Surviving in the COVID-19 World: Rebuild and Rethink Census Opportunities

With the recent resurgence of COVID-19 across many regions in the United States, many skilled nursing providers are faced with growing financial pressures as a result of a continued decline in overall SNF occupancy.

According to a recent article in Skilled Nursing News by Maggie Flynn on January 25th, 2021, 48 states are reporting occupancy rates less than 80%, with some states, Oklahoma and Texas, dropping as low as 56% as a result of COVID-19.

As a result of this decline, many of our clients are asking how long will it take for SNFs to recover when it comes to census? In a recent study of acute/post-acute organizations conducted by Advisory Board, they found that 35% of providers polled felt that volumes will eventually recover within the next 1-2 years while others remained unsure.

What are some barriers to consider when it comes to rebuilding census?

Even with the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccines, skilled nursing facilities are still faced with countless obstacles that may impact growth and rebuild opportunities. Some of these barriers are specific to COVID-19, which include:
  1. Transition to more home-based care models.
  2. Consumer and referral source concerns regarding quality and safety in nursing homes, especially with the COVID-19 outbreaks.
  3. Changes in patient demographics as a result of the COVID-19 fatalities.
While other barriers are ongoing for SNFs including:
  1. Payers and value-based programs that are incentivizing a reduction in post-acute utilization.
  2. Workforce shortages limiting service and clinical expertise expansion.

How can providers succeed moving forward?

The basic formula for success has not changed when it comes to volume growth and sustainability, but now more than ever, it is important that providers don’t just stand by and wait for occupancy to return on its own.

Basic Strategies for Success include:
  1. Identifying and Understanding Market Priorities regarding post-acute care.
  2. Developing a “Specialized Service Offerings” based on identified gaps in the marketplace as well as referral sources needs and priorities.
  3. Successfully “Communicating the Right Pitch” to referral sources on the ability to meet their priorities and needs.

Broussard Healthcare Consulting offers a market & program analysis, customized strategic workplan, and execution and support on referral source strategy as part of our newly added Census Development & Market Analysis to facilitate success amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact us with feedback and/or assistance with rebuilding and expanding your market presence in the new year.