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Medline to Improve Standards in Skilled Nursing Facilities

March 8, 2013

With pressure being put on skilled nursing facilities to improve care standards at an all time high, Medline—the nation’s largest healthcare products distributor—has joined forces with the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) to reduce hospital readmissions, bring quality standards up to standard, lessen staff turnover and also lessen the use of off-label antipsychotics in dementia patients.

Launched on Valentine’s Day 2013, this labor of love is named Advancing Quality Together. The four improvement goals are targeted, measurable and, according to Medline, they “promise to have a profound positive effect on the lives of residents, their families and the people who provide their care.”

Here’s a breakdown in how Medline Products plans to achieve these goals:

  • Reduce Hospital Readmissions: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) started implementing the serious reimbursement penalties for avoidable rehospitalizations in October 2012. The avoidable readmissions have been costing our healthcare system around $17 billion annually. Hence it makes sense that this is more than a one part solution in an effort to help nursing homes in reducing readmissions.
    • INTERACT® was developed at Florida Atlantic University and is an acronym for Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers. “A quality improvement program for the identification, evaluation, communication and documentation of changes in the clinical condition of nursing home residents.” Medline University (Medline Products’ free educational resource) is the home for INTERACT program training.
    • abaqis® Readmissions Tracker, part of the abquis Quality Management System, allows facilities to analyze trends and track readmission rates. It also helps to identify areas within the facility that can be improved upon via targeted reports and CMS definition based group and/or facility comparisons.
  • Improving Quality Standards (keeping customers happy) will also involve the abquis Quality Management System, which now features a customer satisfaction module. It gives resident level data so that facility management can see exactly what areas need improvement and how they are doing compared to other facilities of similar grain.
  • Retaining Nursing Home Staff is a big deal. Multiple studies show that a happier staff means happier residents and their families. Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are going to be in high demand as our nation continues to rapidly age. To keep turnover at bay, this incredibly important group of people—individually—need to be given greater, more tangible recognition and affordable education advancement opportunities. Medline’s partnered up with the National Association for Health Care Assistants to increase on the job satisfaction. Facilities that have already joined NAHCA report a 25% average increase in staff retention, saving each facility around $42,000 per year and improving the quality of patient care.
  • Safely Reducing Off Label Antipsychotic Use is another biggie, especially as media awareness continues to increase on issues of aging, ageism and compassionate elder care. Part of this awareness is centered around Alzheimer’s and other dementias, primarily in finding ways to treat persons living with dementia in an “I-Thou” or person-centric manner. Antipsychotics have potentially negative side effects and alternative treatments like creative therapies, simple patience and one-on-one interactions have shown to be just as effective as the drugs—with no side effects in sight except for happier, more elevated hearts. To help nursing facility staff learn about creative problem solving, Medline University is offering CE-accredited courses on caring for persons with dementia sans meds.