Senior care staffing shortage: why investing in tech can help alleviate extra pressure in place from vaccine mandates

senior care staffing shortage

The case for the mandatory vaccination of senior care staff has gone to the Supreme Court for debate. While compliance was originally meant to take effect on January 4th, 2021, a memo released by CMS on December 28th, says surveying will go into effect in 30 days. Key details include:

  • Facilities with a staff vaccination rate of 80% and greater with a specific plan to achieve a 100% rate within 60 days would not be subject to additional enforcement.
  • Facilities with a staff vaccination rate above 90% after the 60 days with a plan to achieve a 100% staff vaccination rate within an additional 30 days would not be subject to additional enforcement.
  • Facilities with staff vaccination rates under 100% are considered noncompliant. Non-compliance does not necessarily lead to termination, and facilities will generally be given opportunities to return to compliance.

Over 77,000 Medicare and Medicaid providers and 17 million staff are affected by the CMS ruling and with less than 80% of senior care staff meeting the fully vaccinated threshold, there are still over 4 million people who need to receive their remaining doses. For an already understaffed and overworked industry, the potential impacts the mandate could have on facilities, residents, their families and care communities at large is immense.

A recent survey resulted in 98% of senior care leadership choosing “having enough staff” as their number one concern for 2022.

With low job satisfaction numbers, expensive agency staff being hired to help as a stop-gap, and no end in sight to the pandemic; what are senior care administrators to do? What tools and processes can better help current staff focus on those in their care? 

Use EHR integrated software   

The most up-to-date and accurate information in a senior care facility is housed in one central location – the EHR. So why not leverage that data (and its easy accessibility) by using tools which make it even more powerful? Meet interoperability. This refers to a system that can easily be integrated with another system to share important information. But how do EHR integrated tools help save staff time? Staff shortages mean fewer people to do more work, and training and onboarding when implementing new tools and processes can take time senior care staff don’t have. 

Improve staff productivity by automating outreach

Think of all the data and information staff need to gather and share with others. Dates, times, events, instructions, specific health information relating to one resident, contact information: from emergencies to the everyday, they are constantly communicating. And then logging those communications. So why not ease the entire information dissemination process? 

Automated outreach:

  • Increases proactive communication so your community stays informed.
  • Ensures resident families arrive for scheduled meetings like car conferences prepared and informed.
  • Reduces errors and omissions. 
  • Creates automatic, auditable logs of all communications and their outcomes.
  • Can save precious time in an emergency by updating an entire community of an ongoing situation in minutes.

Reduce costs with a healthy ROI

Not only can EHR interoperability save time and resources, but it can also greatly impact the bottom line. How? By calculating how much time is actually spent on outreach. 

  • The average 100-bed facility makes 6 calls for routine outreach (on-site visitation, care conferences, off-site appointments etc.). 
  • Scheduling the event in the EHR, looking up contact information, making the call and talking to the resident family member, and logging the call takes roughly 20 minutes. That’s over 100 minutes per resident per month.
  • While urgent outreach (power outages, policy changes, gastro outbreak notifications etc.) is less predictable, it still takes on average 60 minutes of time away from care. Per resident. Per month.
  • That’s thousands of dollars a month of average wages spent on phone calls.
  • If this 100-bed facility were to automate both urgent and routine outreach with an interoperable tool, they would return over 200 hours and $7,000.00 back to care every month.
  • That’s an ROI of over 2000% 

While so much has been out of our control over the course of the pandemic, what is controllable is how we react to the ever-changing challenges being presented. Technology can ensure that the limited staff available are free to focus on important tasks at hand, decreasing overtime and the need to hire agency staff. Book a demo to see how Automated Care Messaging can help your team.

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