The tech trends across the healthcare continuum appear like a glass half full or half empty. 

If you are a forward- looking provider and have an agile and engaged team, you quite likely are excited and looking for even more changes. Your glass seems half full. However, if your 2021 experience with new technology has been problematic, your glass may seem half empty.

Returning to Equilibrium Will Not Be Easy

“With labor shortages, changes in the delivery of care, and cybersecurity threats, healthcare will embrace new approaches to risk management and turn 2022 into a year of opportunity rather than survival.” This is the challenge for those who see the cup half full and want to allow the innovation of enterprise risk management to fill the glass.

The Myriad Challenges

  1. Labor shortages – Understaffing and other workforce challenges have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and there is no immediate end in sight. The CMS waiver to training requirements for CNAs helped alleviate that area of shortage, but minimally trained CNAs are less able to provide competent care to clinically complex patients. Likewise, they are at greater risk for injury themselves from lack of training in body mechanics. Not surprisingly, there have been calls recently by various industry voices to end this waiver.

Vaccination mandates have further reduced the number of available staff, and some have chosen to leave their positions rather than accept vaccinations. Others have burned out from the stress of working longer hours, losing patients to COVID-19, and the barrage of criticisms leveled at their profession and the nursing home industry in general. 

Improving wages, benefits, and working conditions can start to alleviate nursing shortages; and government partnerships with colleges and trade schools, to subsidize tuition, are beneficial. Likewise, offering education for current healthcare workers, providing for professional advancement, can encourage new entrants. 

This is where a holistic view of risk management begins. Well-trained workers improve patient and employee safety, increase the quality of care and lower liability risk. Enterprise Risk Management considers innovative solutions to labor shortages. However, while there are many possible solutions to the staffing crisis, it will take time, money, and energy to implement; so change won’t happen overnight.

  1. Cybercrime – No matter the size of your operation, your risk from cybercrime and a ransom attack is real. In fact, it’s been estimated that ransomware attacks quadrupled from 2017 to 2020 and will subsequently quintuple in 2021. Premiums on cyber policy renewals are rising 20% or more and will be available only if firewalls, multi-factor authentication, training, and third-party vendor security audits are being done.
  2. Risk Management – No longer is it beneficial to separate risk management into isolated processes. Clinical risk, human resource risk, and safety risk have typically been isolated from each other, making adaptation and change difficult and slow. The pandemic revealed that each category contributes to the overall enterprise risk and should be integrated into a multidisciplinary, enterprise risk management solution. This will be welcomed by regulators, families, residents, insurers, and staff.

Thriving Requires Technological Innovation

“The past year has been notable in that elements of digital transformation have appeared across the globe and in some places have moved beyond telehealth to encompass data driven decision making.” Data abounds and when collected and analyzed it can provide insights needed for risk management, for identifying clinically complex residents needing focused attention, and for cohorting by risk, staffing accordingly.

Patient Pattern has the technology solutions needed to meet these challenges. Care Coach, importing routine data, from the MDS, OASIS, or manual entry, is our starting point. It is analyzed using a proprietary algorithm, and health status insights are presented. In addition, a Frailty Risk Score is calculated. This represents the best predictor of clinical complexity and risk for this population. Cohorting, based on the degree of risk, accommodates staffing shortages and identifies those in need of urgent attention. This, in turn, improves patient outcomes, manages utilization and resources, and increases patient/family satisfaction.

Our Frailty Certification Course, further expands the Enterprise Risk Management, offering role-specific education for those caring for older adults across the continuum of care. Online, virtual learning modules are available for all professionals and other staff. Completion of the courses improves the quality of care given and encourages proactive risk management to reduce poor outcomes.

Risk management is essential to meet the challenges ahead. Technology will make this possible. Healthcare in 2022 can be brighter than in recent days and Patient Pattern can help to make it happen.