The Right Technology Can Provide REAL Solutions to Workforce Challenges

So why is no one talking about applied technology as a part of the REAL solution? Here’s a reprise of a past Blog entry and a new story to share.

Workforce issues continue to appear at the top of MN senior living providers’ list of operational challenges as reported by both trade associations serving this business line – Care Providers of MN and LeadingAgeMN. Workforce challenges are on the agenda of trade association board meetings and legislative strategies across the country. It is increasingly difficult to find and hire people to perform the work necessary for the care of older adults in senior living communities. Providers are needing to think creatively and more strategically than ever before when it comes to establishing and maintaining an effective workforce.

Within the current workforce challenges faced by MN senior living providers, we are hearing questions about recruitment and retention practices, about the efficacy of sign-on bonuses, and whatever else it takes to hire and keep employees. However, what we are not hearing are questions about how applied technology may play a role as part of an overall solution to current workforce challenges. Hiring and retaining an effective workforce is a systemic and ongoing process. Applied technology is not a single overall solution, however, it will contribute to the bigger picture in very effective and meaningful ways.

Some technology vendors that serve senior living providers are publishing their acknowledgement of the current workforce challenges within senior living. Mistakenly, they continue to publish the current state of affairs without offering specific solutions within their products. This practice just re-states the obvious without providing real ideas and proven solutions.

Eldermark knows from years of serving senior living providers that the workflow efficiencies resulting from the adoption of certain applied technology assists in reducing effort and the time required to accomplish certain tasks like documentation, medication administration record review, new resident intake, communications, service planning, and more. How? Here are representative examples directly from the field:

• A metropolitan provider campus concluded after adopting Eldermark’s Electronic Medication Administration Record (EMAR) technology that efficiencies would result in the reduction of 1.3 full-time-equivalents in LPN staffing – that’s 1.3 licensed staff FTEs that they will no longer have to hire, retain, and manage ongoing.

• Clients continue to report that after adopting e-Assessments they are reducing the resident intake process from about 12 hours to 2 hours or less per resident.

• Provider clients adopting mobile technology for in-the-field EHR documentation report the savings of 20-30+ minutes of administrative time per direct care staff employee per shift.

• Clinicians working within EMAR report that after adopting EMAR they are freed from the month-end reconciliation review process now performed by the pharmacy – this saves most providers 8-24+ hours of Registered Nurse time each month.

• Providers establishing realistic standardized time values for provided services and the labor costs associated with providing direct care are pulling data reports from their database that inform the FTE staffing requirements to meet the actual service demand of current residents, and they can determine to the dollar what it costs them to provide each resident’s plan of care.

• Providers adopting mobile technology to ensure control of service creep consistently report dramatic increases in the capture of unscheduled services data – most reporting a 200-300% increase in the documentation of unplanned/unscheduled services (look at all that clinical data they didn’t have before!). These newly captured services are enhancing revenue by thousands of dollars. One recent example returned over $25,000 per business quarter in newly captured revenue. What would you do with an extra $100k per year to affect workforce solutions?

If you do the math, it is easy to understand how applied technology can contribute to real solutions for consideration within the current workforce challenges – all of this is accomplished without any compromise to resident care. The Return On Investment can be immediate and sustained in both operations and in the care of residents.

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