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Don't be afraid to demand accountability

February 1, 2011
by Jaime Todd, LNHA, MBA
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Solving problems logically forestalls others
Jaime Todd, LNHA, MBA
Jaime Todd, LNHA, MBA


One would assume that an industry, which is intrinsically involved with life-and-death issues, would demand top performances from its employees-along with a strict code of accountability and some manner of redress. However, in today's America, accountability is not high on the agenda of many businesses. Those in charge of business have been cowed over the years by threats of lawsuits, pressure from unions, fear of being perceived as not employee-friendly, laziness, greed, and employee lack of concern and work ethics. Daily, some businesses increasingly fail us, businesses with whom we entrust that which is most valuable and precious to us: our banking, our investments, our government, our children's educations, our family's healthcare and, at the very end of their lives, our vulnerable frail elderly.

Those who run long-term care facilities know the alarming number of obstacles that might be lobbed at them during the course of a month: industry surveys, complaint investigations, lawsuits, justifiable (or not) family complaints, staff attitudes and lack of judgment at times, and so on. The business health and sustainability of a facility depends on how it responds to whether staff can appropriately react to perceived and real failings and immediately institute the appropriate fixes-or suffer damaging consequences.

Because of the change in attitude and ethos in much of the American workforce, many employees and facility owners forget that they are there for those in their care, as well as for the company that has invited the aged into their community. Accountability should be the number one priority-from the CEO all the way down to the part-time, substitute, or temporary worker. Today, too many employees believe they are a gift to the job and the company; they put their own interests above the demands of the job and the long-term success of the organization for which they work.

The CoreStat Process

CoreStat is a process combining core competencies and statistics. This management tool is unique because it can be implemented by any company, costs are negligible, and it improves organizational effectiveness. It's that simple. A panel, sitting at one end of a table, is designated to ask questions, while the department head being evaluated sits at the opposite end. The Information Technology department sets up a computer to project statistics/performance measures directly above the department head. The panel then proceeds to conduct a review of the projected statistics.

ACHIEVING ACCOUNTABILITY

CoreStat is a simple process which allows any company or business to address problems within that workplace while helping all employees define the problem, trace its origin, and assign praise or blame where appropriate, and then move forward to take remedial action. Accountability at all levels of an organization is the only way to ensure success. In addition to accountability, CoreStat enhances staff effectiveness, and acts as a visual aid and teaching tool that can be extremely valuable in improving overall performance.

Any company can implement this procedure; it is a statistical evaluation of core competencies (performance measurements) that add value to the organization.

  1. Identify which value-added performance measurements will be addressed. Resist the impulse to measure everything; focus on what adds value to the residents, employees, and the company.

  2. Once a division, department, or business unit identifies what they must measure, statistics will subsequently be tracked. CoreStat meetings can be quarterly, or more frequently as needed, resuling in an ongoing improvement policy for a facility; don't just use it when there are difficulties. Increased use will familiarize workers with the process and lessen the negative impacts that might register with staff.

  3. CoreStat meetings can be held at headquarters or in the facilities.

HOW IT WORKS

Let's consider a divisional vice president who is responsible for 10 skilled nursing facilities. One of the performance measures identified is revenue. The statistics indicate that last quarter's payment sources for rent-roll, Medicare A, Medicare B, and HMO reimbursements were all significantly higher than the present quarter. The panel will want to know the following information:

  • Why the change?

  • What are current trends in the local market?

  • What is the effectiveness of the current marketing plan?

  • Can we determine reason for decline-move-ins, Medicare A, Medicare B, HMOs?

  • What corrective action is required and how will we implement it?

In another scenario, examine the facility history with a nursing home administrator. One of the performance measures identified is regulatory compliance. Consider that in the prior quarter there were three complaint visits and two deficiencies cited as a result of those visits. However, in this quarter there are nine complaint visits and six deficiencies cited. In this situation the panel will ask questions that delve into the overall safety and care of the residents:

  • What types of deficiencies?

  • What is the scope and severity?

  • What corrective actions were/should be taken?

  • What is the procedure for identifying other residents potentially affected?

  • What systemic changes need to be implemented to prevent recurrence?

  • Is there quality assurance monitoring?

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