Friday, December 27, 2019

Nursing Home Over-Regulation and Solution

Complaining is a job, problem solving is a vocation. I have always appreciated people who don’t just complain, but come with a plan to fix the problem. That gets harder the bigger the issue, the less control we have. Our current politics and societal changes come to mind.

Recently, I found myself once again railing at the overwhelming issues health care professionals face due in large part to over-regulation. Our national nursing home regulatory process costs millions and doesn’t work. We are regulating nursing homes as we have since the 1970s and just continue to pile on more regulations and more penalties and more paper, but we are not getting the return in quality and cost efficiency our parents, our nation’s senior’s, deserve.

I’d like to offer a solution, not just a complaint. In this age of technology, our federal government is spending millions of dollars a year to drive 4-5 or more inspectors to every nursing home in the United States for 3-5 days every year, or more often. Think of the salaries, the mileage, the hotels and meals. Then add the administrative costs, the teams that inspect the inspectors, and the people who go out and inspect when a complaint is lodged. The government is spending millions of all of our tax dollars, health care professionals aren’t providing care because they are responding to inspectors, and quality is not much affected.

This failed system is not the inspectors’ fault. By and large I have found inspectors to be dedicated public servants, they are just working in a broken system.

There’s a better, simpler, cheaper way than the current broken system. Nursing homes can be monitored through technology, inspections of high performing nursing homes could be curtailed so more time could be spent with true under-performers who need it, all nursing homes can be routinely monitored through current technology, the complaint process could be improved, inspectors can become collaborative consultants, not just inspectors. Quality could go up, and cost go down. How many times do taxpayers get an opportunity like that? Instead, our country continues to live by the quote from Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”