Polaris Group Releases ‘Polaris Edge’ to Help Nursing Homes Prepare for CMS Mandates

Leading post-acute healthcare consulting and staffing company Polaris Group recently announced the launch of Polaris Edge, a suite of year-long, customizable consulting programs focused on enhancing compliance and financial oversight in nursing homes.

The policy changes are coming fast, with CMS announcing in 2022 alone a new Prospective Payment Final Rule, a new draft of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) Assessment, and additional surveyor guidance on the Rules of Participation Phase III. The changing regulations impact compliance requirements, reimbursement rates, and a facility’s consumer review or Five-Star Quality Rating. These and future changes will increase the need for consistent support for long-term care communities to fix their existing operations and prepare for additional policy revisions.

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"Facilities can't provide high quality care without financial resources and well-trained teams. But the sad reality is that many communities have been operating in the red for over 18 months. They're struggling to keep up with policy changes. Operators are experiencing a financial, compliance, and staff morale crisis," explained Polaris Group's Director of Consulting Services Wendy Strain.

The new data-driven service begins with a 4-day mock survey or 2-day audit to establish baseline performance, which Polaris consultants will utilize to create and deliver custom trainings on a departmental basis. Polaris Edge also provides monthly reviews to provide guidance on challenging issues and to track improvement across its year-long timeframe.

The move comes at a crucial time for long-term care recovery providers faced with ongoing regulatory changes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as significant financial and staffing challenges. Employees have quit at an alarming rate, with nearly half a million workers at nursing homes and residential care facilities having left their jobs since 2020, and more expected to leave in the near future. The National Center for Assisted Living projected that nursing homes faced a 4.8% negative margin in 2022, largely due to costs exceeding reimbursement rates.

By making use of the year-long program to gear up for changing compliance requirements and tighten the focus on operational expenses, care facilities will be better positioned to weather the ongoing financial perfect storm and be ready to thrive in an increasingly uncertain business environment.