Less is More: The Benefits of Consolidating Agency Partners 

Agency partners play a key role in senior care community operations. Agency partners can help communities navigate short- and long-term staffing challenges with access to increased talent. But too many agency partners can lead to inefficient, costly operations. In many cases, less is more, and consolidating partners can enhance a senior care community’s efficiency, quality of care, and bottom line.

Potential Downsides to Multiple Agency Partners

Colt Miller

Colt Miller, senior vice president of skilled nursing at connectRN

Colt Miller, senior vice president of skilled nursing at connectRN, explains that given the shortages in clinical care available, senior care communities may become reactive, rather than proactive. In finding themselves in need of last-minute care that a current agency can’t fulfill, senior care communities turn to another agency, and then another.

“That goes on and on, and then the challenges of managing those agencies become a strain on the rest of your team,” says Miller. “Unless you can find a trusted partner that is going to work with your needs and your budget, and deliver the staff you need at a fair price, there will always be the need for multiple agencies.”

Managing Multiple Relationships

Having multiple partners means that senior care communities have to manage multiple relationships. In doing so, key elements like trust can be lost, and priorities can be misaligned. Agency management becomes increasingly difficult and time-consuming.

For example, timekeeping may involve multiple systems across multiple agencies. Such a complicated process could take the focus of the scheduling manager, human resources department, and administrator. “It can take the focus away from resident care toward something that’s not really necessary,” says Miller.

Managing Clinicians Within the Senior Care Community

The representation of clinicians can be another potential issue, including the management of the people coming in and out of a senior care community. Miller notes that with the “revolving door” of a traditional agency, a clinician who isn’t the right fit for a senior care community could potentially come back into that community via a different staffing agency. That situation can be such a problem that connectRN took steps to prevent it from occurring. “We have a feature where partners can curate a list of clinicians working with their community,” he says. “You can remove their eligibility on the front end with our platform.”

Loss of Process Visibility 

When a senior care community operates across state lines or on a national scale, using multiple agencies brings additional challenges. “It’s great to empower each independent facility or campus to choose who they work with,” explains Miller. “Some providers may be stronger in a given geographic area in terms of clinician density than another. But really at the top of the organization, you lose visibility of processes.” With multiple campuses using multiple agencies, it can be difficult for the senior care operation, as a whole, to monitor the credentialing processes that each agency uses to ensure the clinicians meet the business’ standards.

The Benefits of Consolidating Partners

Consolidating several partners into a few gives senior care communities greater control of their costs, their processes, and their compliance. Streamlined operational efficiencies also leads to monetary return.

Working with a single trusted agency partner allows a senior care community to be proactive in their staffing needs, rather than reacting to short-term staffing challenges. “[connectRN] can help you manage delivery effectively so you’re not scrambling, adding unnecessary bonuses, and calling on multiple agencies,” says Miller. “You want continuity of care for your residents, but also schedule stability.”

Most importantly, consolidating work within a single agency means a senior care community develops a trusted partnership with that agency. “As a leader, you can put your name on one brand that can consistently meet both the clinical and cultural expectations you hold for your community,” Miller explains.

How to Approach Partner Consolidation

Since every senior care community is unique, it’s important to find a partner that matches a community’s specific mission, vision, and values. “As an organization, what is the experience you’re looking to provide to your residents?” poses Miller.

“We’re very clinician-centric, so by empowering clinicians to make what they want with their careers, they’re coming to work energized. They’re seen, heard, and valued. That translates into the quality of care that the residents then recognize,” Miller says.

Considering specific qualities can help senior care communities identify their ideal agency partner. “The vetting process of clinician clinical ability is one of the most important things,” Miller says. Consider how an agency evaluates clinicians to ensure their skills meet your expectations.

It’s also essential to find a partner who can provide real-time, data-driven feedback on the market. Having that information creates predictability in the pricing model. “You don’t want someone who’s going to throw a rate at the wall and see if they’ll be able to deliver,” says Miller. Instead, consider what data they leverage and look for an agency that provides a consultative approach to market demand and market supply.

Trusted timekeeping is also important. “Our platform is very secure in the measures we have to ensure all hours billed to your community are for the hours of care that are provided to the residents,” Miller notes. connectRN utilizes QR codes, pin codes, and geolocation to provide you with peace of mind that your billed hours will be accurate.

Maintaining Fewer Agency Partnerships

When it comes to maintaining fewer agency partnerships, Miller notes that feedback is essential. “Not every community will be a great fit for every clinician, and not every clinician will be a great fit for every community,” he says. Senior care communities should work to ensure they have an agency partner who they can provide feedback to. The partner needs to then take action on any issues surrounding service or clinicians who may not be a great fit. “Allow your partner to rise to the expectations and deliver, and if they don’t after consistent and open feedback, they’re probably not the best partner for you,” says Miller.

By consolidating agency partnerships and strategically choosing a quality partner like connectRN, senior care communities can enhance their operations while cutting costs. With a trusted partner, communities have the peace of mind knowing they are delivering consistent, quality resident care that can improve resident satisfaction and overall well-being.

Topics: Clinical , Executive Leadership , Facility management , Featured Articles , Leadership , Operations , Staffing