The Great Resignation, ongoing supply chain issues, and unpredictable regulation make for an interesting 2022, but we have the opportunity to begin turning the ship around in long-term care.
The last two years have shown us how fragile the skilled nursing industry can be, but 2022 has a myriad of potential upsides we can look forward to. I’m optimistic this is the year we move beyond unforeseeable disruptions into a clearer future.
Where We Stand in 2022
Reframing The Great Resignation
Staffing issues from 2021 are anything but abated in 2022. The Great Resignation has sent riptides across the employment market, leaving in its wake millions of job openings and impacting every industry. We are no stranger to this in healthcare. With the tremendous workloads we saw in 2020 pushing workers into overdrive, I see a year ahead where the tides smooth over.
This year, I believe we have a great opportunity to hit the reset button and show the nation the lessons we learned over the past two years. We’ve made our workplaces safer, more efficient, and are ready to show how attractive working in skilled nursing truly is and the passion we collectively have for doing this work. This is an opportunity for us to prove to our employees they are valued and bring prospects into a rejuvenated workplace where meaningful work takes place.
A Frozen Supply Chain & Rising Costs
If it isn’t plastics, it’s been computer chips. Reduced production and a choked supply chain have sent prices up for a laundry list of items. Couple that with inflation, and we are seeing many mismatches between prices and value. This knock-on effect of the last two years’ consumption demands and staffing limits is likely here to stay for another year or two while production capacities return to normal and manufacturers work through a backlog. With everything else settling, I see 2022 as a year where our books begin to even out and we can move forward with more predictable projections.
Preparing for Tomorrow’s Changes
In a ‘will they or won’t they’ time of regulations, 2021 thankfully demonstrated to us that the government supports long-term care. Stimulus money, employee credits, and waivers were welcome reliefs. In 2022, however, we cannot expect this support to continue indefinitely. Inevitably, this relief will make way to a status quo that more closely mirrors regulatory bodies before COVID. We need new models that can support in-home care and higher reimbursements so SNFs can attract needed talent. The last two years have shown us we can be nimble when we need to be, so don’t forget what you’re capable of as we enter 2022. The resiliency we’ve proven since 2020, and, quite frankly, before COVID, is a hard-earned skill that won’t leave us after a few months of calmer waters.
What Waits Ahead
Save money, hire better
The ever-changing long-term care landscape now places added pressure on SNFs to take in more higher acuity patients, with facilities diversifying in order to compete with in-home care. Saving money during this time of waning reimbursements is essential, but also creates room for resources to be put into hiring committed talent. I expect specialists to continue to be essential additions to most nursing facilities and management need to be working to make that happen today. I’ve heard of many facilities pivoting to providing dialysis services, and I think this is a sign of a future where we collectively need to be ready to adapt. That includes a flexible, diverse workforce.
Automation & Technology
Success favors the efficient. In today’s world, it is imperative management seize every opportunity to increase the efficiency of every possible process. There are technology solutions that can automate or simplify a whole range of processes, eliminating hours of costly labor that offer few tangible results beyond basic compliance. Automating the mundane and arduous is the correct way of thinking about improving our workflows, freeing up human imagination, and problem solving for more important things like patient care.
Expert Oversight & Outsourcing
In an increasingly complex industry, many are realizing the opportunity to outsource complex functions brings with it greater operational freedom and cost savings. Far more time-effective than hiring specialized personnel to task with in-house workflows, outsourcing to third-party experts with standing in their field allows owners and managers to focus on optimizing their care strategies and pivoting when big changes crop up. I see outsourcing as a growing accessory to most facilities’ processes as time goes on.
Our mission at SRX is to help LTC operators control their pharmacy spend through automation and analytics. We work daily to maximize rebate dollars that improve the net income of facilities. Our other services focus on comprehensive pharmacy management solutions including waste reporting, formulary management, and contract advisory services. SRX’s software analyzes everything on your pharmacy bills for compliance and consistency, highlighting savings opportunities and recommending cost-saving alternatives. We’ve also worked hard to automate recommendations around waste reduction, OTC utilization, or optimizing med-surg spend versus pharmacy spend. All these services provide greater potential for operators to increase their ability to move and maneuver by allocating returns to needed processes or investing in technological upgrades.
I am hopeful we will pave new roads that lead to more opportunities and greater flexibility this year. We have worked through two years of unprecedented, unpredictable variables and seem to be nearing the opposite side of Sisyphus’ hill. Remain optimistic and we will be celebrating a year of excellence by December, eclipsing the hardships we have pushed through.
– Scott Taylor, CEO
SRX is a technology and advisory company that helps LTC operators realize the lowest net cost on drug costs. We help our customers improve drug utilization, manage pharmacy relationships, reduce costs and waste, and maximize rebates. We are committed to transparency and accountability and guarantee our quarterly rebates are paid on time, every time.
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