As a SNF operator or manager, you know the struggles that SNFs have faced over the past few years. Widespread issues have shut down dozens of SNFs and threaten to ruin more. Some of the most damaging problems include low reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid, the loss of skilled staff, and the stigma associated with SNFs in general. Not to mention the fact that SNFs were a breeding ground for COVID-19 infections and deaths. It's been tough for SNFs to stay afloat amidst so much adversity. But could there be hope for the future? That's what we'll address in this article.
The Numbers Are Encouraging
According to Grand View Research's Market Analysis Report for 2022-2030, things are looking up for SNFs. Per industry experts’ findings, the skilled nursing industry's market value was $175.9 billion in 2021. Over the next eight years, the SNF industry is projected to grow by a 3.32% compound annual growth rate.
This growth is expected to be driven by an increase in aging individuals, which skyrockets demand for long-term care services. Currently, there are 54 million adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. - by 2050, that number is expected to jump to more than 85 million by the year 2050.
Not only will an aging population drive SNF growth over the next few years, but so will an increase in chronic diseases. A staggering 50% of the population suffers from one or more chronic diseases, and that number is expected to increase as well. As a result, more and more people will need SNFs, which are equipped to provide around-the-clock medical care and monitoring for chronic illnesses.
SNFs Have Struggled for Years
Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) have been struggling for years. The number of SNFs has declined, and the average bed occupancy rate across the skilled nursing industry has also been falling. One of the main problems is that most people who need skilled nursing care are on Medicare or Medicaid. And these health insurance providers pay meager rates for costly care.
There were also widely publicized cases of abuse and neglect at several SNFs, which eroded the public's trust in these institutions. And the pandemic didn't help either - it intensified the need for SNF reform and increased public scrutiny of the skilled nursing industry.
SNFs Will Continue to Face Tough Challenges Despite Increasing Demand
The skilled nursing facility industry will continue to face tough challenges in the coming years, despite the increasing demand for their services. One of the biggest challenges will be attracting and retaining qualified staff. The aging population is not only putting a strain on SNFs but the healthcare workforce as a whole. That means there are less qualified staff to go around.
As the population ages, the number of healthcare workers needed will increase. But at the same time, many healthcare workers are nearing retirement age. So, there will be even more people needing care and fewer people to provide it. This healthcare worker shortage is expected to worsen in the coming years.
In addition to attracting and retaining qualified staff, SNFs must also improve their image. The public still has a negative perception of SNFs, and this will only change when SNFs provide consistent, high-quality care across the board.
How Can SNF Operators Prepare for the Future?
Quality of care will be critical in the future (as it has been in the past) for SNF operators. They need to focus on providing targeted, attentive, individualized care for their patients. This means having well-trained and qualified staff. They also need to ensure that their facilities are clean, safe, and comfortable.
SNF operators should anticipate increased governmental regulation of the skilled nursing industry. The government will likely continue to expand its oversight of the SNF industry in the coming years. So, operators need to make sure that their facilities are in compliance with all regulations and that their facilities meet or exceed all standards.
Finally, SNF operators must prepare for the financial challenges that lie ahead. The industry is facing declining reimbursement rates when reimbursement was already scanty. Operators can prepare by seeking out ways to reduce their costs and increase their revenue. This may include things like expanding their services, developing new relationships with payers, or increasing their marketing efforts.
The future of the skilled nursing industry is uncertain. But what is certain is that the demand for their services will increase steadily. We hope that this article has been helpful to you and we encourage you to stay abreast of all SNF-specific regulations and changes on the horizon.