What LTC Pharmacists Need to Know: Survey Suggests COVID-19 Related LTC Closures in 2021


December 18th, 2020

LTC pharmacists could face challenges in 2021, as new survey suggests that two-thirds of facilities won’t survive in the next year.

ltc pharmacists

LTC pharmacists fill a very specialized role in the healthcare ecosystem. An LTC pharmacy focuses on supplying the medications need for residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities. This sector of the healthcare system has been experiencing the brunt of COVID-19, not just in patients lost but also in operating revenue.

new study published by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living examined the financial and operational challenges facing these organizations. The results are staggering, suggesting two-thirds would be out of business in a year or less in the current environment. 

Inside the Study

The groups conducted the study by surveying 953 nursing home providers across the U.S. Here’s what they found in response to questions about sustainability, budget, costs, and workforce challenges.

  • 90% said they are currently operating at a loss or less than a 3% profit margin. (65% are operating at a loss.)
  • 66% said they could not make it another year at the current operating pace.
  • 43% said the top cost of COVID-19 is additional staff pay.
  • 68% hired additional staff, 86% paid overtime, and 94% asked staff to work double shifts.

What Do These Stats Mean for the Sector’s Future?

There was already a workforce shortage in the LTC realm. As a whole, Healthcare lost around 1.5 million jobs in March and April, with half a million still lost six months later. While other healthcare jobs rebounded, LTC has not. The job loss in LTC represents 6.2% of these numbers. 

Job loss plus a workforce shortage butts against a growing demand for LTC services. According to HHS, 69% of Americans will require LTC services at some point in their lives for an average of three years. An aging population, many of which have chronic conditions that require dailly medications, COVID’s destructive wake, and the pre-existing constraints make this a perfect storm. 

LTC stakeholders and advocates are vying for relief funding from the government, but those negotiations remain stalled. This study’s most serious indication is that LTC facilities could close, leaving millions of patients without care. 

What Does This Mean for LTC Pharmacists?

LTC pharmacists would, of course, take a major hit should facilities close. It’s not in the best interest of any parties for this to happen. However, things look dire, so it’s a good time to reach out and connect with your LTCs to understand how they are weathering difficulties. 

You can chat with them about ways to support medication distribution and adherence with patients, which could help ease some pressure on staff. 

LTC pharmacists should also consider the consequences of closure on patient records and the need to migrate or exchange data. Such activity would be necessary if another LTC takes over the patients of one closing. 

Ultimately, you should keep an eye on the industry to see if these predictions become a reality. Get more news like this from InfoWerks when you subscribe to our blog.

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