Advice for Non-Acute Service Providers: Focus on Staff Competency and Education

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

We recently spoke to Vickie Harris, the President and founder of QEC Partners, and the immediately past board chair of the Middle Tennessee Council on Aging. Harris recently sat down with HealthStream to talk about how post-acute and non-acute providers will need to adapt to survive in the world of value-based care.

Competency and Education are Opportunities in the Post and Non-Acute World

Harris cites the relatively low barriers to entry particularly into the non-acute service provider market as cause for concern, pointing at education and competency. In the non-acute market, there is little in the way of structure, measurement, or regulations. “I think there are opportunities to help elevate expectations, to help elevate what those organizations do, and to improve how they operate. If they want to be stakeholders and real partners to healthcare providers, they will need to make these changes,” says Harris.

While competency is mission critical to the success of post-acute and non-acute providers, Harris backs it up even further and makes these recommendations.

  • Start by identifying the right people for open positions.
  • Understand employees’ strengths and identify opportunities to sharpen skills.
  • Hire with an eye toward selecting employees not only for the open position, but for the future needs of the organization.
  • Stop focusing training exclusively on compliance. Focus instead on true competency.
  • Expect that key drivers of engagement, retention and satisfaction are likely very similar in the acute, post-acute and non-acute settings, and measure and plan accordingly.
  • Lastly, be careful when evaluating retention. Harris recommends focusing more on what you are investing in employees in order to become the employer of choice.

Harris predicts that value-based purchasing will drive some significant changes in the post-acute and non-acute markets. First, she points to the growing importance of employees. “We’re in the service business, so you cannot disconnect the value of people from where we’re headed in value-based payment and delivery models,” says Harris. The bar is high for the value-based purchasing metrics and post and non-acute providers are unlikely to reach them without highly trained and competent staff. Harris explains that success hinges on the building blocks of quality, efficiency, and collaboration. “In a service business, you can’t hit those required metrics unless you’ve got a highly competent staff. I, honestly, believe that it will fuel post-acute and non-acute to take a step, and it’s already doing so, in the right direction around looking at staff, human resources, and retention.”

Become More Patient Centric

Harris also believes that value-based reimbursement will force providers to re-engineer their business models to a more patient-centric one. This will be particularly true for the non-acute market which is currently largely unregulated. Consumers will be approaching these services with very specific expectations and payers will be approaching these services with a more rigorous set of standards.

Given that the post and non-acute markets lag behind the rest of the continuum in terms of value-based purchasing preparedness, what should they be doing now to prepare to meet these looming requirements? Harris recommends starting with an honest assessment of the organization’s current situation by answering the following questions:

  • What is the organization’s current position in the community and in the larger geographic market, particularly in comparison to competitors?
  • What are the pain points of the acute-care providers that are upstream from the organization? How are the organizational strengths aligned to help relieve those pain points?
  • What does the current data tell us about emerging trends on the acute-care side that could inform decisions about services, and centers of excellence in the post and non-acute markets?
  • Does the organization’s business plan really support collaboration with acute care partners?

Learn more about HealthStream’s for Non-Acute Care Workforce Development