This article is sponsored by Real Time Medical Systems. In this Voices interview, Skilled Nursing News sits down with Real Time COO Laurie Obitz to learn about the top challenges that SNFs are facing in 2022 — and how they are using technology to solve them. She also shares insights on the growth of provider-led I-SNPs, and how Real Time helps care providers improve response time.
Skilled Nursing News: Laurie, what career experiences do you most draw from in your role today as Chief Operating Officer at Real Time Medical Systems?
Laurie Obitz: Having spent the last 20 years in health care IT working across various care settings, I draw invaluable experience from helping people get the most out of technology solutions. My technical background, coupled with my health care experience, has enabled me to have a deep understanding of what is most important to the users to help them easily adopt new technologies.
Today, as we work to advance Real Time’s post-acute analytics platform, we want to ensure that we are providing facilities with time-efficient solutions that do not create more burdens on staff or require duplicate data entry. By pulling live data out of the electronic health record, Real Time is able to provide clinicians and administrators with live, actionable data to improve clinical, financial and operational outcomes.
As the health care environment continues to shift toward value-based care initiatives, it is important that nursing facilities remain an essential care setting within the continuum. At Real Time, with our focus on the skilled nursing community and our support of health systems — ACOs, payers, I-SNPs — I think developing easily adoptable solutions that can provide data transparency across care settings is going to help us grow as a holistic health care community.
Here in the new year, what is the top challenge that you see for SNFs and how are SNFs using technology to tackle that challenge?
Obitz: The top challenge we’re seeing now is the turnover in staff, which leads to agency nurses coming in and out of SNFs. That environment presents unique challenges for creating consistency in protocols and processes that can be quickly adopted to maintain patient care.
One key way to solve some of those challenges is having tools in place that enable nursing staff to immediately obtain clinical insights into each patient’s care. By accessing live clinical insights, from data pulled directly from the EHR, we help nursing staff, including agency staff, understand what the patient or resident needs that day, as well as to be able to transition quickly from shift to shift.
I-SNPs have seen significant growth over the past few years, specifically provider-led I-SNPs. What do you think is contributing to this growth?
Obitz: One major contributor to this growth is the opportunity to better serve the patients in their care. There has been a year-over-year increase in Medicare beneficiaries choosing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans versus traditional fee-for-service. On average, SNFs have more patients that fall under an I-SNP, and I think those providers want to be able to align their resources and have that opportunity to gain efficiencies when they actually are provider-owned I-SNPs.
Another contributor is the growth in value-based care programs. By providers owning their own I-SNP, they are able to align their care initiatives to value-based programs, enabling them to have end-to-end oversight of each patient’s care and ensuring quality outcomes are met.
How is Real Time working with I-SNPs to achieve these value-based care initiatives?
Obitz: This is an area that I’m really excited about. We’ve seen a lot of growth and enhancements on how we’re working with I-SNPs, especially on value-based care initiatives. We now have the ability to personalize our solution and deliver immediate insights into the data that is most important to the I-SNP and patient population.
To ensure we are meeting our customers’ goals in delivering a time-efficient solution, our users only need to access the platform for about five minutes each day to retrieve the most critical information they need to support each of their facilities. Our readmission risk scoring dashboard and report allows them to easily identify which patients are at highest risk for readmission and prioritizes the patients according to risk. This ensures care teams at the facilities are rounding to these patients first to avoid potential rehospitalizations.
We also see them using our tool on the weekends and on call to ensure members are getting that appropriate care. They can then intervene if the patient starts to decline. Over the past year and a half, we have added infection surveillance and control reporting, which helps not only with showing patients at risk of infection but also antibiotic stewardship. They can therefore see which providers are ordering antibiotics and the length of time that patients have been on the antibiotics, allowing them to proactively manage patient needs.
What do you see as the biggest challenge that I-SNPs are encountering?
Obitz: I mentioned that high staff turnover and use of agency nurses is a challenge for SNFs. This has also had a significant impact on I-SNPs. Agency staff coming and going can lead to gaps in communication and documentation, which may cause response times to decline, ultimately impacting the outcomes of both the patient and the I-SNP.
What we have been hearing from our customers is that Real Time has been able to help bridge these communication gaps, as well as enable administrators and directors of nursing to be more consistent with facilitating documentation processes among agency nurses. By providing a holistic clinical picture of each patient’s care and immediately alerting staff when a change in condition occurs, clinicians are better equipped to treat the right patient, at the right time.
You mentioned response time, and how that’s been a significant issue. How is Real Time helping I-SNPs overcome this challenge?
Obitz: In addition to our standard, cloud-based platform, Real Time launched a notifications app, which can be accessed via smartphones or tablets. The new app gives users immediate access to the most important keyword notifications and other alerts in our portal, allowing them to quickly respond and intervene in care before an adverse event occurs, such as rehospitalizations.
We’ve seen an increased use in our Real Time Notifications app, especially over the weekends. By having these alerts at their fingertips, 24/7/365, they are able address care needs when significant issues occur, such as a fall, critical lab results, or vitals moving in an unfavorable direction. They’re able to use that app wherever they may be, on whatever device, and start to intervene in care, contacting the nursing home to improve the situation.
With staffing challenges, our portal report has been able to keep the I-SNP nurses and NPs informed, revealing when a given patient has a new issue. They’re starting the conversation rather than requesting full information from a staff that’s very busy getting acclimated. We have seen issues arise when there is no network to provide support, because a patient may be transferred out to a hospital. That can be really stressful, not only for the members of the I-SNP, but also patient families.
Finish this sentence: “The skilled nursing industry in 2022 will be the year of…”?
Obitz: It’s the year of rebuilding and connection.
You may view this article on the Skilled Nursing News website, here.