven back office outsourcing specialists, operators risk a shaky financial foundation that can hinder all areas of operations—including staffing. The benefits of outsourcing these critical back office functions includes gaining access to a team of experts with both breadth and depth in experience that most operators cannot cultivate in-house.

LTC Ally’s dedicated specialists can take on any back office process in your long-term care or skilled nursing facility, ensuring every item and service is billed accurately and on time, increasing reimbursement turnaround, and procuring the best payer contract rates.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, LTC Ally helped facilities successfully navigate changing regulations and coordinated, reported, and applied for various stimulus programs on behalf of our clients, improving cash flow and delivering greater financial security. These benefits allow our partners to expand their portfolio and take on new facilities. Our growth advisory services have been vetting facilities, completing licensures and certificates of need in dozens of states since 2006. Whether you’re ready to achieve optimal financial health or grow your portfolio, LTC Ally can help.

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Founded in 2006, LTC Ally serves the long-term care industry with an unbound dedication to improving back office and financial operations. With a mission to reduce burdens and increase peace of mind, LTC Ally set out to revolutionize the way facilities handle their revenue cycle management. With a full suite of financial, case management, and contracting solutions for healthcare providers, LTC Ally is your partner in long-term care and skilled nursing.

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