4 ways hospitals should vet post-acute care partners

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To assure quality care outcomes and sustainable finances, hospitals must form closer relationships with post-acute care providers, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.

Hospitals must move beyond the image of post-acute care providers as simply referral partners, write Michael N. Abrams and Gordon Phillips of Numerof & Associates. Within the modern continuum of care, post-acute care is part of the care delivery process. With this in mind, hospitals should focus on a few key partners within post-acute care. These considerations are particularly important in light of recent research that finds high readmission rates among patients discharged to such facilities. Other providers have taken it further, such as Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s joint venture with Select Medical. Similarly, Elizabeth, New Jersey’s Trinitas Regional Medical Center leased space to CareOne for a 25-bed long-term acute care provider within the facility.

In seeking such a partner, it’s vital to incorporate several factors into the vetting process, according to Abrams and Phillips, including:

The partner’s track record on quality measures such as readmissions, lengths of stay, patient and family satisfaction and infection rates. “This information will vary depending on the institution, but understanding relative performance of these measures can help guide provider decisions,” Abrams and Phillips write.

Ease of transfer between hospital and post-acute care: Hospitals and post-acute care facilities must share an understanding on the post-acute provider’s capabilities to handle the hospital’s specific care patterns, such as referral volume and the makeup of the patient population.

Facilities’ level of preparation:  The discharge-to-post-acute-care process must be as smooth as possible, and as such hospitals must agree on milestones, care pathways and care transitions.

Efficiency of care and service delivery: To deliver cost-effective care, providers must identify high- and low-cost providers based on Medicare claims data as well as taking a look at acute-care providers’ preparedness to handle cost and quality variations.

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