Author: Maxwell Healthcare Associates
Posted: October 3, 2024
The industry becomes more volatile as post-acute care transitions toward a focus in value. At Maxwell Healthcare Associates, we believe that as long as caregiver passion exists within the agency, any organization can thrive with the proper knowledge. The team at MHA comprises many longstanding industry veterans from all aspects of the care process. Through each interview we aim to empower your agency in making the shift from surviving to thriving amid the strenuous post-acute care environment.
In this interview, we sat down with Kimberly Mulquin-Shumway, Director of Quality and Regulatory Compliance at MHA. Kim discusses the current state of post-acute care, upcoming trends, and the importance quality plays in the future of post-acute care.
What is the key component of a successful post-acute quality program?
The key component for a successful quality program is collaboration. In my experience, leaders think they know what the people that really do the job require. They like to dictate and change processes without getting feedback. When you hear the feedback from the people that really do the job, and have that collaboration, there's a sense of ownership, there's a sense of self-worth, there's a sense of accountability, and you're more likely to achieve success. Overall, collaboration and feedback from your stakeholders is key.
What are the main challenges that you encounter in maintaining and improving quality?
The main challenge is keeping up with all the regulations. You know we're all busy, we're focusing on taking care of our patients, we're focusing on the operations of our agency, we're making sure that the staff have everything that they need. We’re not only supplying the time, but also education and training to provide the best care.
In the meantime, how do you keep track of everything that's going on? There's a lot of listeners out there from our national associations. There's a lot of webinars that are going on; those resources are the best way. You're hearing information from our national associations because they're the ones they have their finger on the pulse. They're in Washington, they're rooting for us, they're backing us, they're lobbying for changes. The constant changes are probably the biggest challenge. Once you have those changes that are happening, you must ask is now the time to revise processes tools that you use? Educating and training the staff on the changes in what's going on in the industry, but also what's changing within my agency as far as those processes?
What steps do you take to prioritize patient-centric care while adhering to strict quality and operation standards?
The Medicare regulations say that the patient, family, and caregiver need to be involved in developing that plan of care. We know there's research out there saying you must have buy-in from the family, patient, and caregiver, they're going to be more successful at following their treatment plan, they're most likely going to improve quicker, thereby having positive patient outcomes. These outcomes are going to be reflected in your quality outcomes, not only ones you're measuring but also ones that are publicly reported. The best way to do that is to sit and listen to the patients. We tend to be rushed because, again, in our industry we're doing more with less. We want to get in and go do what we got to do and get out but taking that time to listen to the patient families and the caregivers that are just hearing it, and then opening their communication builds trust. The patients will believe the caregivers and follow up with that tailored plan.
Are there any tech trends you see emerging that you believe will assist with understaffing and quality focused patient care?
There's so much technology out there, it's hard to wrap your head around who does what, what's user-friendly, what will interact with the systems you already have in place. Is the technology user-friendly from the patient side? In the post-acute care industry, the patients tend to be geriatric. I think the average age is in the late 70s early 80s for home health and hospice, so it gets complicated. There are a lot of apps out there that require a smartphone. If you don’t have one, what do you do? That's the struggle. We can build all the technology we want, but how user friendly is it? You know the patients have family members that are younger so they could use it, so that that would be the go around. If there's that education and training on the patient and caregiver side, we need to show them how to use it and when to use it.
What role do you believe quality management will play in the future of post-acute care?
Quality is the wave of the future. I've been a big proponent; I've been in the quality realm for 27 plus years. My thought process is always, “quality is the foundation of an agency”. Most people think of quality as patient outcomes. What's out there in the Medicare side? The surveyors come in and look making sure you’re compliant with the regulations.
Yes, that's important, if you have a good foundation program and you monitor the things that really have meeting for you to be successful, as far as your operations, expenses, costs, overhead, revenue, claims and denials. If you're getting ADR's, why is that happening, as well as the patient outcomes. If you have poor patient outcomes, you're going to have decreased referrals, you're going to have Medicare at your front door, you may even have the OIG at your front door. So, making sure that your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed is all part of that quality program to be successful.
Thrive with MHA
With the uncountable number of nuances in the post-acute space, it makes sense for your agency to feel overwhelmed at times. Our experts at MHA hold a wealth of knowledge and experience within the industry. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re ready to take the next step in achieving your agency’s goals. Contact us today at [email protected] or visit www.maxwellhca.com.