According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have seen over 216,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases through the end of August. To keep the spread under control, CMS has increased pressure on infection control processes and required reporting—including financially penalizing SNFs that violate guidelines.
Financial Penalties SNFs are Facing
In late May, CMS released federal guidelines requiring facilities to report positive COVID-19 results and comply with additional guidelines. For those that don’t, increased civil monetary penalties (CMPs) were announced. Depending on the circumstances, these CMPs range from $5,000 to $20,000 per instance.
Since the increased penalties were announced, CMS has issued $15 million in CMPs to around 3,400 nursing facilities. In a recent press release, Chris Klomp, CEO of Collective Medical explained the difficulty SNFs are facing.
“With extremely vulnerable patients and little visibility into patient history, SNFs have a difficult challenge ahead of them in effectively managing patients while sending timely reports to CMS.”
COVID-19 Testing Requirements & Kits
Under new regulations, CMS is now requiring monthly, weekly, or twice-per-week testing of workers in nursing homes. The required frequency is dependent on whether facilities in counties are designated as red, yellow, or green in regards to community spread.
Facilities in over 800 “red” counties are required to test workers twice per week. Those in more than 1,000 yellow counties require weekly testing. Finally, around 1,300 green counties will only require testing once per month. These tests are now required for all nursing facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid with threats of fines or closure for not complying.
To address this testing burden, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will distribute 750,000 point-of-care COVID-19, particularly for facilities in red or yellow counties.
The Importance of Interoperability & Care Collaboration
In a recent press release, Manolo Garcia, SVP of Information Technology at Consulate Health Care explained the need for the seamless flow of data:
“Healthcare collaboration among a patient’s entire care team becomes even more critical when dealing with infectious disease. With data, we are able to better protect all patients, our care center staff and our vendors that provide essential support to our care center operations.”
As a key part of the care continuum, SNFs can facilitate the smooth flow of information between providers in their communities. Interoperability helps fill in the gaps and help prevent avoidable readmissions or transfers, thus slowing the spread of COVID-19.
For example, staff at Oregon-based Marquis Companies use Collective’s real-time, ADT-based notifications to enable quick and effective follow-up care. By acting in the moment, Marquis was able to reduce hospital readmissions by 60 percent in less than six months.
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