Key takeaways from AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo 23

Nurse operating PC

AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo: Delivering Solutions 23, held in Denver from October 1 to 4, 2023, gathered industry professionals and delivered insightful discussions, networking opportunities and a glimpse into the future of the long-term and post-acute care sector. A primary function of the conference is equipping administrators, directors of nursing and others with necessary knowledge. With the impact of COVID receding and census occupancy levels recovering somewhat, discussions circled around policy and financial concerns.

Here are some essential takeaways from the conference:

Focus on the proposed federal staffing mandate

Though the proposed federal staffing mandate, which would require minimum levels of healthcare provider time to spend with each patient, wasn’t an intentional focus of the conference, it dominated conversations. The financial implications of the mandate remain a significant concern, especially in relation to inflation, the likely lack of full-time workers to meet the staffing requirements and the fact it is not funded federally. Many feel it to be unworkable, and there are calls to approach the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) with enough comments so that it will be addressed through legislation or litigation.

Managed Medicare's penetrating impact

The continued growth of managed Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs is notable. Providers are increasingly feeling the pinch as managed care companies in the Medicare Advantage program reduce the length of stay for patients at skilled nursing facilities and negotiate for lower rates, squeezing providers financially. The counteraction involves developing coalitions amongst providers and I-SNPs to gain more negotiating power against managed care companies.

Confronting change and challenges in the workforce

The message from the first day's keynote speaker Peter Sheahan resonated with the audience as it called for embracing change across all industry levels. Meanwhile, on the workforce front, a notable increase in scheduling, staffing agency and technology platform exhibitors echoed the escalating issues around workforce management. A range of companies are stepping into the space to offer temporary worker and workforce management solutions.

The digital revolution: robotics, AI and tech strategies

Robotics, AI and holistic technology strategies were a significant presence in the expo hall and educational segments. As industry leaders deal with multifaceted challenges, technologies are emerging as solutions to optimize efficiencies, bolster outcomes and ensure compliance. Unlike traditional staffing agencies, a technology platform like ShiftKey offers clear advantages by delivering operational tools, which facilitate a streamlined process to help facilities fill PRN shifts.

Embracing temporary workers

Discussions around temporary workers and independent professionals centered around their advantages and challenges within existing workforce models. While recognizing the necessity of maintaining consistent levels of patient care and interactions, there’s a growing acceptance of the use of independent professionals as part of a modern workforce. Dialogues highlighted the importance of strategically working with, rather than against, the evolving workforce landscape.

Industry sentiments: Relevance and positive trajectory

Although not yet reaching pre-COVID attendance, the conference still attracted industry stakeholders and ensured meaningful interactions among attendees and participants. Many exhibitors expressed satisfaction with traffic and interest, making it a relevant platform for networking, discussion and visibility.

Wrapping Up

The AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo solidified the need for strategic adaptability and highlighted the expanding role of managed Medicare and workforce management in shaping the healthcare landscape. Stay tuned with ShiftKey for further insights, trends and solutions for the modern workforce.